Monday, November 30, 2020

T. S. Eliot’s animus

Adam Kirsch "On T. S. Eliot and the role of the poet-critic" at The New Criterion.
"He was the rare writer whose best essays were as significant and influential as his best poems."
See Eliot's essays "Dante" and "Tradition and Individual Talent" in Gateway to the Great Books (10 Vol., 1963) volume 5, and his poem "The Waste Land" in Great Books of the Western World (second edition, 60 Vol., 1990) volume 60.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Paul W. Ludwig review of Delba Winthrop on Aristotle

Public Spiritedness: Aristotle's lessons about democracy are ancient but not superseded, by Paul W. Ludwig, review of Aristotle, Democracy and Political Science, by Delba Winthrop, at the Claremont Review of Books.

See the Works of Aristotle in Great Books of the Western World (first edition, 52 Vol., 1952) volumes 8-9; and Great Books of the Western World (second edition, 60 Vol., 1990) volumes 7-8

Saturday, November 28, 2020

AI Can Never Think

AI Can Never Think: The Uniqueness of Human Thought, by Jason Nehez, Studia Gilsoniana.
"As the saying goes, imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, yet very few assume imitation to be equivalence. An original masterpiece may be worth millions while a copy, no matter how exact the resemblance, would yield just a fraction of the price. I propose that there is more to thought than a machine will ever be capable of. The imitation game, while reproducing an imitation that is something like human thinking and interaction, will never achieve that same unique mode of thinking we experience as human species. This presentation aims to outline some of the hidden assumptions in the Turing Test for the computational theory of mind, explain some of the most popular arguments against the computational model of thought today, provide some original thought experiments, and finally discuss briefly the unique aspects of human thought that may never be able to be replicated in a machine."

Friday, November 27, 2020

Mortimer Adler: Ten Philosophical "Mistakes"

Frank Robinson at The Rational Optimist blog, (Albany) Times Union.
"...Adler goes on to distinguish between 'natural desires' (’inherent in our nature’ and thus the same in all humans) and 'acquired desires' unique to each individual. That is, differentiating between 'needs' and 'wants.' Adler asserts that '[w]hatever we need is really good for us. There are no wrong needs. We never need anything to an excess that is really bad for us.' It’s only our 'wants' that can go to an excess bad for us."

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Bernard Russo on Hardy's 'A Mathematician's Apology'

Bernard Russo's presentation on this work by G. H. Hardy for a Freshman Seminar at the University of California, Irvine.

This work is included in Great Books of the Western World (second edition, 60 Vol., 1990) volume 56.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Michael Gorra on Faulkner's 'The Sound and the Fury'

In Episode 155 of The Great Books podcast at National Review, host "John J. Miller is joined by Michael Gorra of Smith College to discuss William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury".

See Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily"in Great Books of the Western World (second edition, 60 Vol., 1990) volume 60.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Benedictine College earns Hidden Gems distinction

The Atchison Globe reported,
"The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) honors a select group of collegiate academic honors programs as 2020’s 'Hidden Gems.' Hidden Gems deserve the attention of students who seek an outstanding education grounded in the study of American government, history, and the Great Books of Western Civilization.


"The newest addition to the Hidden Gem directory is Benedictine College’s Great Books Program. ..."

Monday, November 23, 2020

How to Reopen the American Mind

Jon Baskin and Anastasia Berg, editors of The Point, at The New York Times. "

In the midst of such an existential crisis for higher education, is it even reasonable to expect the humanities to survive? At first glance, it might seem that the contentious philosophical and ideological debates that forged conservative and liberal ideas of higher education have little to offer us now. Yet we believe not only that those debates remain relevant, but also that the challenges brought on by the pandemic make them essential to being able to imagine any kind of future for humanistic thinking."

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Political Philosophy and Human Nature in Thomas Aquinas

Essay by Anthony A. Akinwale at Studia Gilsonaina.

