Jay Tolson


Jay Tolson is editor of The Hedgehog Review.

The Varieties of Travel Experience

from The Varieties of Travel Experience, Volume 26, Number 2

Travelers today typically seek meaning and purpose in their voyaging—but not always for the same reasons.

From the Editor

from Missing Character, Volume 26, Number 1

It is the deficit of character that motivates the thematic focus of this issue of The Hedgehog Review.

The Comedian as the Letter K

from Markets and the Good, Volume 25, Number 3

Kafka waited in stillness and solitude for the right words to call forth “the glory of life.”

Introduction: Markets and the Good

from Markets and the Good, Volume 25, Number 3

How, then, do we think beyond what has come to be the tyranny of economics—or perhaps more accurately, how do we put economics in its proper place?

Introduction: Theological Variations

from Theological Variations, Volume 25, Number 2

A growing disenchantment with disenchantment has radically altered the intellectual terrain of the modern world.


from By Theory Possessed, Volume 25, Number 1

We inhabit an unabashedly reality-adjacent world.

Introduction: By Theory Possessed

from By Theory Possessed, Volume 25, Number 1

While it is tempting to quip that theory is the opiate of the intellectuals, the addiction extends well beyond that single class.

Introduction: Hope Itself

from Hope Itself, Volume 24, Number 3

The great danger of our time is the loss of hope.

Market Failure

from The Use and Abuse of History, Volume 24, Number 2

The essential component of the liberal project might be the marketplace of ideas.

From the Editor

from Political Mythologies, Volume 24, Number 1

One of the challenges facing the world’s liberal democracies today is their failure to reckon sufficiently with the sources of civic solidarity that only myths can provide. Acknowledging the necessity of myth should help us think more clearly, critically, and constructively about our political myths

From the Editor

from Authenticity, Volume 23, Number 3

Exploring the evolution, uses, and effects of the distinctly modern cultural ideal of authenticity.

From the Editor

from Distinctions That Define and Divide, Volume 23, Number 2

The capital of the economists is not the only capital that “makes the world go ’round.”

From the Editor

from Who Do We Think We Are?, Volume 23, Number 1

Who do we think we are? And why do we keep seeking answers to that question?

From the Editor

from America on the Brink, Volume 22, Number 3

Americans are beginning to inhabit separate nations.

The Amodernist

from Questioning the Quantified Life, Volume 22, Number 2

Péguy’s critical stance toward both broad coalitions made him neither a modernist nor an antimodernist, but something quite distinctive and instructive.

From the Editor

from Questioning the Quantified Life, Volume 22, Number 2

Numbers are arguably humankind’s most useful technology.

From the Editor

from Monsters, Volume 22, Number 1

We children of the Enlightenment seem determined not only to seek out monsters but also to invent them.

From the Editor

from Eating and Being, Volume 21, Number 3

Sketching a culinary ethos for the twenty-first century.

Homo Saecularis

from Reality and Its Alternatives, Volume 21, Number 2

Who is secular man, and why is he so unhappy?

From the Editor

from Reality and Its Alternatives, Volume 21, Number 2

Reality is for people who can’t handle postmodernism.

From the Editor

from Animals and Us, Volume 21, Number 1

Reconsidering the complex relationship between humans and the wider animal kingdom.

From the Editor

from Identities—What Are They Good For?, Volume 20, Number 2

How do we judge the adequacy, efficacy, or value of various forms of identity in our struggle to secure not only equal rights and privileges but also meaning and community?

From the Editors

from The Human and the Digital, Volume 20, Number 1

Great as they are, the challenges of the digital age are not only profoundly intellectual and conceptual.


from Meritocracy and its Discontents, Volume 18, Number 2

We’re talking about something with far more power than a marketing tool.

When Disaster Is an Invaluable Lesson

Donald Trump’s manner was a declaration of indifference toward the values that make democracy possible.

Introducing Our Spring Issue

What does dominion “over every living thing that moves on the earth” mean? Brute sovereignty and ruthless exploitation? Or thoughtful stewardship and responsible cultivation?

Charlottesville Daze

The fish rots from the head, runs an old adage. But it does not really describe America’s current condition. The rot is general through the body politic.

Will Trump Cure the Great (White) Depression?

For the moment, according to Thomas Edsall, the former sufferers of what might be called the Great White Depression are feeling "elated." What might this mean?

Introducing the Fall Issue: The Cultural Contradictions of Modern Science

As the power of science grows, its dominion extends even into areas of our culture where its proclaimed authority is questionable.

The World Our Parents Left Us

Throughout an increasingly fractured nation—and not just America, but other Western nations—too many citizens felt that they were being left behind...

T. S. Eliot on Psychology and the Modern Novel

Eliot credits Dostoevsky with peering into the abyss at least as intently as Freud and his acolytes did, but nevertheless coming away from the experience with a richer, fuller, and, yes, deeper understanding of human psychology.

