The New Political Economy and Its Culture

Richard Sennett

I look at the practice of democracy not so much as a fixed set of procedural requirements, but as a process that needs to have certain kinds of symbolic markers and consummations that define where people are in relation to each other.

The Commodification of Self

Joseph E. Davis

The shaping and conditioning of our self-understanding by consumption is one form of the commodification of self. 

The Ebb and Flow of Depression

David Healy

Depression’s prevalence can be attributed to the reduced importance of the notion of conflict.

From the Editors

Joseph E. Davis and Jennifer L. Geddes

The rate of change, the kinds of change, and the scope of change taking place today are impossible to understand without also looking at the ways they are affecting societies and how we understand and experience ourselves and others.


Harvie Ferguson

We no longer experience a world, or sense ourselves as the subject of that experience; we are, rather, shrouded and carried along in the moodiness of the present.

From Inwardness to Intravidualism

Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn

The available terms for making better sense of the human predicament are plentiful, but most are currently buried beneath layers of exhausted soil.

The Shifting Experience of Self

Joseph E. Davis

We know very little about what we are doing, why we do it, or how we feel about it.

The Ghost of Kinsey Past

From the Editors

The Kinsey agenda remains alive as key justifications for counting up sexual acts.

On Technology and Humanity

Daniel Doneson

The unscientific foundation of science and technology is in need of wisdom, practical and theoretical, about human ends.

Meaningful Work and Politics

Russell Muirhead

The relationship of money to the romantic ideal of meaningful work is profound and problematic.

The Nagel Flap: Mind and Cosmos

John H. Zammito

The exasperated tone with which evolutionary scientists, philosophers of science, and others on the side of science and philosophy received Nagel’s book was struck early.

Moral Molecules, Modern Selves, and Our “Inner Tribe”

Lenny Moss

Like it or not, the basis of human culture has a great deal to do with the evolution of a socio-affective/social-cognitive infrastructure  that opens up an enormous arc of possibility.

The Apocalyptic Strain in Popular Culture

Paul A. Cantor

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

Happiness as an End in Itself

The Editors

Recent studies suggest that working on happiness may be counterproductive.

It’s Never Too Late

Charles Glenn

Every productive adult in our society needs an education that fully engages the mind and the heart.

The Weight

Erica Holberg

Can dignity bear the weight we want to give it in our political, legal, and moral systems?

Toward a Better Death

William P. Kabasenche

Hoping for a richer, particularistic philosophy of medicine.

Soul Survivor

Dominic Green

We can be sure that, religiosity being constitutional in human and social terms, religion has survived.

Sacred Reading

Chad Wellmon

With the rise of humanism and modern critical scholarly practices in subsequent centuries, texts began to be treated as material objects to be fixed and plumbed for meaning.

Uneasy in Digital Zion

Chad Wellmon and Julia Ticona

Confusion about our digital technologies and their use is not limited to the masters of Silicon Valley.

Lessons from the Ring—Then and Now

Gordon Marino

Coming to terms with our most basic instincts is another thing we learn through boxing.

Liberated as Hell

Brent Cebul

The quest for personal authenticity and autonomy in the face of unreliable communities and institutions has become a defining feature of the modern working class.

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?

The Self-Assembled Career

Carrie M. Lane

The solution to the unraveling of the social contract of employment may not be to prop up the ailing traditional job but, instead, to imagine what other forms work lives might take. 

The Unhappiness of Happiness

William M. Chace

Selfish dreams and the pleasures of individualism never go away.

The Devil We Know

Elizabeth Bruenig

The devil was understood to be present and industrious, and America’s earliest forebears were quick to suss him out by his evil works.

Next-Door Strangers

Marc J. Dunkelman

Within cities themselves, new wealth has been greeted with great fanfare—except by those who see gentrification as a threat to the communities that remained during the decades of white flight.

The Metaphysics of the Hangover

Mark Edmundson

A hangover is about being poisoned, no doubt. The toxins linger in the body and must be expelled, or waited out. We’re sick with a mini-flu and need to get better. But isn’t a hangover about more than physical toxins, at least some of the time?