"Taking into account and responding to two sets of objections to Thomas Aquinas’ credentials as political philosopher, the essay examines his political philosophy, its presupposed understanding of human nature, and its portrayal in his philosophy of law. Analysing the defining features of law in Aquinas places before the reader features of human nature, namely, rationality, relationality and religiosity. These traits enable one to find responses to what Charles Taylor has identified as “three malaises” of contemporary society and culture, namely, individualism, instrumental reason, and the political consequences of both."
See Summa Theologica in Great Books of the Western World (first edition, 52 Vol., 1952) volumes 19-20, and Great Books of the Western World (second edition, 60 Vol., 1990) volumes 17-18.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

What’s Wrong With One-Term Presidents?

Timothy Noah at Washington Monthly
"When I first started working as a political journalist in 1980 the conventional wisdom wasn’t that presidents who failed to win re-election were losers. It was that American politics had become so fractious that two-term presidencies were becoming an impossibility. ...

"A proposed solution much discussed around the time of Carter’s failed re-election bid was the six-year presidency. You couldn’t be taken seriously as a good-government type if you didn’t give it serious consideration. Even before Carter lost, his White House counsel Lloyd Cutler published a widely read piece in the fall 1980 Foreign Affairs about limiting presidencies to a single six-year term. The Great Books evangelist Mortimer Adler supported it (“I think we have some reason to believe that the second term often turns out to be disastrous”). William F. Buckley supported it. ..."
Adler apparently said this in an interview by Buckley on Firing Line, April 24, 1987.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Ideas and Their Circumstances

David Gordon reviews America’s Revolutionary Mind: A Moral History of the Founding and the Declaration That Defined It (2019), by C. Bradley Thompson, and America on Trial: A Defense of the Founding, by Robert R. Reilly, at Modern Age.

"Two thinkers come to the defense of America’s founding principles: one from a Randian perspective, the other from a Thomist. Who’s closer to the truth?"

See "Great Documents" in Gateway to the Great Books (10 Vol., 1963) volume 6, and "American State Papers" in Great Books of the Western World (first edition, 52 Vol., 1952), volume 43, and Great Books of the Western World (second edition, 60 Vol., 1990) volumen 40.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

The Adams family

John Steele Gordon reviews Heirs of an Honored Name: The Decline of the Adams Family and the Rise of Modern America, by Douglas R. Egerton, at The New Criterion.
"Henry Adams (1838–1918) was one of the most distinguished American intellectuals of his time. His nine-volume history of the United States between 1800 and 1817 is still highly regarded, and his autobiography, The Education of Henry Adams, written in the third person, is regarded as one of the masterpieces of American literature."
See works by Henry Adams in Gateway to the Great Books (10 Vol., 1963) volumes 6 and 10.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Chekhov’s 2020 vision

Kyle Smith on the Russian doctor’s enduring diagnoses of societal ills, at The New Criterion.

"Yes, we think upon reading his four supreme works—The Seagull, Uncle Vanya, Three Sisters, and The Cherry Orchard—that is exactly how people are."
See works by Chekhov in Gateway to the Great Books (10 Vol., 1963) volumes 3 and 4, and Great Books of the Western World (second edition, 60 Vol., 1990) volume 59.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

The Rise and Fall of the Western Civilization Course

Gilbert Allardyce in The American Historical Review, Vol. 87, No. 3 (Jun., 1982), pp. 695-725 at Semantic Scholar

(via Claremont Review of Books)

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

The labours of Doug Jones

"A prophet of Deep South moderation illustrates liberalism’s present pains and future promise". Columnist "Lexington" at The Economist, thirteen months ago.
"A leftward turn might not stop the Democrats winning the White House. But it might make it impossible for them to regain control of the Senate, given the disproportionate weighting it gives to relatively small and conservative states. Besides Alabama, they include Arizona, Colorado and North Carolina, which will hold Senate races next year that the Democrats must win to have a hope of unified government."

