July 25, 2004 |
As prominent conservatives -- diplomats, retired generals, commentators such as George Will -- are breaking with the Bush administration over the military, constitutional and budgetary consequences of its foreign policy, two of them have published a solemn remonstrance assailing President Bush's capitulation to a "small group of neoconservative policy makers," whom they accuse of driving our national misadventures in regime change and nation-building even at the price of endless war and the
March 17, 2002 |
Artists and scientists, Robert Oppenheimer wrote, "live always at the 'edge of mystery'--the boundary of the unknown" and for no group of scientific practitioners is this characterization more apposite than cosmologists, they who dare to envision the universal whole. Few areas of inquiry bring human minds so constantly into contact with the event horizons of current understanding, so posing the greatest challenges.
December 10, 2000 |
Language kindles a light in the mind that frees us from inarticulate isolation yet cages us within the words whose meaning we can grasp. "The limits of my language are the limits of my mind," said Ludwig Wittgenstein. "All I know is what I have words for." Yet even as it opens the mind, language defines its unbridgeable borders, erecting barricades of repression and bigotry.
January 9, 2000 |
In 1944, with the battle for Europe still raging and the Final Solution at its height, the International Committee of the Red Cross was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. It was the second of the three times in the Geneva-based committee's history that it would receive the honor. Unfortunately, on this occasion at least, the prize was misaddressed.
May 31, 1998 |
In 1987, Richard Ellmann's biography of Oscar Wilde marked a turn in that "tide in the affairs of men" which these subsequent books, among so many other studies, anthologies, entertainments and exorcisms, variously swell--nor does such a tide give any indication of being stemmed, though frequently redirected.
March 15, 1998 |
Questions about the mind, brain and consciousness engage us like no others--as simple as any but not simple-minded, the preoccupation of philosophers and scientists since Plato. Does a pinprick feel the same to you and me? Do we mean the same thing when we talk about the color gray-green? Or about Picasso's gray-green portrait of Dora Maar? If we could wire up your brain in a vat, would you retain your personality, your experiences, your consciousness?