Animal Spirits

Jackson Lears

The self-made man and the confidence man have existed in dialectical tension down to the present.

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.

From the Editors

Jay Tolson

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

Digital Metaphysics

Leif Weatherby

At the beginning of the digital revolution, there existed a speculative energy that we could use now. It was put at the service not of innovation or disruption but of maintenance and politics, of establishing categories to put our digital world on a better course.

Virtuosos of Idleness

Charlie Tyson

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

The Lost Art of Dying

Thomas Pfau

Death is experienced as the total absence of meaning and, consequently, as something not to be understood but merely to be managed by drawing on medical ingenuity, pharmaceutical resources, and the (increasingly limited) forbearance of insurance companies.

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.

When Work and Meaning Part Ways

Jonathan Malesic

The fact is, work as we know it isn’t worth saving anyway.

Forgiving Heidegger

Nathan Goldman

Uncomfortable though it might be to admit, Heidegger’s thinking is part of the Jewish textual tradition.

After the Vernissage

Greg Jackson

The principal experience of the art I encountered, I found, was not the art itself, but the uncertainty and complexity of my own subjective response.

Fellow Passengers

Mark Rowlands

We need to learn to see animals for what, and maybe who, they really are.

The Ills That Flesh Is Heir to

B.D. McClay

What if our weakness were the best part of us?

The Shifting Experience of Self

Joseph E. Davis

Social and cultural change, from the rise of the “information economy” to changes in family life to the technological mediation of our relationships, is happening all around us.

Minding Our Minds

Joseph E. Davis

Demands on our attention come from the informational environments and shared physical spaces we inhabit. At issue are ethical questions about the conduct of civic life.

Reality Made Me Do It

Martha Bayles

Is the whole world slouching toward a Panopticon of digitally enabled surveillance and control?

Trajectory of a Dream

S.D. Chrostowska

Why do dreams, aside from those that prove uncannily prophetic, not befit our biography?

Hipster Elegies

Greg Jackson

The death and life of the great American hipster offers an alternative history of culture over the last quarter century.

Do Something!

Charlie Tyson

When it comes to doing nothing, style is everything

Homo Saecularis

Jay Tolson

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


Matt Dinan

What does it mean to like something "ironically"?

The Art of Not Concluding

Becca Rothfeld

Can philosophy be worth doing?

Under the Sign of Sontag

Charlie Tyson

Could Sontag the woman ever live up to Sontag the persona?

There Is Simply Too Much More to Think About

Robert L. Kehoe III

To feel and give voice to the “more” of our humanity was Saul Bellow’s vocation.

The Soul in Itself

Nicholas Cannariato

Gustav Theodor Fechner’s soul neither defies naturalism nor depends on revelation.

Our Mindless and Our Damned

Antón Barba-Kay

Vampire and zombie stories are stories of a new mass folklore. But they have dreamt themselves into us for specific reasons.


Vanessa Place

If we really wanted to kill the monster, we would give it what it wants.

Inviting Evil In

Paul A. Cantor

We have met the monsters, and they are us.

Season of the Witch

Becca Rothfeld

Today’s witches are no longer experts in the “occult.” Instead, they rush to aid the downtrodden—and to publish their potion recipes in best-selling how-to guides.

The Odd Couple

Natasha Zaretsky

Both Donald Trump and Oprah Winfrey endorse the same belief: that there are only winners and losers.

Je Regrette Tout

Jonathan Malesic

Moral growth doesn’t just mean looking to the future but reconciling past and present selfhood. It demands regret.

What Freud Got Right

Wilfred M. McClay

We might do a better job of living together if we believed that we are meant to do so.

After Cosmopolitanism

Stuart Whatley

Like globalist, cosmopolitan has become a freighted term.

Social Physics Comes to the Workplace

Joseph E. Davis

Nowhere has the power of disembodied observation become more pervasive than in the workplace.

Into the Whirlpool

Rebecca Lemov

How predictive data put brainwashing on the spin cycle.

Data and the Task of the Humanities

Leif Weatherby

We have automated the society of clues to act on its own divinations, with consequences far beyond the individual.

