The Scholar’s Vocation

In 1908, the first study of Germany’s ‘next generation of academics’ was published, written by the German economist Franz Eulenburg. After 200 pages of line graphs and tables, he concluded that they were neither young nor going anywhere. Although some who taught in Germany’s world-renowned universities enjoyed the freedom presumed to accompany an academic life, […]

Read more

Christian Humanism Is a Wooden Iron

In the brief respite between total wars, most Christian intellectuals in Europe––from Catholics such as Jacques Maritain and Simon Weil to Protestants such as W. H. Auden and C. S. Lewis––professed an allegiance to humanism, as did an array of confessing and non-confessing Communists, Dada-ists, Futurists, liberals, and Marxists. But beyond a general commitment to the human, they tended to agree […]

Read more

Introduction to “Charisma & Disenchantment: The Vocation Lectures”

Paul Reitter and I recently edited a new translation of Max Weber’s two vocation lectures by Damion Searls. NYRB Classics published them this past February. As part of this volume, Paul and I also wrote an introduction: In the summer of 1917, a group of university students in Munich invited Max Weber to launch a […]

Read more

Weber and the Crisis of the Humanities

In the summer of 1917, a group of university students in Munich invited Max Weber to launch a lecture series on “intellectual work as a vocation” with a talk about the scholar’s work. He was, in a way, an odd choice. Fifty-three at the time, Weber hadn’t held an academic job in over a decade. […]

Read more

Intersecting Disciplines

“Chad Wellmon has done a fair bit of dreaming and analyzing over the past four years. Blame it on the fact that he professes an equal love of math and poetry, of science and philosophy. Although he’s now an associate professor of German, Wellmon always assumed he’d grow up to be a physicist. Most recently, […]

Read more

Detecting Footnotes in 32 Million Pages

In “An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment?”, the eighteenth-century German philosopher Immanuel Kant responded to a big question buried in a little footnote. But you wouldn’t know it, because contemporary editions of Kant’s famous essay no longer reproduce the parenthetical directive that Kant’s original essay printed right under the essay’s title in the […]

Read more

THE YEAR OF WHOSE LORD?

Before he philosophized with a hammer, Friedrich Nietzsche counted Greek metre. In 1868, the University of Basel appointed, or “called” as German academics put it to this day, the twenty-four-year-old Leipzig student a professor in ancient Greek language and literature. For several years, Nietzsche played the professional philologist, publishing erudite articles, arguing with fellow scholars […]

Read more

Interview with “Half Hour of Heterodoxy”

In late December, Chris Martin interviewed me for “Half Hour of Heterodoxy,” the podcast run by the Heterodox Academy. In 2016, Jonathan Haidt gave a talk at a number of American universities in which he made the provocative argument that universities must choose either truth or social justice as their primary motive for operating. He argued that […]

Read more

Permanent Crisis: The Humanities in a Disenchanted Age

Paul Reitter and I are finishing up our new book Permanent Crisis: The Humanities in a Disenchanted Age. Last month (November 2018), I turned my attention to revision and the key elements of the larger story we’re telling. In a talk I gave at the University of Richmond, I made an initial stab at something like an […]

Read more