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FeatureReviews

We Can Remember It for You Wholesale

A Review of Adam Greenfield’s Radical Technologies: The Design of Everyday Life


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Street art celebrating the real-life Louise Michel © Frédéric BISSON |Flickr
EducationEssaysFeaturePower and CrisisScienceTheory & Practice

What Could History Have Been?

Imagining new approaches to the humanities

“What could history have been?” The question asks how events might have turned out otherwise, if only X had happened instead of Y. What if JFK hadn’t been assassinated? What if Hitler had? The official term for this kind of what-if thinking is “counterfactual history,” and it covers anything from an academic’s earnest attempt to imagine the US economy without railroads to Quentin Tarantino’s WWII redux Jewish revenge fantasy, Inglourious Basterds — anything, that is, which imagines history as it did not happen.

But the same question can be the spur to a different kind of speculation.“History,” after all, has two meanings. It’s not just the sum of past events, but the discipline that studies them. …

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EssaysLiberal Democracy in QuestionPower and CrisisTheory & Practice

The Ethics and Politics of Responsible Belief

On liberalism and faith

Prior to his death in June 2007, Richard Rorty turned his attention to religious belief and its place in the public sphere. Rorty had long been presenting himself as the “village atheist” in the domains both of academic philosophy and public intellectualism: he viewed religious belief as the most pervasive form of false metaphysical comfort, and as a political “conversation stopper” that is ineluctably at odds with the sort of foundationless liberal democracy he championed. But late in his career …

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