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Reading Rat - October 2020

Articles, Essays, Reviews

Suicide of the Liberals, by Gary Saul Morson, First Things

A closer look at some of our favorite overcomplicated MKE intersections, by Matt Hrodey, Milwaukee Magazine

On Fraternity and Social Friendship (Fratelli Tutti), Encyclical Letter by Pope Francis

What books should be in every Catholic’s reference library? by John Burger, Aleteia

How Justice Dan Kelly Has Helped Transform the Wisconsin State Supreme Court, by Charles J. Szafir and Jake Curtis, The Federalist Society

New DHS Threat Assessment: Expect a Mass Illegal Migration Crisis Next Year: National security 'threat actors' from outside the Western Hemisphere likely to surge, too, by Todd Bensman, Center for Immigration Studies

God’s own designs, edited review by Roger Penrose of The Mathematical Experience by Philip Davis and Reuben Hersh, The Times Literary Supplement

Monday, August 17, 2020

"Democratic nominee will not be male"

Friday, July 31, 2020

Reading Rat - July 2020

Articles, Essays, Reviews

Imperfect but perfectly human, review of Martin Buber: A life of faith and dissent, by Paul Mendes-Floh, The Times Literary Supplement

The Legend of the Lake Michigan Triangle, by Archer Parquette, Milwaukee Magazine

Are Protests Dangerous? What Experts Say May Depend on Who’s Protesting What, by Michael Powell, The New York Times

State task force to focus on expanding broadband internet access, by JT Cestkowski, WKOW Madison

How to Design a Post-Pandemic City, by Alex Wittenberg, Bloomberg CityLab (via Scottt Olster at LinkedIn

How 'White Fragility' Talks Down to Black People, by John McWhorter, review of White Fragility, by Robin DiAngelo, The Atlantic

Stan Lee’s American pantheon, by Sam Leith, review of Stan Lee: A Life in Comics, by Liel Leibovitz, Prospect Magazine

Wilder than the wind: Re-reading Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, by Lauren Elkin, Times Literary Supplement

Stanley Fish and the Argument Against Free Speech, by Blake Smith, Tablet

I Tried It: Learning Guitar While Stuck at Home, by Archer Parquette, Milwaukee Magazine

The Characteristics of White Supremacy Culture, From Dismantling Racism: A Workbook for Social Change Groups, by Kenneth Jones and Tema Okun, ChangeWork, 2001, at Showing Up for Racial Justice (via Mickey Kaus)

Have $2 Million? You Could Buy Tony Zielinski’s House in Bay View, by Kristine Hansen, Milwaukee Magazine

The Constitution and the Antagonist World, by Russell Kirk, from Rights and Duties: Reflections on our Conservative Constitution (Spence Publishing Company, 1997), at The Russell Kirk Center

Top-10 things to understand about making political contributions, by Jason Kohout and Erika Alba, Wisconsin Law Journal

Tree Houses on Lost Ridge is, or was, the name of a vacation home development outside Galena, Illinois, which included several Braniger-built Bartoli-Brady designed "tree houses, there called Bartoli Ridgetoppers. We called the one we rented a few times "The Old Jetson Place" because of the design. It and several other examples are at 2 Lost Ridge Lane, a fixer-upper, 4 Lost Ridge Lane, and 6 Lost Ridge Lane, 7 Lost Ridge Lane #204, and 8 Lost Ridge Lane. The Treehouse Villas at Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa are a related design.


Great Conversation Reading Group, Current Reading from the Ten Years Reading Plan in Great Books of the Western World:
- August 2020: Principles of Psychology, Ch. VIII-X, by William James
- September 2020: Tristam Shandy, by Laurence Sterne

Great Books 2018-2019 Readings for the Great Books Roundtable Discussions at Special Collections on the Fourth Floor of the Golda Meir Library, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee;

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Reading Rat - June 2020

How to Calculate Your Printer’s Cost per Page, by Eric Stowell, LD Blog

How the Pandemic Is Clouding the Hop’s Future: As the coronavirus cuts into the Milwaukee streetcar’s ridership, it also raises long-term questions about changing transit habits, by Larry Sandler, Milwaukee Magazine

Radiation Politics in a Pandemic: Why is Covid-19 science making us more partisan? by Taylor Dotson, The New Atlantis

