Romantic Modernism and the Self

John Steadman Rice

The Romantic Modernists’ convictions regarding the divine essence of humankind were the basis for their antipathy toward social conventions and institutions.

French Secularism and the “Islamic Veil Affair”

Talal Asad

The ways in which the concept of “religion” operates in that culture as motive and as effect, how it mutates, what it affords and obstructs, what memories it shelters or excludes, are not eternally fixed. 

States, Religious Diversity, and the Crisis of Secularism

Rajeev Bhargava

Western conceptions of political secularism do not appear to have travelled well to other societies.

Rethinking Secularism

Craig Calhoun

The root notion of the secular is a contrast not to religion but to eternity.

Recess Coaches

The Editors

In an era of life coaches, we now have “recess coaches.”

Justice: Thick and Thin

Daniel Philpott

Rare are intellectuals who both achieve a leading status in their field and relentlessly pursue knowledge that seeks to better the lives of ordinary people. Amartya Sen is one.

Beyond Tocqueville’s Telescope

Arlie Hochschild and Sarah B. Garrett

To what degree have we turned away from the public sphere and the obligations it lays upon us? Has this happened across all realms of life, or more in some realms and less in others?

An Interview with Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell

Richard Madsen

When people’s personal friendship networks become more religiously diverse, that seems to make them more accepting of other faiths, but it also turns out that if you add friends within a congregation, more church friends, you actually become more civically engaged.

Does Money Undermine Social Relations?

Eva Illouz

The ideology of the pure gift is not foreign or extraneous to the monetization of relationships.

Holding Them Closer

Carl Desportes Bowman

The successful formation and launching of children still matters; it is just that parents don’t want to launch them very far.

The Cultural Contours of Parenthood

Stephanie Muravchik

Given that most Americans now assume that children are priceless and fragile, it is no surprise that many have striven to remove all risks they might face.

The Apocalyptic Strain in Popular Culture

Paul A. Cantor

Among their many meanings, zombies have come to symbolize the force of globalization.

The Gospel of the American Dream

Tony Tian-Ren Lin

The hope of reform and renewal, the conviction that things could get better, was crucial to the founding of this nation.

The Witness of Literature

Alan Jacobs

To the arguments of Huxley and Tyndall against traditional religion, Yeats had no answer until literature and the other arts came to the rescue.

Science Anxiety

Ari N. Schulman

There is a long series of instances in which public health agencies have responded to disease outbreaks with dangerous Pollyannaism, seemingly violating their core mission.

Vocation in the Valley

Philip Lorish

What kind of society can be produced from a work culture that demands so much from its workers without offering them stability in return?

Better Living Through Bibliotherapy

Chad Wellmon and Paul Reitter

Majoring in English, the sales pitch now goes, will help you craft your soul.

No Ordinary Place

Clare Coffey

For some friends of the library, no defense of the stacks is necessary.

A Distant Elite

Wilfred M. McClay

Rule by merit is, after all, no respecter of persons.

Being There

Wilfred M. McClay

A human person is a historical being, in whom the past remains immanent in the present, and whom the wear and tear of time enhances rather than diminishes.

Virtuosos of Idleness

Charlie Tyson

Our crisis of work is accompanied by a crisis of idleness.

The Inner Life of a Sinking Ship

Greg Jackson

I am concerned with the quality of our choices as choices, and I am interested in excavating from our behaviors and artifacts an archaeology of our emotional life in the hope that naming these feelings can help us begin to reclaim our choices as our own.

From the Editor

Jay Tolson

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


Wilfred M. McClay

My new old friend. An odd formulation. 

Technology and Modern Friendship

Richard Hughes Gibson

The interplay of friendship and technology has been far longer-running than we think.

Body and Soul at Table

Wilfred M. McClay

Food is a strong proof of our animality; it is equally strong evidence of how we transcend it.

Solving for André, Subtracting Simone

Robert Minto

A grotesque and caricatured version of Simone Weil undermines an otherwise good book.


Wilfred M. McClay

Like a lover of endangered species, the lover of endangered words jumps for joy when he sees a word being rescued.

Inviting Evil In

Paul A. Cantor

We have met the monsters, and they are us.

Lockdown Nostalgia

S.D. Chrostowska

Back to normal? So soon?

Quantifying Vitality

Jackson Lears

Statistics in the Progressive Era were more than mere signs of a managerial government’s early efforts to sort and categorize its citizens.

To Have and To Hold

Becca Rothfeld

In the end, your collection always ends up collecting you.

