Tag Archives | The Enlightenment

The First of Their Return

A Reader’s Guide to Atlas Shrugged, Part 13 Spoiler Alert: You do not need a reader’s guide to Atlas Shrugged—at least not for your first reading. Ayn Rand’s novel is clear, compelling, eminently readable, and perfectly comprehensible on its own terms. Yet Atlas is also a rich and complex novel, with an intricate plot in […]

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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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Collusion

Five Things You Need to Read Today 1. Rule by Executive Order During his final years in office, Barack Obama leaned heavily on attempts to bypass an uncooperative Congress and use “a pen and a phone” to achieve his goals by executive order, whether or not he had the authority to do so. A few […]

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Progressives Against Enlightenment

One of my concerns about the Trump era is that it signals a wave of anti-intellectualism on the right, a collapse in concern for basic ideas. It has also triggered something of an anti-intellectual response on the left, because Trump is the bogeyman who justifies blind, frenetic “resistance” in place of thoughtful criticism and reasoned […]

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The Enlightenment Is Not the Enemy

Jonah Goldberg has a new book out defending the “liberal”—i.e., pro-freedom—legacy of the Enlightenment, the philosophical awakening of the 18th Century. Such a defense is certainly needed in light of the Enlightenment’s wholesale rejection by today’s mainstream intellectuals. Yet this has required many others on the right to come to terms with their views of […]

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