Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Some reading suggestions
In the spirit of procrastinating deep thoughts I would prefer to be having instead, I thought I'd share a few interesting reads from TNR that I found quite thoughtful. First, check out Robert Kagan's challenge to the "America is in decline" meme that has spread the last few years. If the article's good enough for POTUS, it's good enough for you. Second, friends of Prawfs, Don Braman and David Fontana, have a very cool piece summarizing their recent findings that Americans are pretty indifferent to institutional allocations of decisionmaking. Penultimately, if you've been wondering about whether you should wade into that 2 volume set of Parfit's latest reflections, "On What Matters," you might want to read Philip Kitcher's review. It's both fair-minded and critical, so even if he's not right, it's still helpful.
Last, the latest issue of TNR has a brief diarist essay by Leon Wieseltier. The essay is notable for its intensely sharp and justly imposed critique of the latest excesses of ultra-religious forces within Israeli society, and the politicians who fail to adequately contain and castigate those forces. Those of us who love Israel, for all its warts, weep when forced to recognize that the theologico-political sources of internal chaos are as maddening as the external ones with Iran, the Palestinians, et al. The political drama of recent months makes that very clear, even if the current challenges do not yet amount to an existential threat to the grand project of a liberal zionism. But put that fear of overwrought hand-wringing aside, for what we have is, at the very least, an excruciating irritant. And Leon is right to call our brethren to task for baseless hatred, foolish nonsense, and spiritual corruption, and to do so sternly and unequivocally.
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