Closing Time

Clare Coffey

We’re all counting bodies.

O imitators, you slavish herd!

Christopher Sandford

In the event you needed any further bad news in this year of the coronavirus pandemic, you’ll find it in this piercing, distressing, and shaming account of our tendency to follow the herd.

Expletive Defeated

Wilfred M. McClay

We need more profanity? Aren’t we already being inundated with it?

A Divine Comedy

Eugene McCarraher

Like the “radical orthodoxy” associated with John Milbank, Stanley Hauerwas, and an array of other British and American theologians, Hart’s project of rejuvenation has been no narrowly theological or academic exercise.

The Press and the Police

Sophie Haigney

When you turn to the news, what you will encounter, overwhelmingly, is crime.

Thinking the Worst of Ourselves

Jackson Arn

We might be murderers, and we might not, but isn’t it safer to assume we are and be proven wrong? Maybe not.

Puritans’ Progress

Peter Skerry

What do we mean by culture? Don’t ask me, I’m a political scientist.

Straightness Studies

Phoebe Maltz Bovy

Straight women are not unusually boring. We are, however, coded.

The Unchosen Condition

Malloy Owen

Is there really anything left to say about White Fragility?

“Peace” and the Organization Kid

Mike St. Thomas

Have we exchanged our desire for its objects?

By Whose Waters We Wept…

Charles Mathewes

“White Christian nationalism” remains a grievance-driven mode of whiteness.

The Brass Ring

Jonathan B. Imber

Is credentialism “the last acceptable prejudice”?

The Dehumanization Debate

Oliver Traldi

Why do people commit acts of cruelty?

Notes on Naff

Sean Wyer

 Naffness is not an idea. It is a sensibility.

A Different Sense of Privilege

Steve Lagerfeld

Privilege today still comes with strings attached, but they are different now.

Opinion Fetishism

Alexander Stern

In any case, trying to use Twitter as a public square is like hiking the Matterhorn at Disneyland. Like the Matterhorn, Twitter is an amusement, not a place for exploration.

Identity Tethering in an Age of Symbolic Politics

Mark Dunbar

The less politics effects change, the more politics will affect mood.

Capital Inequalities

Shamus Khan

We may well need to transcend the capital analogy.

Awareness Daze

Phoebe Maltz Bovy

Awareness is not the opposite of ignorance. Rather, it’s a stand-in for performative gestures of all kinds.

Anything But True Love

Talbot Brewer

Is love so discrete and impregnable that it can subsist in the midst of the most repellent undertakings?

The Fake Book of Negroes

Gerald Early

Black Americans still embrace the exodus story as the defining trope of their collective experience.

How to Be Yourself

Joseph E. Davis

How is an alignment of the authentic self and the college admissions process possible?

My Identity Problem

Alan Shapiro

We used to want to assimilate into the mainstream. Now identity is front and center of what we want the world to know about us.

The Once and Vital Center

Antón Barba-Kay

The mythic bipartisan center was never a matter of niceness.

The Return of the King

Philip S. Gorski

We see the peculiar features of neoauthoritarianism as quite real modern-day reincarnations of the ancient tradition of divine kingship.

Injured Parties

Alan Jacobs

Ehrenerklärung—public acknowledgment of false accusations—is not one of the options offered by our social media culture.

Judge Knot

Matthew Mutter

Does the loss of confidence in the humanities suggest a problem about knowledge or a problem about value?

American Restlessness

Matt Dinan

Why precisely are the most fortunate of us the most restless? How can our private, individual restlessness explain our public, political sclerosis?

Awaiting a New Prophetic Dispensation

Ian Marcus Corbin

Perhaps we can tuck our disagreements about fundamental things away into our private lives, and let the public sphere be a place for adjudicating public things.

Planetary Goggles

Rhoda Feng

Viewing the Anthropocene as “a measure of human impact on the planet” allows us to tell only one story.

Sex and Power

Lily Meyer

Is a feminist movement that speaks straight at me, let alone one whose central goal is to liberate me further, really a good use of anybody’s time?


Wilfred M. McClay

Mystery gets too little respect.

Insensitivity Training

Carl Elliott

The challenge of institutional ethics training is not just teaching rules, regulations, and norms—but teaching employees to care.

Robert Bellah’s Search for Unity

Philip S. Gorski

Bellah held the conviction that religious matters were not purely intellectual, much less merely academic.

