Philosophy © Dakine Kane | Flickr
FeatureReviews

Pragmatism’s Promise

One of the many definitions of “dialectic” is “a method of examining and discussing opposing ideas in order to discover the truth”; another is “discussion and reasoning by dialogue as a method of intellectual investigation.”  On either definition, Richard J. Bernstein is indisputably the most proficient and prolific dialectician working in philosophy today. His style has centered on the close reading of important figures who at first glance have little to do with  …

READ MORE →
Edmund Burke, bastion of authority © Mike Rawlins | Flickr
EssaysLiberal Democracy in QuestionTheory & Practice

You Say You Don’t Want a Revolution

Conservatism, radicalism, and democracy in 2015

The New York Times’ David Brooks has long been the conservative that liberals hate to love (or at least like). It is easy to see why. Brooks accepts the possibility of reasonable disagreement with the likes of liberals such as Mark Shields or E.J. Dionne, is rarely shrill, and seems to acknowledge the idea that argument and civil discourse are important aspects of a pundit’s professional life on any point of the spectrum. He is, if nothing else, “genteel” …

READ MORE →
Donald Trump speaks at CPAC, Washington, DC, 2011 © Gage Skidmore | Flickr
EssaysLiberal Democracy in QuestionMedia & Publics

Diagnosing American Politics

What the rise of Trump says about American democracy

I have a morbid fascination with Carl Schmitt. Morbid, because he manages to condense, in his political theory and philosophy of law, pretty much everything I find repulsive about the radical right. His pessimism about “human nature” is raw and simplistic and, unlike Hobbes, whom he superficially resembles, he is uninterested in clamping down on sin-infected humanity by way of a social contract that invests all sovereignty in an …

READ MORE →
Iraqi insurgents © Menendj | Wikimedia Commons
EssaysLiberal Democracy in QuestionThe Left

Religion, Essentialism, and Violence

Cherry picking on the left

There has been a contentious theme circulating around the Left-wing blogosphere for quite a while now, sharpened by the atrocities of ISIS and the massacre at Charlie Hebdo. The theme usually begins with the accusation that Islam as a religion is soft on violence, a consequence of its vehement rejection of Enlightenment values. The argument continues: while Islam may not be unique among monotheisms in its endorsement of violent struggle against heretics, infidels, and Western liberal-democratic hegemony, the idea of jihad reveals that it is uniquely serious about it. …

READ MORE →
Cover art from The Later Works of John Dewey by John Dewey, edited by Jo Ann Boydston © Southern Illinois University Press | Amazon.com
CapitalismEssaysThe Left

John Dewey’s Encounter with Leon Trotsky

The 1930s was one of the one eventful and productive decades in Dewey’s life. He published more than a half dozen books including Logic: The Theory of Inquiry. It was during this decade that he sharpened his understanding of radical democracy and a renascent liberalism. He interrupted his scholarly work to travel to Mexico as the Chair of the Trotsky Commission — or to give its full title, “The Commission of Inquiry into the Charges Made against Leon Trotsky in the Moscow Trials.” …

READ MORE →