Interlude: In Defense of Books

Three years ago I set out to read one book from every aisle in the stacks of Cornell University’s Olin library. 60 books later (and nearly halfway through the third floor) I am certain that I would not have requested or sought out more than two of those books from other libraries, but I am…

Power and Identity

Project status update: I realized I’ve been doing this reading project for over three years; I’ve read 60 books, done write-ups on 13, and am over halfway through one side of one floor of the library. At this rate it would take me another 40 years. Time to pick up the pace. Yvonne Chireau’s Black…

Wars of Religion

Reading about religion can be incredibly inspiring and can also break your heart. The longing for a better world and self-sacrifice that people feel for the sake of goals beyond personal self-interest move me deeply, and yet historical accident, lust for power, or misunderstanding can equally lead to tragedy. I lost two grandparents in the…

Individualism and Community

I really enjoy being a part of a University community. Even though I’m staff and not faculty, I like the sense of shared purpose, identity, and value of knowledge that it implies and conveys. At the same time, I often want to think/exist as an individual, and believe that mindlessly accepting communal ideals is an…

What do you believe?

I’d been curious about Augustine’s Confessions since reading the argument for Augustine as the first self-aware/introspective author laid out in “How the Irish Saved Civilization.” He is self-reflective, but also so focused on identifying orthodoxy (and refuting paganism/other heresies) that even his autobiographical elements feel driven by an argument or agenda. It seems to me…

Mixture and Distinction in Metaphysics

For several hundred (if not thousand) years society’s most probing and thoughtful, truth-seeking minds studied and wrote about religion. In an era where literacy was scarce, I greatly appreciate the time, effort, and rigorous application of logic to difficult paradoxes or questions posed by theology. At the same time, there’s a real risk that debating…

Exceptionalism and Principles

In my day job advising MBAs pursuing consulting careers, I give a lot of students practice interviews, especially case interviews. A typical case interview presents a hypothetical business/client problem and asks the student to lay out a structured approach to the problem. So far, so good. At some point in some cases, however, the student…