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Modernity consists of perversions of notions drawn from Christianity; to be a modern means to be deeply enmeshed in them... The part of the title of this talk which I asked to have announced is "The Roots...
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The Raj Quartet is one of the longest, most successfully rendered works of nineteenth-century fiction written in the twentieth century. It has something War and Peace lacks: an evil presence of enormous pathos... The Raj Quartet by Paul Scott (1,032 pages, Everyman's Library, 2007)
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Applying imagination to politics can lead to political wish-fulfillment fantasies or to the enlivening of real communities from within... The topic "Politics and the Imagination" is at once larger and more restricted than "Politics and the Arts,"...
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It is for the soul’s health that we engage in inquiry; right action is the indirect, one might almost say, the unintended, consequence of thinking things through. Indeed, the old understanding of liberal education is that its very liberality consists in its being pursued for its own...
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There is a sickness, traditionally called melancholy, which is particularly at home in communities of learning such as ours. Its visible form can be seen in the engraving by Duerer called Melencolia Prima. Amidst the signs and symbols of...
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I'm uncertain of the joy of reading the Theban plays of Sophocles—the story is just too monstrous—but in accord with the awe. This translation conveys it... Sophocles: The Theban Plays, translated by David R. Slavitt (256 pages, Yale University Press, 2009)
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One of our most remarkable capabilities is our power of at once being and not being in a certain condition. It gives us a way to do justice both to self-avowed fictions and to other people’s truths... Our country’s three...
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Jane Austen's world is as merry as it is good. All the novels are perfect comedies—mirthful throughout and happy in outcome. Despite their brightness and lightness, these novels are in no way trivial—they are simply not concerned with those terrific follies presented to the...
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Plato's Republic: A Study by Stanley Rosen (432 pages, Yale University Press, 2008) Plato's Republic, Stanley Rosen says at the beginning of his book, is "both excessively...
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Moral imagination runs not incidentally but necessarily in tandem with a certain aspect of conservatism, what I think of as imaginative conservatism... The Moral Imagination: From Edmund Burke to Lionel Trilling, by Gertrude Himmelfarb (259 pages, Ivan R. Dee, 2006)

Thomas Jefferson is a kind of incarnate compendium of the Enlightenment. His remarkable openness to its spirit is the philosophical counterpart to his political sensitivity in making himself "a passive auditor of the opinions of others," so as to catch the "harmonizing sentiments of the day" and...
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An odyssey is an adventurous and searching journey, or an intellectual or spiritual quest. It is the proper name for the life of learning. One can shape one's own odyssey into a journey that lacks neither enchantment nor definition... Today’s offering in our Timeless Essay series...
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What is interesting is the ultimate human predicament, when serious principles, serious commitments are at odds, and there is no apparent way to compose them in sight, except for giving something up, or giving in—that will be a surrender of self. Why are we in these predicaments...
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The characteristic frame of mind befitting liberal education is reverent radicality—deep respect and penetrating questions. It is a serious mistake to present liberal education as preoccupied with “questioning,” a surreptitiously skewering aggression on the way things are... Editor’s Note: St. John’s College and Zaytuna College both describe...