In his newsletter this week, the boss reported that "our friends over at National Review asked several contributors to write brief reflections for their 60th anniversary issue (by the way, congratulations!) about what book influenced us the most." The boss encourages everyone to take a look at the interesting symposium, featuring contributors like Elliott Abrams, Wilfred McClay, Garry Kasparov. And he reproduced his own answer to the question of what book may have influenced him the most. Here it is, for readers who may have missed that issue of National Review:Read more
Maybe he is the Republican Obama after all. Like the outgoing president, Florida senator Marco Rubio is charismatic, self-assured, and intelligent, as his performance in Tuesday night’s debate displayed. Alas, also like the president, Senator Rubio harbors an anti-intellectual streak, one that is both wrong in its premises, as well as on the facts.Read more
During Tuesday night's Republican presidential debate, Marco Rubio articulated his disagreements with increasing the minimum wage, and explained his alternative ideas.Read more
I'm not sure what the great political philosopher Leo Strauss would have thought of the Internet (he was a skeptic about progress, but also a skeptic about reaction). I personally think he would have appreciated aspects of it. Perhaps he would have even written an essay on "Persecution and the Art of Tweeting." Or not.Read more
Whatever one makes of either one of them, the similarities between Sarah Palin and Carly Fiorina (who’s just announced she’s running for president) stop more or less at the chromosomal level. Fiorina is an accomplished (if controversial) businesswoman; Palin, a half-term governor and television star. Fiorina is a graduate of Stanford (with a degree in philosophy and medieval history) and MIT (with a master’s in management); Palin received a degree in, alas, journalism.Read more
John R. Searle, the Slusser professor of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, is a philosopher in the tradition of Wittgenstein. He wants to clarify things. That is, he thinks there are two big mistakes philosophers have made throughout history, and Descartes popularized both.Read more
An MSNBC reporter asked Rick Perry in an interview that aired this morning whether the Texas governor is "smart enough to be president of the United States." Perry responded that "running for the presidency is not an IQ test."
Watch here:Read more
Anniversaries come thick and fast. But 500-year marks are still rare, reminders of a simpler time, a different world. We look back to Columbus and forward to the Reformation without understanding the epochal revolution in between that made our time, our world.Read more
On board the ms Noordam sailing from Italy to Greece, with a break from both sightseeing and panels, it seemed advisable to me 1) to ignore the goings-on in Washington, and 2) to find time for an article I'd set aside to read, Harvey Mansfield's "Machiavelli's enterprise" in the October New Criterion. Mansfield uses the occasion of the 500th anniversary of The Prince to provide an explanation of the famous first paragraph of its fifteenth chapter. In doing so, Mansfield provides an extraordinarily compressed but accessible account of Machiavelli's significance as the founder of modern philosophy and of the modern world. It's my pick for best article of the year.Read more
Jean Bethke Elshtain may have been the busiest woman many of us had ever met. Shuttling back and forth between her regular teaching appointment at the University of Chicago and her settled home in Tennessee, she wrote and wrote—and wrote and wrote. Essays, talks, books, memos to fellow directors on the almost endless number of boards on which she served. Letters, emailed comments about her friends’ latest work, notes on current theological and political issues: a ceaseless flow of words.Read more
President Barack Obama, speaking today in Berlin, cited German philosopher Immanuel Kant:
"For thousands of years, the people of this land have journeyed from tribe to principality to nation state to reformation and enlightenment. Renowned as the land of poets and thinkers, among them Immanuel Kant, who taught us that freedom is the unoriginated birthright of man and it belongs to him by force of his humanity."Read more
Democratic senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut admitted this morning that "It took me a while to figure out" that belief in gun rights is based on a philosophy:Read more
Elsewhere in this issue you can read Harvey Mansfield’s elegant résumé of the Romney-Obama debate.Read more
Remembering Friedrich Hayek, whose birthday is today. He was a philosopher and economist and wrote many wise things, including this:
There is all the difference in the world between treating people equally and attempting to make them equal.
George Orwell, no fan of capitalism, writing in 1944, made this point in a review of Hayek's The Road to Serfdom:Read more
Worth watching or reading: Leon Kass's Irving Kristol Address, "The other war on poverty: Finding meaning in America," delivered earlier this week at the American Enterprise Institute's annual dinner:Read more
Superheroes: The Best of Philosophy and Pop Culture expounds Immanuel Kant’s defense of retribution as a duty intimately related to “respect, honor, and what it means to be a valuable person living a worthwhile life in a community of other moral persons. When,” on the other hand, “Rorschach administers punishment, say by drowning Big Figure in the toilet,” that seems barbaric. “Indeed, drowning a midget in a toilet isn’t aesthetically pleasing; it doesn’t look ‘right.’ ”Read more
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