Staying for the Truth

Alan Jacobs

The only way out of this prison of self-deception and self-justification is to love and seek the truth.

Sex Positivity

Phoebe Maltz Bovy

What women do want matters as much as what we don’t.

The Impotence of Being Clever

Alexander Stern

The cleverness that proliferates in public life today is a nuisance.

On Hope and Holy Fools

Tara Isabella Burton

To hope is a kind of foolishness.

Is There Hope for Marriage?

Mary Harrington

Postromantic solidarity provides a basis for real hope.

The Eternal Hope of the Wandering Jew

David Stromberg

I’ve been cursed to envision peace without ever experiencing it myself.

The Right to Care

Adin Lears

Defenders of abortion might more wisely reframe their case around the central importance of care.

Corporate Maternalism

Andrew Lynn

What hath the kindergarten to do with the office?

A Time of Regret

Paul Scherz

We moderns have acquired a new experience of time.

Mental Medicine

Joseph E. Davis

More disorder, more screening, more care: the familiar talking points, all dutifully repeated.

Hannah Arendt and the Loss of a Common World

Michael Weinman

The practice of exercising judgment requires that very common sense upon which a common world is based.

From Frankfurt to Fox

Malloy Owen

There is the looming sense that critical theory is somehow near the center of the crisis of our time.

Desire in the Cave

Mary Townsend

The fact is that we do not hold desire and reason together very well.

“I Love You” (in Theory)

Blake Smith

“I love you!” Barthes said really means “Love me!”

Sex and Privacy

Lily Meyer

The confused politics of discussing sex in public.


Jay Tolson

We inhabit an unabashedly reality-adjacent world.

Enchantments of the One and Zero Mirror

Antón Barba-Kay

What is the relationship between our conception of ultimate purpose and digital technology?

Beyond Progressivism

John Milbank

We are witnessing the ultimate emergence of tensions latent in the very foundations of the modern.

The Far Invisible

Alan Jacobs

Pynchon diagnosed our idolatry of the inanimate.

The Satmar Option

Rita Koganzon

Where do the Hasidim fit in the American picture of religious liberty?

The Great Malformation

Talbot Brewer

More and more, our lives happen there, on the screens of the bleeping little tyrants in our pockets.

The Need for Mourning

Paul Franz

Surely among the proper responses to despair is something more like disdain, contempt, loathing, a refusal to stoop—in short, a refusal to surrender?

Friendship as Soulcraft

Matt Dinan

Because you don’t need friends, and they don’t need you, you must seek them out.

How We Obscure the Common Plight of Workers

Jonathan Malesic

Work is hard in large part because it is a site where people place serious demands on each other. Meeting those demands can be painful.

An Economic Theology of Liberalism

Deirdre Nansen McCloskey

True adulthood in a true liberalism depends on properly using God’s gift of liberty of the will.

Friendship and the Common Good

Andrew Willard Jones

Friendship is the reason for our lives. Nothing is more important.

Technoculture and the Plausibility of Unbelief

L.M. Sacasas

The rise of unbelief is correlated to the lived experience of urban and industrial settings.

The Denial of the Moral as Lived Experience

James Davison Hunter

The young will be formed. The question is how.

Sorting the Self

Christopher Yates

The self has never been more securely an object of classification than it is today.

The Necessity of Networks

James C. Rahn

The Claphamites unquestionably launched a revolution in manners that shaped what we have come to know as Victorian morality.

Beating Slow Horses

Brad East

Mick Herron’s Jackson Lamb is a casualty of both the Cold War and its aftermath.

Waking From the Dream of Total Knowledge

Daniel Kraft

Considering how relationships of cooperation and perhaps even solidarity might be forged between human beings and animals.

Flaubert’s Antisentimental Sex

Joshua Hren

We would do well to heed Kafka’s insight that Flaubert found in family life a kind of flourishing he himself failed to seek.

Thinking About Homelessness

Stephen Hitchcock

Thinking about homeless requires separating it from the larger discourse on poverty.

Back to the City! Back to the Country!

Stephen Assink

One of the most salient features of the post–World War II suburb was its localization of the American middle class and its propagation of practices of mass consumption.

The Power of Play in the Public Square

Wendy Baucom

The renovated Place de la République shows the power of the public square.

Reclaiming Connections

David Peterson

According to Sherry Turkle's latest book, my peers and I simply can’t stand sitting alone with our thoughts, and it’s hurting our capacity for intimacy.

Impossible Wonder

Paul Nedelisky

Does understanding really rule out wonder?

