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Tag: humanities

Review: Amor Towles’s “A Gentleman in Moscow”

What does a society desperate to escape monarchic domination do with a plucky, refined member of its extant aristocracy? In Amor Towles’s enchanting portrait of post-revolutionary Russia, the answer is to place him under permanent house arrest in The Metropol, Moscow’s most renowned hotel. He will be stripped of his titles, his luxurious lodgings, and [...]

My Year of Bookish Wisdom: 2019

My Year of Bookish Wisdom 2019: War is Present and Peace is Possible As 2019 comes to a close, people around the world will be using the arbitrary milestone of a new decade to reflect on the last ten years and plan for the next ten. I wish I could say that either of these [...]

Review: Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace”

After a captivating but ultimately bitter encounter with Anna Karenina last year, I was worried that Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace would produce similar results. To my surprise and delight, however, War and Peace helped me finally understand why Tolstoy’s work occupies such an important position in literary history. Those determined enough to commit to this epic novel will discover a [...]

What is Friendship? Part Four and Conclusion

Note: This is the final section of a four-part essay. If you haven’t already done so, please begin with the Introduction and Part One. Part Four: Friendship is the crucible in which our global identity should be forged My ethical research and experience have taught me that good in the abstract is accessed most effectively [...]

What is Friendship? Part Three

Note: This is the third section of a four-part essay. If you haven’t already done so, please begin with the Introduction and Part One. Part Three: Friendships are the bedrock of social homeostasis Since the Enlightenment, we have seen a tectonic shift in the way humans understand our nature as social animals––including the relatively new idea [...]

Review: Lauren McCann and Gabriel Weinberg’s “Super Thinking”

Before starting it, I had misgivings about whether Lauren McCann and Gabriel Weinberg’s Super Thinking would be worthwhile for me to read. This was mainly because I have already studied a lot of mental models from various fields of research, and also because it seemed a bit too self-helpy for my taste. But my best friend bought me [...]

What is Friendship? Part Two

Note: This is the second section of a four-part essay. If you haven’t already done so, please begin with the Introduction and Part One. Part Two: Friendships are a narrative resource In the spring of 2012, I was preparing to apply to graduate programs to pursue a doctorate in philosophy. My intended area of study [...]

What is Friendship? Introduction and Part One

Introduction: Why Friendship? I am entering the phase of life in which I am supposed to “put away childish things,” as the Biblical saying goes (1 Corinthians 13:11). I’m in my early thirties, I’ve got a wife, a home, a good job and a dog. What comes next? Have a kid or two, build up your career. [...]

Review: Peter Turchin’s “Ages of Discord”

The work of Peter Turchin has been my most exciting intellectual discovery of 2019. After my mind was blown by War and Peace and War earlier this year, I was delighted to learn that Turchin has published a more recent book demonstrating how the principles of cliodynamics have played out in America. Ages of Discord is a [...]

Review: Cixin Liu’s “Supernova Era”

Cixin Liu is one of the most important science fiction writers of our time. His work displays an expansive creativity and existential gravity that propel readers out of this world while simultaneously grounding us in the inescapable confines of biology and physics. Following his rise in popularity that accompanied the publication of The Three-Body Problem’s [...]