What’s The Correct Way To Organize Your Bookshelf? Debate Club feature at FiveThirtyEight

As progressive icons fall, Madison feels the pain and heaviness of history, by Ruth Conniff, Wisconsin Examiner

The Architecture of Servitude and Boredom, by Russell Kirk, The Russell Kirk Center

Our Bookless Future, by Mark Bauerlein, review of Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in the Digital World, by Maryanne Wolf, and What We Talk About When We Talk About Books: The History and Future of Reading, by Leah Price, Claremont Review of Books

Catastrophism and Control, by Theodore Dalrymple, review of Épidémies: vrais dangers et fausses alertes, by Didier Raoult, and The Rules of Contagion: Why Things Spread—and Why They Stop, by Adam Kucharski, First Things


Guide to Events Summer 2020, Franklin Public Library, Franklin, Wisconsin

Great Conversation Reading Group, Current Reading from the Ten Years Reading Plan in Great Books of the Western World:
July, Faust, by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Part I;
August, Principles of Psychology, by William James, Ch. VIII-X;

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Reading Rat - May 2020

Articles, Essays, Reviews

Teaching cursive and/or coding: Where should Wisconsin draw (or type) the line? by Jeremy Thiesfeldt, Badger Institute

Televisions with the best OTA tuners, antennas, Samsung Q60T television and Roku best for streaming, Sound Advice column, by Don Lindich (via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

With schools closed, these South Milwaukee theater students created a virtual play, 'The Quaranteens', by Alec Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


Imagine Your Story, Collaborative Summer Reading Program

Great Conversation Reading Group, Current Reading from the Ten Years Reading Plan in Great Books of the Western World:
June, Capital, by Karl Marx, Prefaces, Part I-II;
July, Faust, by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Part I

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Reading Rat - April 2020

Articles, Essays, Reviews

I apologise to the Jewish community — rebuilding your trust starts now, by Keir Starmer, Evening Standard

How Rituals and Focus Can Turn Isolation Into a Time for Growth, by Arthur Kleinman, The Wall Street Journal

Why New Jersey’s Unemployment Insurance System Uses a 60-Year-Old Programming Language, by Elena Botella, Slate

Books of dying: The grim plight of New York’s booksellers, essay hy Benjamin George Friedman, The Times Literary Supplement

Student Library at the Open Library

Outside government: compassion, innovation, flexibility, Highway funding, which relies on the gas tax, will be hard hit as fuel sales decline, by Marie Rohde, Badger Institute

Universal School Library at the Internet Archive

Milwaukee Public Libraries Increase Digital Access to Members, Milwaukee Magazine

T.S. Eliot's notebook, by Jayme Stayer, at YouTube (via Jesuits)

Catholics in Crisis, by Claes G. Ryn, originally published in The American Conservative, March/April 2020, posted at the Center for the Study of Statesmanship, The Catholic University of America.

Why America Must Lead Again: Rescuing U.S. Foreign Policy After Trump, by Joseph R. Biden, Jr., Foreign Affairs, March/April 2020

Taking Sheen Seriously, by James M. Patterson, First Things

The New York Times Magazine profile of Weird Al Yankovic in its April 12th edition is behind the paywall, so here's "Frankie Goes to Hollywood", Weird Al's tribute to Frankle Yankovic and guide to the 28th Annual Grammy Awards, then upcoming on February 25, 1986.

Frankie went on to win the Polka Grammy for 70 Years of Hits, but Weird Al, nominated in Comedy for Dare to Be Stupid, lost to Whoopi Goldberg.


Great Conversation Reading Group, Current Reading from the Ten Years Reading Plan in Great Books of the Western World: May, The Life of Samuel Johnson, by James Boswell; June, Capital, by Karl Marx, Prefaces, Part I-II

Great Books 2018-2019 Readings for the Great Books Roundtable Discussions at Special Collections on the Fourth Floor of the Golda Meir Library, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee: May 27th, Richard II, by William Shakespeare.