Search Results for: wordsworth

Ultimate Meaning: Pope Benedict and William Wordsworth Have a Theory

I don’t think much of the pedophile shielding (and enabling) Pope Benedict, but in his Easter homily this year he laid out the atheist v. theist divide with succinct eloquence:  If man were merely a random product of evolution in some place on the … Continue reading

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Our Daily Stanza: The First Six Lines of William Wordsworth’s “I wandered lonely as a Cloud” (1807)

Today’s lines of poetry come from William Wordworth’s “I wandered lonely as a Cloud” (1807), and they make up the poem’s first stanza: I wandered lonely as a Cloud That floats on high o’er Vales and Hills, When all at … Continue reading

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Lines of Poetry Dedicated to John McCain: The Beginning of William Wordsworth’s “Intimations of Immortality”

In the first 2008 presidential debate between Barack Obama and John McCain, McCain started the debate by announcing, without the least trace of Republican irony, and with deep regret and soberness (as if he were about to well up with tears), … Continue reading

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“Nuns Fret Not”: A Sonnet by William Wordsworth (1807)

Nuns fret not at their convent’s narrow room; And hermits are contented with their cells; And students with their pensive citadels; Maids at the wheel, the weaver at his loom, Sit blithe and happy; bees that soar for bloom, High … Continue reading

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A Mini-Course In Critical Thinking For Writers. Concept 1.15: Know Where You’re Entering The Intellectual Conversation

I’ve decided to attempt the first draft of a college-level textbook, writing it directly into my blog, bit by bit. Feedback and recommendations in the thread comments are welcome, either encouraging or critical. The first chapter is a mini-course in … Continue reading

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Jim Jones, Critical Thinking, and the Mass Suicide of the Mind

The problem. 2018 will mark the 40th anniversary of the collective suicide of the Jim Jones cult. In 1978, over 900 people left California, set up a commune in Guyana in South America, and ultimately died there together, notoriously drinking … Continue reading

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David Foster Wallace’s “This is Water” 2005 Kenyon College Commencement Address

Wallace is totally the Buddha in this speech, preaching attentional choice, vigilance in looking, and imaginative awareness. It’s a shame he hit bottom in 2008 and, in the grip of a severe depression (a recurrent scourge that plagued his life), … Continue reading

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Thinking Critically about Critical Theory

First thought. The broad takeaway insight of postmodernism is the following: there is always more in a text than the author knows or intends. This goes rather nicely with Nietzsche’s claim that “there are no facts, only interpretations.” But before … Continue reading

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Does Critical Theory Kill Aristotle or Does Aristotle Kill Critical Theory?

Within the humanities, contemporary critical theorizing typically entails left leaning political commitments accompanied by some line of attack or qualification on Aristotle’s rhetorical triangle—his idea that every communicative act necessarily requires three things: an author or speaker (Greek: ethos), a … Continue reading

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Zeev Sternhell’s Question: What Is To Be Done About The Anglo-French Enlightenment?

In The Anti-Enlightenment Tradition (Yale 2009), Israeli historian Zeev Sternhell (b. 1935) sees a fault line running through much of contemporary global culture: what to do about the Anglo-French Enlightenment. By the Anglo-French Enlightenment, he means the intellectual movement initiated in 17th … Continue reading

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Ask an Interesting Question, Get an Interesting Answer. Stephen Knapp and Walter Benn Michael’s Anti-Critical Theory Question: What Happens if We Don’t Separate Meaning from Intention and Knowledge from Interpretation? Will This Kill Critical Theory?

Within the humanities, contemporary critical theorizing typically entails political commitments, predominantly from the left, accompanied by some line of attack or qualification on Aristotle’s rhetorical triangle (his idea that every communicative act necessarily requires a speaker or author, a message, … Continue reading

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Jerry Coyne, Dissectheist

At Uncommon Descent there is a contest going on, seeking from readers some new bit of coinage for accurately designating the Jerry Coyne-style atheist (the atheist obsessed with deconstructing and combating religion). I believe I’ve thought of the right word, and submitted it to … Continue reading

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Will Computers Ever Really Be Conscious and Intelligent?

Philosopher John Searle thinks not. _____ And literary critic Stanley Fish, writing in the New York Times, appears to agree with Searle, offering the following as a key distinction between himself and a computer: [I]ts procedures do not track my practice. I … Continue reading

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Are Science and Poetry Compatable? Do We Want Them To Be?

It’s sometimes suggested that science and poetry are two ways of looking at the world that really don’t have many points of contact. But, curiously, below is one of the world’s greatest living literary critics, Helen Vendler of Harvard, explaining how her early training … Continue reading

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Three Ohio Bucks Locked in Life—and Death. Why Is This Poetic?

A distressing scene to contemplate was recently recounted (with photos) in Field & Stream: [T]hree Ohio bucks somehow locked antlers while battling near a small creek. When one deer slid into a shallow pool, it sealed the fate for all three, … Continue reading

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Close Literary Reading 101: Thinking about How Stories End

I thought it might be fun (at least for me) to lay out, in a series of short blog posts, some of the basic terms and ideas that I present to my students when talking about the “close reading” of literary texts. … Continue reading

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A God Delusion: Josh Timonen v. Richard Dawkins

One sad aspect of the lawsuit recently filed against Josh Timonen by Richard Dawkins is the way that it has inadvertently played out the atheist script generally: reduce an ontological mystery (a mystery of being) to a mere problem or function for rational … Continue reading

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Are We the Low Energy State of a Hidden Symmetry?

Who are we? Where are we? Here’s my current answer. I think I can put it in a four line stanza. And I suppose it’s what I might tell my children the next time one of them asks me: At turns beautiful … Continue reading

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Zeev Sternhell on The Enlightenment and Its Enemies

One of the books that I’ve been dropping in and out of this past month is Zeev Sternhell’s The Anti-Enlightenment Tradition (Yale 2009). Sternhell’s book is about 450 pages long, and I’m only 150 pages in, but I can already say that it is … Continue reading

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Catholic Priest, Father James Martin, fails to see the beauty of a fast moving woman in New York City

Catholic priest, James Martin, offers this incident as illustration of the richness of (his) existence that our plugged-in culture is bypassing: Not long ago, I was walking through a park in New York City. Racing across Union Square to an … Continue reading

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