Closing Time

Clare Coffey

We’re all counting bodies.

If These Walls Could Talk

Matthew D. Rodrigues

On our own sensitivity to the magnetism of objects.

Technosolutionism Isn’t the Fix

Christine Rosen

We shouldn’t assume that the measures we take to combat the coronavirus today are temporary.

Heavenly Geometries

Nathan Goldman

Given the gorgeousness of George Eliot’s own prose, her translation’s eloquence comes as no surprise.

Straightness Studies

Phoebe Maltz Bovy

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

The Strange Undeath of Middlebrow

Phil Christman

Everything that was once considered lowbrow is now triumphant.

Toward an Incarnational Aesthetic

Ashley C. Barnes

On locating the sublimity of art within the world and within history.

Lost Together

Matt Dinan

Hunting after the “hidden life of learning,” Zena Hitz defends learning for its own sake.

Art and the Art of Living

Matthew Mutter

The disagreement between modernism and the contemporary discourse of “self-help” is not about whether literature has “therapeutic” capacities.

A Different Sense of Privilege

Steve Lagerfeld

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


Wilfred M. McClay

The meaning of performative in contemporary parlance is almost exactly the opposite of the word’s original meaning.

The Endless Pursuit of Better

Elizabeth Currid-Halkett

What is clear is that the great divisions in our country rest on our different systems of cultural capital.

Identity Tethering in an Age of Symbolic Politics

Mark Dunbar

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

Awareness Daze

Phoebe Maltz Bovy

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

Masks Off

Charlie Riggs

The pandemic-era “doctrine of masks” contained no playfulness or irony.

Authenticity in Fashion

Richard Thompson Ford

Concern with authenticity seems to be unique to societies marked by conspicuous racial or ethnic hierarchies.

Chasing Phillis Wheatley

Tara A. Bynum

Learning to read for the possibility or the certainty of laughter in the writings of Phillis Wheatley.

How to Be Yourself

Joseph E. Davis

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


B.D. McClay

Every critique of self-care is true. Unfortunately, you still have to take care of yourself.

Between Utopia and Disaster

Malloy Owen

The mass migration of ordinary life into virtual space begins to look like a fantasy of perfect governance.


Trevor Quirk

Now more than ever, time could be irretrievably wasted.

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?

Nietzsche’s Quarrel with History

Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen

As much as we may wish otherwise, history gives us few reasons to believe that its moral arc bends toward justice.


Philip Weinstein

Our identity—insofar as it may be thought of as a fortress—is less adept at resisting life’s various microassaults at 3 am.

Toward a Serious Inquiry into Human Life

Paul Nedelisky

This project is and always has been worthwhile, even if groups of detractors talk themselves out of it from time to time.

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.

Is There Hope for Marriage?

Mary Harrington

Postromantic solidarity provides a basis for real hope.

The Intractable Image

Matthew J. Milliner

The Enlightenment has many exits ramps.

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.

Toward a Leisure Ethic

Stuart Whatley

What if the work-week were fifteen hours a week? What if it were zero?

Sex and Privacy

Lily Meyer

The confused politics of discussing sex in public.

Nothing Succeeds Like Failure

Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn

Costică Brădățan’s argument in praise of failure rests on its ability to make us humble.

The Wages of Estrangement

Charlie Riggs

Tillich suggested another word—and a curious one—to help interpret sin: estrangement.

Enchantments of the One and Zero Mirror

Antón Barba-Kay

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

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?

Nothing Personal

Paul Nedelisky

Was this man Parfit some kind of sociopath?


Wilfred M. McClay

What if the logic of the social media world continues to envelop our discourse?

The Coddling of the American Undergraduate

Rita Koganzon

Today, the “college experience” centered on a residential life that promises to envelope students in a warm, intimate community has hardened into something more totalizing than even the blundering late-twentieth-century project of enforcing political correctness.

The Basis of Everything

Joseph E. Davis

The growing damage to truthfulness reflects something more—not just a personal discrepancy but a deep social discrepancy as well.

Vocation and Moral Imagination

Angel Adams Parham

This is why the stories we surround ourselves with and immerse ourselves in matter.