What We're Reading This Summer

Summer reads from THR staff and friends.

The Politics of Spectacle in Putin's Russia: An Interview with Peter Pomerantsev

The first thing Putin did when he took control, when he became president, was to seize control of TV—even before he took control of oil, energy, or anything else. So this is very much a system of political authoritarian control that is exercised through TV.

Media Excess, Disruption, and the Future of the University

In his new book, Chad Wellmon argues against those who claim that the research university is an outmoded, bureaucratic institution ripe for disruption.

The End(s) of History

Moyn's ambition for the discipline of history undercuts its legitimacy as a distinct form of knowledge and denies the ethic of the craft.

What Is It About Culture?

When the word culture was selected as Merriam-Webster’s word of the year for 2014, we at The Hedgehog Review took notice.

A Century of The New Republic

Still fundamentally liberal in spirit, though less certain than ever about what liberalism means, the magazine reflects the uncertainty that many Americans feel about the viability of politics, and political ideas, in our fragile democracy.

Divided We (Barely) Stand

Brooks is persuasive about the pernicious consequences of partyism, but I find his explanation for it both baffling and incomplete.

Cowardice and Ebola

Consider the current debate over the appropriate response to the Ebola virus as it spreads beyond its epicenter in West Africa. Does the discourse of cowardice, and its antonyms bravery and courage, play any role in this debate? Should it?

Looking Beyond the New Numbers on Poverty

The new U.S. Census report on poverty and income offers a glimmer of light in an otherwise somber landscape.

Are We Losing the Attention War?

In its upcoming summer issue, The Hedgehog Review has invited contributors to examine aspects of our attention disorder that seldom receive careful consideration. As they show, attention may be far less a technological or neurobiological problem than a cultural, ethical, and philosophical one, bound up with our deepest ideas about the human person and the purposes of our lives.

She Knew Why the Caged Bird Sings

Maya Angelou, born Marguerete Ann Johnson in St. Louis, Missouri in1928, died today in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, having accomplished in a little over 86 years what would take most gifted people at least two lifetimes to equal.

Happy Birthday, Brown v. Board of Education!

Yes, there are still reasons to rejoice. One of the most powerful bulwarks of Jim Crow segregation began to fall that day in 1954, when the high court justices unanimously overruled the "separate but equal" doctrine encased in the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision

Portrait of America's Young Adults: Wary but Optimistic

Generational snapshots sometimes confound us in the ways actual photographs do.


If the world is turning into a bleak stage for the cynical manipulation and abuse of democratic principles for undemocratic, illiberal, or simply self-aggrandizing ends, then the United States cannot hold itself entirely blameless.

The Culture War and America's Image Abroad

America did not always think that its image should be entrusted solely to its popular culture machine. For a time, and quite successfully, it devoted considerable resources to advancing its values and principles through public diplomacy.

Self-Knowledge in the Age of the Digital Panopticon

A short piece in the British thought journal Prospect, "Quantified Self: The Algorithm of Life," reminds me once again that satire of the dystopian variety can barely keep up with what the real world throws at us every day.

The Best Case for the Humanities

Many years ago, a friend of mine was asked what she planned to do with her English degree after she graduated from university. Her reply was terse but only partly ironic: "I plan to read novels."

Lyndon Johnson's War

Few would dispute that America’s war on poverty—declared 50 years ago by President Lyndon B. Johnson in his State of the Union Address—is still a long way from over. With 15 percent of Americans today living under the poverty line, only four percent fewer than when Johnson launched his campaign, many might even agree with Ronald Reagan’s stinging assessment that “poverty won.”

Is the Distracted Life Worth Living?

Philosophy is something close to a national pastime in France, a fact reflected not just in the celebrity status of its big thinkers but also in the interest its media show in the subject. So perhaps it's not surprising that several French publications recently sent correspondents, interviewers, and even philosophers to the Richmond, Va. motorcycle repair shop of Matthew Crawford, mechanic, philosopher, and a senior fellow at the University of Virginia's Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture.

60 Minutes Bows to Amazon, Delivery Drones, and the Endless Joys of Disruption

60 Minutes has never been the journalistic paragon of its makers' proud imaginings, but its slips have been particularly noticeable of late.

Have Children Become the New Opium of the Masses?

Without going to any pains to prove it, Stewart charges that while previous ages valued honor, glory, heroic achievements, or an active public life, ours is "the first civilization to find its deepest fulfillment in its descendants. Our opium," he adds, "is our children."

Humanities, Heal Thyself!

News that humanities enrollments and majors are declining in American universities is not quite news, but the New York Times recently devoted first-page attention to the trend, complete with some numbers that might be scary to at least part of the professoriate.