Tag Archives | The Enlightenment

The New Science of Progress, and the Old One

News Roundup Editor’s Note: I’m continuing for one more installment of my “News Roundup” format in a last push to catch up with everything that’s been happening while I was completing my book on Atlas Shrugged. I’ve also realized that impeachment news could easily swamp everything else that’s going on in the world, so I […]

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The God That Failed First

On Friday, I sent out an overview of Sohrab Ahmari’s attack on conservative “liberalism”–a word he is using in its correct sense, unfortunately. That piece is now up at The Bulwark. But there is another aspect of that story that I wanted to delve into a little more deeply, which is the brief but dramatic […]

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Salon of the Refused, Episode 14

Episode 14 of my video and podcast series, Salon of the Refused, is now available. I talk with Steven Pinker, author of Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress, about the legacy of the Enlightenment. The conversation includes: exactly how good the state of the world is, “thick” versus “thin” philosophy, the […]

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A Little More Enlightenment

Five Things You Need to Read Today 1. A Little More Enlightenment I recently re-posted my series of articles from last year on the legacy of the Enlightenment, including my review of Steven Pinker’s Enlightenment Now. One year after the publication of that book, Steven Pinker looks back, in an article in Quillette, and responds […]

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Social Media Was a Mistake

Top Stories of the Year: #1 I’ve been counting down the top stories of the year, looking back at the big events of 2018 and reviewing my coverage of them. At the top of the list this year is what we have discovered about the impact of digital media on our public debate—particularly the second […]

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The Vindication of Reason

Nathanael Blake invites me to “discuss our differences over a bottle of whiskey and a large stack of books.” I’ll say yes to the whiskey, though I’ll have a few additions of my own to make to his list of books. This is his introduction to a case that the Enlightenment ideal of rationality is […]

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The Kavanaugh Hearings Are About Reason Versus Emotion

There is only one fundamental dividing line in the reaction to the televised hearings about accusations against Brett Kavanaugh, and it’s not solely a partisan one. It’s the line between those who judged the hearing based on emotions and those who judged it based on reason. The testimony of Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Blasey-Ford, added nothing […]

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Making the “Miracle”

Several recent books on the Enlightenment have sought to celebrate its legacy but have been strangely cursory in their examination of actual Enlightenment thinkers, their ideas, and their influence, sometimes treating the embrace of reason, individual rights, and political freedom as a “miracle” that seemingly came out of nowhere. If you’re interested in the question […]

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Unfrozen Caveman Intellectual

“There is no God in this book.” So begins Suicide of the West, Jonah Goldberg’s contribution to the recent flurry of discussion about the legacy of the Enlightenment. Unfortunately, there’s not much of the Enlightenment in the book, either. If Steven Pinker’s Enlightenment Now treated the philosophical movement of the 18th century as if it […]

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How to Defend the Enlightenment Without Really Trying

The Trump era—which has been characterized by a rise of anti-intellectualism, the ideological muddling of the right, and a swerve toward illiberalism on both sides of the political debate—has, by way of compensation, also produced a mini-revival of interest and debate about the philosophical ideas of the Enlightenment. One of the most prominent entries in […]

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