The inhabitants of utopia, their creators insist, are happy. But their lives are depicted as so relentlessly public, so entirely ordered and uneventful that their posited felicity is not something that many readers would willingly share.
Hawthorne’s tale is a finely crafted, perspicuous representation of aporia, that befuddlement or confusion. This is the kind of world we live in, and these are the kinds of creatures we are.
The rebel does not understand his sense of justice as subjective and arbitrary but as universal and authoritative.
There are people who, like Walton, will attempt to transform the state into an unrealistic paradisiacal land.
According to proponents, these new standards are “research and evidence based,” seemingly taking for granted that empirical data alone could provide sufficient warrant for the Common Core’s one-size-fits-all educational goals.
The question of the moral and social effects of literary study is so knotty that even people who have made a career of teaching literature sometimes reverse their beliefs concerning the effects of the study of literature upon human conduct.
Formalists separate the aesthetic and the ethical. In this article I argue that moral considerations may play a decisive role in our appreciation of particular works of art.
While animals cannot reason, plan for the future, or think through a long-range plan of action, people can and should engage in these actions. Why should we choose to act like animals when we can choose not to and when we can create an environment in which acting like animals is unnecessary?
The idea that war might somehow be mediated by reasonable agreements, heroic values of resistance, and religious scruples, such as those governing the burial of the dead, has been reduced to a shambles by the internal dynamics of war and the logic of violence itself.
Ultimately, it is this reverence, this humility before God, and this faith in the goodness of life that are at the heart of Panichas’s long and productive career, and that also underlie the sort of conservatism that he has defended so admirably over the course of the past four decades.
Over a long and accomplished career, Peter J. Stanlis has often worked at the intersection of literature, philosophy, and political philosophy, and this emphasis is evident in Robert Frost: The Poet as Philosopher, a study that explores Frost’s relationship to developments in the sciences, the humanities, and politics from the age of Charles Darwin to the time of John F. Kennedy’s presidency.
There is another major element in Babbitt’s criticism which has a strong resemblance to the positivist method, even to the original statement of it by Comte. This is the concept of the interrelationship of all knowledge.
Peter Viereck was born in New York City in 1916. He died on May 13, 2006, at the age of 89 in South Hadley, Massachusetts, in the same house on the edge of the Mount Holyoke College campus where he and his family had lived since he started teaching at the College.
Utopia provides the earliest antidote to utopian ideology, which it subtly ridicules by the ironic deployment of stylistic variation.
At the conclusion of his writing career, Nietzsche ironically and unintentionally ends up affirming a perspective on life that resonates with what can be termed a “Christianity of Joy.”
Shakespeare has the Duke stage a brilliant Machiavellian parody of the extremes of the Christian apocalyptic expectation of rewards and punishments by demonstrating their political usefulness.
It follows, then, in the light of the Anthropic Principle, that, if man is to exist as a subject endowed with free will, the iniquity of nature, pain and suffering must also exist.
Frost’s perception of the continuity and unity in historical events came to him through an intuition, or revelation, expressed in “Kitty Hawk”: “Then I saw it all.”
In Panichas’ view, the critic’s responsibility consists, first, in identifying “the highest things,” and then in articulating how this time-bound aesthetic form can function as a means of transcendent revelation.
Careful, in-depth attention to questions of knowledge is one of the preconditions for a reinvigoration of the humanities and social sciences. In the study of man as a social and cultural being, how is knowledge obtained?
Irving Babbitt, the great American humanist, was bound to the modern Chinese culture even though Babbitt himself might not have been aware of it. His erudition and glamour enticed a dozen young Chinese scholars into Harvard University to seek instruction from him.
The only way to do this properly, it seems to me, is to travel along with Homer, hitting the highlights and commenting as I go.
How does Locke understand language and its role in conveying information and meaning between persons?
The novel’s aesthetic and interpretive complexity, it will be seen, underlines the multi-layered meaning of salvation itself, in a modern world in which salvation is not necessarily one of divine grace, of deliverance from sin and damnation, in short, of redemption in the hands of an all-powerful God.
The prestige of historical figures rises and falls, and the tendency for the biggest to fall hardest may be especially prevalent in intellectual history. But there seems something anomalous about Croce's case, as René Wellek, the distinguished historian of criticism, recently emphasized.
Viereck, ever audacious, gives us an account of the poet’s dying and, in consequence, of what our own might be if we could pull it off.
When poets go wrong in this book, which they sometimes do in spectacular ways, they do so for morally comprehensible reasons. Gurney reminds us that Christian virtues can be practiced not only by pagan poets but by readers like ourselves.
