Category: Ideas and Reflections

On Making A Difference

Every man who thinks and writes will begin to harbor hopes of making a difference, and even, perhaps, begin to believe he is seeing evidence of his making a difference. In an age without true teachers, it may even be necessary for a man to experience such hopes, as an impetus to forge ahead with his thought against the taste and climate of...

Principles of Writing

A thoughtful Korean student who frequently reads my writing, and to whom I recently mentioned my essay about the disappearing craft of handwriting, “Are We Solving the Mystery of Atlantis?” sends me the following thought: “I want to understand the writing on your website. It’s not easy, but I like that it’s not what everyone can get easily.” To which I reply as...

The Invisible Hand, Without Shame

That cynical men will exploit a human problem for their own petty advantage, without concern for ultimate outcomes beyond their own immediate gain, is obvious. This cynicism explains most of what is called “foreign policy,” most of what is called “medicine,” most of what is called “education,” most of what is called “entertainment,” and most of what is called “lawmaking.” But none of...

On Shrinking

The more uniform and repetitive the conversation, the more any alternative or outlying opinion sounds like irrational extremism.

The more everyone is encouraged to speak, the less most people have to say — and the less audible above the din is anyone who does have something to say….

On Privacy and Modernity

The desire to be heard vs. the desire to be understood.— Heraclitus spoke for all time: “One is worth ten thousand to me if he be the best.” “‘Like a dog,’ he said, it was as if the shame of it should outlive him.” Kafka thereby describes the condition of every one of us in the very late modern world, hounded, herded, and...

A Few Certainties

You will not achieve much that you set out to accomplish in your life — but you will correct your intentions retroactively in order to persuade yourself that you did. The best things you do will never be the things you do for money, attention, or other tangible forms of reward. On the contrary, the best things you do will most often be...

Two Rules of Thumb Regarding the Aims of Government

Rulers, like the rest of us, always do what they believe is best for themselves. They may also, as per their actual mandate, do what is best for the society and citizenry; but this latter motive is not the norm, and is entirely contingent on their judgment, in any given situation, that what is best for the society and citizenry happens to coincide...

Higher Education

The primary aims of the university, from its medieval foundations until about fifty years ago, were to prod a young person into doubting his youthful certainties, to shake the foundations of his most cherished and comforting assumptions, to push him into a vast, confusing marketplace of ideas and sensibilities, where…

Answering the Gun Control Crowd’s Rhetorical Questions

When, in the aftermath of every well-publicized mass shooting, emotional or opportunistic people say things such as, “How many children have to die before you are willing to do something about guns?” they are not really engaging in dialogue, trying to understand alternative points of view, or even seeking any reply at all. They are merely trying to score rhetorical points against “the...

Perspective on Guns and Freedom

I just did a quick online search, and found exactly what I expected to find. In Ukraine, gun ownership is not regulated by statute, the country enjoys high rates of private gun ownership, and “Citizens are permitted to own non-fully automatic rifles and shotguns as long as they are stored properly when not in use.”  Meanwhile, Ukraine is the only country on the...