Hannah Arendt is a thinker who insists that we make distinctions. One of Arendt’s most controversial distinctions is that between racism and what she alternatively will call “race thinking” in The Origins of Totalitarianism, and then "prejudice" in many of her later essays. In the wake of the shooting in Buffalo last week, John McWhorter made his own distinctions while trying to understand the place of racism in U.S. society. McWhorter argues that we use the word racism today to mean too many things. He states that we need to distinguish between different aspects of what we call racism in order to think more clearly about the problems and prevent such tragedies as the shooting in Buffalo.
Foucault was the most influential critical thinker and philosopher when I was in college in the 1980s. In the 1990s at Berkeley, the ghost of Foucalt loomed large at the cafes he was rumored to have frequented in the 1960s. For nearly half a century, Foucault’s thinking has been at the forefront of academic life in the humanities and social sciences. But that may be changing.
Philip Roth and Hannah Arendt are buried but two meters from each other in the Bard College Cemetery. Two of the greatest Jewish intellectuals and writers of the 20th century, Arendt fled Nazi Germany. Roth, as Corey Robin writes, “fled his parents and kept going home.” In an essay on Roth and Arendt, Robin begins on their shared propensity to challenge the Jewish consensus, to bring a critical eye to bear on their own people.
This week, the New York Times reported on the successful phase III FDA trial of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, MDMA, more commonly known as the club drug Ecstasy or Molly. The introduction of an intense drug-experience-as-medicine represents a particularly Arendtian moment for Western healthcare.
As an academic year of unprecedented trials limps to a close, the predictable articles on grade inflation rise like daisies. It is hard to get worked up. Grade inflation is one of the few facts we can all agree on in our increasingly fact-free world. It is here to stay. But one thing often forgotten is that grade inflation actually hurts students.