The Limits of Expertise
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The Limits of Expertise

Americans don’t trust their institutions. According to a recent Gallup poll, only 32 percent of Americans expressed a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in fourteen key institutions. Americans doubt whether their basic institutions––from organized religion and the news media to Congress and the medical system––are providing them with the knowledge and expertise … Continue reading

The Invention of Philosophy
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The Invention of Philosophy

In the Spring 2017 issue of the Hedgehog Review, I reviewed Justin E.H. Smith’s The Philosopher: A History in Six Types (Princeton 2016). Here is a PDF of the review. In the preface to the second edition of the Critique of Pure Reason, Immanuel Kant, the eighteenth-century German philosopher who published his magnum opus at the age of fifty after ten years of publishing … Continue reading

Whatever Happened to General Education?
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Whatever Happened to General Education?

Finance, football, and fraternities—not philosophy or physics—are the pillars of the modern American university. It’s been that way for more than a century: In On the Higher Learning in America(1918)—published fewer than forty years after the founding of Johns Hopkins, America’s first research university—Thorstein Veblen, the early-twentieth-century American sociologist who coined the term “conspicuous consumption,” dismissed … Continue reading

Inequality and Academic Publishing
Projects

Inequality and Academic Publishing

Andrew Piper and I recently completed the first essay in a larger project on knowledge norms and publishing. “Publication, Power, Patronage: On Inequality and Academic Publishing” will be out soon in Critical Inquiry. Our hope for the broader project is to help mitigate the profound ignorance that we scholars, ourselves included, have of our own institutions. We are … Continue reading