Category Archives: Books

Justin E. H. Smith, The Philosopher

Reflections on Justin E. H. Smith, The Philosopher: A history in six types (Princeton UP, 2016). This is a timely, marvelous book that raises fruitful questions and criticisms especially about the ways philosophy is conceived by its modern-day, academic practitioners. … Continue reading

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Idealism and contingency

(Reading Terry Pinkard’s marvelous German Philosophy 1760-1860: The Legacy of Idealism) It may be that the tenability of idealism comes down to the question of history. A resolute idealist discovers that the most fundamental framework of existence is expressed as … Continue reading

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On knowledge regimes

Yesterday I came across the phrase “early modern knowledge regime,” and it teased my curiosity. What could this term mean? [I already have a short list of books to start reading, but I’ll begin first with what’s in reach and … Continue reading

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What are libraries?

[Currently reading: The Meaning of the Library, Princeton University Press, 2015.] When I went to college, I had a part-time job reshelving books in the library. I really liked it: I was on my own, rolling a little wooden cart … Continue reading

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Does philosophy belong in the humanities?

In the old model of the liberal arts, the trivium was the ground floor of the “core curriculum” for students. It consisted in logic, rhetoric, and grammar, or the basic tools for scholarly reading, understanding, and writing. One then studied … Continue reading

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Witches and inoculations

Joseph Glanvill (1636-1680) may have been the first popularizer of modern science. Educated at Oxford, and one of the earliest fellows of the Royal Society, Glanvill published works that railed against rigid dogmatism and promoted open-minded scientific inquiry. He believed … Continue reading

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“A Stranger to One’s Own Country”

Descartes was not a bookish man. There’s a well-known anecdote that reveals what he thought of libraries: One of his friends went to visit Descartes at Egmond. This gentleman asked him about physics books: which ones did he most value, … Continue reading

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