Immortalizing Words

Ashley C. Barnes

To say that writing novels trained a mind for eternity was a bold professional claim.

Glimpses of Light from Enlightenment’s Prison

Claire Richters

Criticizing modern society because it falls short of normative ideals.

Recombinant Approaches

Leann Davis Alspaugh

Though careful observation comes first, my process involves research: detecting palimpsests in the architecture or observing how people move and inhabit the place.

Brother Rat?

Paul Nedelisky

What happens if we become willing to trade in an understanding of a rich and meaning-laden feature of our nature for, well, something we can share with a rat.

Trigger Alert

Leann Davis Alspaugh

One person’s trigger alert is another person’s censorship.

Harlequin as Hammer

Leann Davis Alspaugh

Cubism’s stylistic hegemony—the dislocated binaries, the tactile surfaces in a two-dimensional work, and the distortions—interferes with what we want to understand about what few clues we can decipher.

Big Easy Ink

Leann Davis Alspaugh

New Orleans, where spectacle and transgression are part of the infrastructure, is the ideal place to conduct completely unscientific research on tattooing.

With Friends Like These

B.D. McClay

Stop me if you think you've heard this one before.

Release and Attack, Speed and Drag

“The world just flipped itself over with hardly any recognition of the tentacles it would sprout”—from an interview with artist Rosamond Casey, whose work appears in our spring issue.

“Putting the Soul to Work”: Reflections on the New Cognitariat

Talbot Brewer

Why should we expect that the inner self waiting to be born corresponds to some paid job or profession?

Introducing Our Spring Issue

Jay Tolson

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

It’s Complicated

Mark Edmundson

What’s up with us humans, us American humans, that we’re committing ourselves more and more to unbending postures?

Lockdown Nostalgia

S.D. Chrostowska

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

Against Projection; For Promise

Alan Jacobs

To make promises, to stand by one words, to be answerable for them, is to open oneself to blame.

How to Cook a Wolf Under Lockdown

Laurel Berger

My quarrel with M.F.K. Fisher was part of a larger quarrel I’ve been having with myself ever since we went to ground in March. 

You liberal you!

Mark Edmundson

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

Still Searching

Richard Hughes Gibson

The Internet is a technical system that has reshaped social roles and relationships in ways that we are at this point far from fully understanding. We are living out the terms of the new social contract.

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.

From Pilgrim to Tourist to...?

Richard Hughes Gibson

One thinks of identity whenever one is not sure of where one belongs.

All Eyes on Me

Alan Jacobs

Sometimes irony is a painful awareness of our own absurdity.

The Desk

Mike Rose

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

Who Killed Essentialism?

Charlie Riggs

We seem to be unable to do without our essences.

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. 

Between Utopia and Disaster

Malloy Owen

The modern state is founded on a dream—the dream of perfect knowledge that secures perfect power.

Where Turing Tests Go Wrong

Alan Jacobs

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

The Coming Clarifications

Alan Jacobs

We’ll have to confront the chasm between our self-conception and our actual behavior

You Are Not a Server

Alan Jacobs

We have been trained by social media to use our brains as servers.

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.

Authenticity’s Imperative

Emily G. Wenneborg

We have here two very different approaches to spiritual authenticity.

Saving Face

Leann Davis Alspaugh

The face we present to the world is the primary signifier we possess.

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.

The Banality of Psychedelics

Stephen Akey

The central truths revealed to me by psilocybin were all the things my mother tried to teach me.

The Mechanical Imagination

John Fechtel

In the output of the AI generated image, the technique is there but the techne is not.

David Hume’s Guide to Social Media

Alan Jacobs

The cultivation of taste, in morals as well as in art, is neither snobbish nor elitist.

In a Hotel

Cameron Carr

There is a familiar feeling here: existential dread, impending doom, a light dose of despair.

The Way Your Mind Ends

Alan Jacobs

The good cop, bad cop routine of the digital age.

The Courage to Forget

Firmin DeBrabander

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

Facing It

Evan Gurney

Reading words is hard enough for me without having to read faces too.