The Dance of the Porcupines

Marie Kolkenbrock

There is a risk that we will compensate for the current sense of crisis and isolation with too much closeness.

Lockdown Nostalgia

S.D. Chrostowska

The return to normalcy will be long, and we might even change our mind along the way.

You liberal you!

Mark Edmundson

A human spirit of community and kindness can be learned. But it can also be forgotten.

Toward a New Universalism

Shahrzad Sabet

The gap between our concepts of love and justice has served us poorly.

The Fantasy of Self-Forgiveness

Gordon Marino

We need to preserve a distinction between recognizing our transgressions and resolving to change, on one hand, and imagining that we can forgive ourselves, on the other.

More Than Just a Word

Richard Hughes Gibson

Americans have been making arguments about the nature of their unity from the beginning.

Apart of a Community—Or a Part of It

Scott M. Reznick

Reading and interpreting poetry offers a unique way to cultivate ethical knowledge and therefore bears on collective, and not just individual, life.

A New Guild System

Alan Jacobs

What if the more successful political commentators on Substack, or music teachers on YouTube, or masters of the podcast interview, began to teach their craft to others?

No Mere Acquaintances

Richard Hughes Gibson

Renewing your weaks social ties might make your closest ties stronger.

Let Us Now Praise the Periodical Cicadas

Vincent Ercolano

The pulsating song of billions of seventeen-year cicadas.

The Desk

Mike Rose

These were places where I could imagine anything, be anybody. Space travel was new, fresh, a laboratory of possibility.

Why Lecture?

Amy Wright

It’s easy to see how lectures got a bad rap. We have all been subjected to someone who abused the privilege of an audience. 

The Professional-Managerial Novel

Sohale Andrus Mortazavi

Pretending that all workers are the same obscures rather than clarifies the reality of class.

The Problem with Productivity and the Good Work of Love

Alan Jacobs

That means, first, that I have to love my neighbor—my colleague—above my own productivity.

Neither This Nor That

Rhoda Feng

We view the concept of “compromise” from all sorts of oblique angles.

Where Turing Tests Go Wrong

Alan Jacobs

Perhaps computers are so bad at conversation because it is something like prayer.

What Happened to Family Medicine?

Anna Keating

Trust plays an important role in public health.

An Atheist and a Cardinal Walk into a Bar

Joseph Tulloch

Once you see that even those you disagree with most strongly normally have something important to say, debates become dialogues.

How Smart Tech Tried to Solve the Mental Health Crisis and Only Made It Worse

Emma Bedor Hiland

Big data can’t save us from mental distresses and disorders.

What Does Mark Zuckerberg Want from the Metaverse?

The Editors

For Mark Zuckerberg, the metaverse is personally important, a way to achieve an absolute good through connecting people.

Reaching the Adjacent

Alan Jacobs

Are we willing to undertake the long, slow work of persuasion in a time of the politics of personal destruction?

The Uses of Artistic Extravagance

Alan Jacobs

Jean-Luc Godard, like Nietzsche and Wittgenstein and Heidegger, is worth paying attention to even when we think his work is bad

My Name Is Jim

James Conaway

I have been drinking alcohol since I was 15.

Love and Mr. Lincoln

Vincent Ercolano

What if Ann Rutledge had lived, and she and Lincoln had married?

Rancho Rajneesh

James Conaway

No one works in Rajneeshpuram. They “worship.” Worship includes grading roads, plowing fields, pursuing the many lawsuits brought by Bhagwan in Oregon. 

Conversation Pieces

Richard Hughes Gibson

Austen’s sparing use of attributions is also a sign of her confidence in her art. She dispensed with unnecessary scaffolding.

The Egoists and the Altruists

Mark Dunbar

The philosophical divide doesn’t neatly correspond with our political divide. There are egoists on all sides, just as there are altruists.

Living in a WEIRDER World

Brad East

Protestant pagans are everywhere in the post-Christian West.

The Man for Whom Everything Was a Game

Mark Dunbar

John von Neumann’s life ended the way many of those of his intellectual caliber end: in madness.

The Courage to Forget

Firmin DeBrabander

Memories are important because—and when—they are selective, and few.

A Jazz Age Mystery in a Reimagined America

Alan Jacobs

A murder mystery that is also an impressive sociological imaginary.

From the Warp and the Woof, We Rise

Jonathan Coleman

Dick Allen faced racist taunts and boos so numerous and unrelenting that he became the first player in baseball to wear his batting helmet out in the field.