The most chilling aspect of Max Weber’s analysis of industrialization is the revelation (obvious once noted) that it began with an empirical failure of classical economics. Specifically, when industrialists tried to increase the supply of labor with higher wages, the increased demand — rather than stimulating supply — depressed it…


“Railroad crossing” The New York Public Library Digital Collections.

I first came across the work of Frédéric Bastiat in Robert Heilbroner’s The Worldly Philosophers, a readable survey of the major economic thinkers, in which Bastiat plays a minor role. I was attracted by Bastiat’s deft use of the reductio ad absurdum, as in his story of a hypothetical “negative…


Our current situation lives up to a word that had lost all meaning.

“Expectation” (1935) by Richard Oelze

Not since irony has a concept been as abused in popular usage as surrealism. Once a calculated attempt to escape the logic that produced the mechanized horrors of a world war, “surreal” now roughly means “strange.” …


From Kant to the coronavirus, the noumenon finds a way.

Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) gingerly approaches “the real” in True Detective, Season 1.

As an overconfident undergraduate dedicated to Sartre and relativism — as I still largely am, with important modifications — I once challenged a pragmatic philosophy professor how we could ever know what was really real.

“Reality objects,” he said. …


Notes on the intersection of anti-art and eternity.

A still from Isidore Isou’s Venom and Eternity (1951).

The ideas flooded in on the train today. If my prayers seem to go unanswered each night on my way home, they are occasionally answered in these early morning floods, when everything seems possible.

I was thinking about how quickly we forget…


An excerpt from the Miami University (of Ohio) Alumni Magazine (of Paul Ryan).

I want to thank Andrew and James for allowing me to contribute to Paul Ryan magazine although I know it’s not because I’m such a talented writer or because my pitch was so good. I know I am here for one reason and one reason only.

I went to college…


What can hold America together?

Rev. William Barber joined assembled clergy at New York’s City Hall yesterday.

How can America function again? How will we ever get beyond this impasse that divides us?

Hegel’s key insight, in a previous era fraught with doubt about the function of the state, was that laws were not enough. Like the properties of the object of…


Farmers counters GEICO with “moose realism.”

A new commercial from Farmers Insurance features “moose as such.”

I walked into the living room last week and caught the end of a new commercial. Brilliant, I thought. Based on the presence of an RV and … a moose, I thought the clever minds at GEICO had freed Jeff the Moose (whose Nietzschean…


How to think the unthinkable.

Truth is like the eye of a hurricane. I mean this as an analogy not a simile. My intention isn’t lyrical, but technical. Like the eye of a hurricane, truth does not exist in a positive sense. …


At age 28, I found myself with a problem that was neither unrelated to nor totally exhausted by compulsive drinking and daily pot smoking. True, these latter led me to compulsively fantasize at my job as a nervous newspaper reporter about the hour when I could finally return home to…

Miles Gloriosus

Just another boastful soldier.

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