David Marchese interviews writer and veteran Phil Klay on the humanity and inhumanity of war. Klay finds the humanity of war in its moral complexity, the struggle to see and acknowledge the reality of morally complex thinking that goes beyond ideological and partisan positions.
Arendt Center members might recall Matthew Crawford, author of Shopclass as Soulcraft, from his talk at our 2013 Conference Failing Fast: The Educated Citizen in Crisis. Crawford is a philosopher and has also been a motorcycle repairman in addition to a bestselling author. N.S. Lyons recently interviewed Crawford and asked him about “self-governance,” the lost art of being able to lead our lives freely. Very much in the spirit of Max Horkeimer and Theodore Adorno, Crawford is concerned with the ways modern society promises us freedom and enlightenment but inserts us within social, economic, and political systems that make personal as well as political autonomy impossible.
As we struggle to contemplate the impact of humanly developed but now inhumanly powerful artificially intelligent machines, we would do well to recall some of the lessons Arendt drew already from the victory of science and the modern age. Arendt wrote in the Human Condition that the “mathematization of physics, by which the absolute renunciation of the senses for the purpose of knowing was carried through, had in its last stages the unexpected and yet plausible consequences that every question man puts to nature is answered in terms of mathematical patterns to which no model can ever be adequate, since one would have to be shaped after our sense experience.” For Arendt, this separation between “thought and sense experience” means that man can create a man-made reality that defies the human capacity to understand or predict that world. In a similiar way, Slavoj Zizek approaches the present panic around the rise of artificial intelligence. He argues that what will come from artificial intelligence is not simply domination by those who control them, but surprise on the part of those who have created machines they cannot control.
When the Federalist Society at Stanford Law School invited a Federal judge appointed by Donald Trump, some students protested and successfully shut down the talk by persistent heckling. Pamela Paul argues that the real value of invited speakers is not simply the freedom to speak but the imperative to listen.
webinar and Q&A about our Fellowship for High School teachers to bring deliberative democracy into the classroom.
I like to tell my students to read aloud. Whether it is poetry or philosophy, reading the words aloud gives them a physicality and sound that is part of their sense. Also, read in different places. And read walking. To read and talk and think while walking along a wooded path focuses the concentration and also ties the meaning of the word to the world. It seems there is some science behind this. Ferris Jabr argues that there are good reasons why walking encourages creativity of thought.
On the 20th anniversary of America’s war in Iraq, there is a whole lot of taking stock. James Bennet argues that the War in Iraq helped undermine the American consensus at home and around the world. It is the cynicism that the Iraq war unleashed that opened the door for the rise of Donald Trump at home and other demagogues abroad.