When existence is understood as boring and burdensome, often a more dangerous rejection of reality follows.
Many autobiographies are written with an eye toward settling old scores, but this is not one of them. These memoirs are striking because of the absence of any rancor or bitterness toward old intellectual or literary adversaries.
Mark Lilla held that for Kimball "the cause of the Sixties was quite simply . . . the Sixties. They just happened, as a kind of miracle, or antimiracle—Why did such a profound revolution take place?" In my opinion, Kimball’s reply is not entirely satisfactory.
Herder’s goal was to work against social fragmentation and contribute to restoring the human being to its “original unity,” which comprised more than the sum of its individual parts.
Unlike most other texts, the “classics” have the potential to upend our typical modes of understanding, challenge our baser impulses, and confound our historically and culturally constituted presuppositions.
There are many ways to re-read a classic...
They have every luxury and convenience and no punishment—except one. The only torture visited upon its denizens is that they must live in solitary; no debates, conversations, gossip, faction meetings, conspiracies, cross-talk, backbiting.
Tate argued against both censorship by Catholic authorities and what he termed the literary "angelic imagination," advocating instead the Dantesque "symbolic imagination."
Betrayal changes not only our sense of the world, but our sensibility toward the world.
He deliberately sets out to defy Platonic Truth, worshiping the Shadows—the felt, believed, imperfect, flawed perception of touched reality. This—and nothing else—is truth, or at least the only truth that matters.
The older, humanistic tradition look to literature for cultural self-criticism, while the postmodernists look for reinforcement of their pre-existing impulses.
Though not a student of the history of t...
Emerson scholars have long noted the ubi...
At its core, the emphasis on communal perfection seeks to quell the religious anxiety generated by a faith that is demanding, uncertain, and absolutist in its claims.
Justice’s enemies, both Ancient and Modern, were not entirely wrong.
In an ironic turn, the highly imaginative Rousseau worries about arousing the imagination of his pupil. He regards the imagination as “the most active of all” the faculties, but also highly undesirable.
It is argued here that understanding Burke’s romanticism is an important part of understanding Burke. Understanding Burke’s romanticism also helps one understand the subtle ways in which aesthetics, ethics, and politics interact.
It is apt for Plato to describe the quar...
Until recently, the humanistic impulse h...
After Mill discovered Romantic poetry he decided to abandon the “mere reasoning machine” that was his old self—and he emerged from this period a changed man.
The alternative provided by Brautigan is a flight of fancy, an imaginary celebrity in dreamland, where self and world work out just the way we want them.
It is no accident that "The English Patient"—surely the best movie to come on the American screen in a very long time—chooses the Greek Herodotus as a leitmotif.
The Intellectual Kinship of Irving Babbitt and C. S. Lewis: Will and Imagination in That Hideous Strength
According to Lewis scholar Alister McGrath, “From about 1937, Lewis seems to have appreciated that the imagination is the gatekeeper of the human soul.”
In a non-didactic manner, the film offers a lesson that our time badly needs to learn: that all is not gold that glimmers.
If America seeks a future inspired by the virtues of its past, then it must derive inspiration not merely from the founders but also from the Hebraic and Roman Republics.
The Romantics’ value pluralism anchored in virtue ethics is not an abstraction but a concrete negotiation with a world that is by turns beautiful, baffling, and outrageous.
Emerson sees his work as an extension of Plato's.
I shall concentrate on four themes in Babbitt’s writings that are relevant today to the discipline of comparative literature as well as to related disciplines for which the study of literature may be more important than is generally recognized, whether or not these themes have been reflected in recent critical texts.
There are pleasures too numerous to mention within literature, the fine arts, history, mathematics, science, and philosophy. We cannot say with any assurance, however, that these pleasures will dispose the person to virtue.
The student’s psyche must approach its beloved (the beautiful) with reverence, and under the discipline of the intellect.
A careful reading of Kundera’s observations about the novel suggests that they do not quite cross the border to unmeaning, but in any case it is the novels themselves that embody the deeper insight, as the author himself would no doubt cheerfully concede.
Only these figures, their inner lives properly regulated, are meant by nature to rule the rest, just as the head rules the body. “A multitude,” Plato asserts, “cannot be philosophical,” a capacity reserved for a select few.
There is much that is still alive in Santayana’s philosophical explication of Goethe’s Faust, especially Goethe’s appeal to the understanding to be derived from phenomena themselves.