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June 28, 2018

[Early grad-school notes...] I'm reading about John Brown--David Reynolds' John Brown, Abolitionist: The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked the Civil War, and Seeded Civil Rights--an excellent, massive book that rehabilitates Brown from the propaganda that he was insane and a fanatic...

John Brown, hero. R. W. Emerson: “John Brown will make the gallows as glorious as the cross.” Did...

May 28, 2018

[The following thoughts are from this book.]

It’s funny that people often deprecate Marxian materialism as an explanation of society and human behavior, given that virtually no one cares much about ideas. People think they do, but basically they’re wrong. They insist that ideas, ideological motivations, and spiritual matters are very important to them....but then proceed to ignore...

October 25, 2016

I attended my first Episcopalian service last night [in April 2010]. It was Maundy Thursday, so we did the whole foot-washing thing and then the Eucharist, etc. Endless singing and antiphonal rituals, responses, prayers. A certain pungent beauty in the foot-washing, beautiful symbolism. But how foreign it all is to the spirit of the times! A relic of antiquity, as Nietzsche said....

October 18, 2016

A misadventure. [Written in 2006.]— At lunch in the campus center I saw a flyer advertising an event tonight having something to do with dating and sex. I thought ‘Sure, why not’ and went to it. Maybe I’d meet somebody. Turns out it was a meeting for members of some weird underground cult that does nothing but preach about how inferior we all are to some guy named “Jesus Christ.”...

August 27, 2016

I’ve always suspected that people give too much credit to ancient Greeks. They couldn’t have been as divinely original as we’re taught. Lynda Shaffer’s article “Southernization” (1994) and Martin Bernal’s famous book Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization (of which I’m reading only a few dozen pages) validate my suspicions. Their broader points—perhaps wate...

August 8, 2016

Years ago I read and took some notes on various works by Hannah Arendt. In particular her classic Origins of Totalitarianism. It's a great book, although perhaps insufficiently Marxist and somewhat idiosyncratic in a few of its interpretations, so I posted those notes and others on Academia.edu. I also took notes on an interesting book about Max Weber's sociology of culture. And,...

July 16, 2016

Over the years I've taken copious notes on various topics of philosophy. In case anyone is interested, I'll link to several sets of such notes here. First, here are reflections on Roger Scruton's history of modern philosophy, with more extended thoughts on Wittgenstein's famous "private-language argument." 

Second, I wrote notes on George Novack's Marxist history and critique of p...

April 22, 2016

In the Piazza of San Marco in Florence is a church in which lies the dried-out corpse of Saint Antonino from the fifteenth century, his hands folded on his chest in a well-lit glass tomb. The sight is macabre. Above and behind him and all over the church are models of Jesus’s crucifixion, this man being tortured to death on a wooden cross with blood pouring from his hands and his...

April 13, 2016

Karl Kautsky's book on the origins of Christianity is excellent and still deserves to be widely read. I took some notes on it and posted them here.

November 18, 2015

Max Scheler’s Ressentiment (1912), while dated and silly in some respects, is worth reading. Scheler is a semi-Nietzsche in his psychological and phenomenological insights, though also in his misguided contempt for the masses. But he thinks Nietzsche misunderstood true Christianity, as he implies, for example, in the following comparison between the ancient and Christian concepti...

August 10, 2015

I'm finally reading [in 2011] E. P. Thompson’s classic The Making of the English Working Class (1963). Query: why was England so impervious to social and political reform in the early 19th century, during the Industrial Revolution? Answer: in part because in the 1790s “the French Revolution consolidated Old Corruption by uniting landowners and manufacturers in a common panic [ove...

July 13, 2015

[This is another book-excerpt, a negatively charged one this time.]

Nietzsche’s self-appointed task of “revaluating values” isn’t difficult. It requires only a slightly independent mind to see the silliness of conventional wisdom. For example, to be “successful” typically means to obey, to follow institutional norms slavishly, not to have moral and intellectual integrity or to be...

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