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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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Approaching peak skepticism

By John G. Stackhouse, Jr.
We are near, it seems, “peak skepticism.” We all know that the sweetest character in the movie we’re watching will turn out to be the serial killer. We all know that the stranger in the good suit and the great hair is up to something sinister.

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So you think you know Jane Austen?

How much do you know about the works of one of our best-loved classic authors? What really motivates the characters, and what is going on beneath the surface of the story? Using So You Think You Know Jane Austen? A Literary Quizbook by John Sutherland and Deirdre La Faye, we’ve selected twelve questions covering all six of Austen’s major novels for you to pit your wits against.

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Certainty and authority

By John G. Stackhouse, Jr.
We might have reason to doubt some or even much of our day-to-day apprehension of things. We’re all in a hurry, all having to learn and discern and decide on the fly. Surely in the realm of medical research, however, the most important research we conduct, expert knowledge is sure and sound?

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The butterfly and the matrix

By John G. Stackhouse, Jr.
Right now I’m bored. And I can’t be wrong about that. I truly am yawningly, dazedly bored. And epistemologists assure me that about my mental states, such as this present one of stupefaction, I can claim certainty.

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Summer reading recommendations

Whether your version of the perfect summer read gives your cerebrum a much needed breather or demands contemplation you don’t have time for in everyday life, here is a mix of both to consider for your summer reading this year.

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Fútbol and faith: the World Cup and Ramadan

By Melanie Trexley

As 16 teams reached the knockout stage of the World Cup, the blasts of canons sounded to signal the beginning of Ramadan, the holy month in the Islamic lunar calendar in which Muslims are to abstain from food, drink, smoking, sex, and gossiping from sunrise to sunset.

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Rebooting Philosophy

By Luciano Floridi
Philosophy is a bit like a computer with a memory leak. It starts well, dealing with significant and serious issues that matter to anyone. Yet, in time, its very success slows it down. Philosophy begins to care more about philosophers’ questions than philosophical ones, consuming increasing amount of intellectual attention.

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Mormon women “bloggers”: a long tradition

By Paula Kelly Harline
Mormon bloggers have been in the news lately, with two bloggers recently being excommunicated from the church. It was Ordain Women founder Kate Kelly’s call-to-action writings, meant to recruit Mormon women to her cause, that recently led to her excommunication from the Mormon Church.

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Practical wisdom and why we need to value it

By David Blockley
Aristotle saw five ways of arriving at the truth – he called them art (ars, techne), science (episteme), intuition (nous), wisdom (sophia) and practical wisdom – sometimes translated as prudence (phronesis). Ars or techne (from which we get the words art and technical, technique and technology) was concerned with production but not action. Art had a productive state, truly reasoned, with an end (i.e. a product) other than itself (e.g. a building).

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John Calvin’s prophetic calling and the memory

By Jon Balserak
What is the self, and how is it formed? In the case of Calvin, we might be given a glimpse at an answer if we consider the context from which he came. Calvin was part of a society that was still profoundly memorial in character; he lived with the vestiges of that medieval culture that’s discussed so brilliantly by Frances Yates and Mary Carruthers — a society which committed classical and Christian corpora to remembrance and whose self-identity was, in a large part, shaped and informed by memory.

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Five questions for Rebecca Mead

On Tuesday 8 July 2014, Rebecca Mead, author of My Life in Middlemarch, leads a discussion on George Eliot’s Middlemarch. Each summer, Oxford University Press USA and Bryant Park in New York City partner for their summer reading series Word for Word Book Club.

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Theodicy in dialogue

By Mark S. M. Scott
Imagine for a moment that through a special act of divine providence God assembled the greatest theologians throughout time to sit around a theological round table to solve the problem of evil. You would have many of the usual suspects: Athanasius, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Karl Barth. You would have the mystics: Gregory of Nyssa, Julian of Norwich, Catherine of Sienna, Teresa of Ávila, and Thomas Merton.

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Rhetorical fireworks for the Fourth of July

By Russ Castronovo
Ever since 4 July 1777 when citizens of Philadelphia celebrated the first anniversary of American independence with a fireworks display, the “rockets’ red glare” has lent a military tinge to this national holiday. But the explosive aspect of the patriots’ resistance was the incendiary propaganda that they spread across the thirteen colonies.

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Gods and men in The Iliad and The Odyssey

The Ancient Greek gods are all the things that humans are — full of emotions, constantly making mistakes — with the exception of their immortality. It makes their lives and actions often comical or superficial — a sharp contrast to the humans that are often at their mercy. The gods can show their favor, or displeasure; men and women are puppets in their world.

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A Canada Day reading list

By Tara Kahn
This Canada Day, we thought this would be an excellent opportunity to look back on some historical and fundamental books from the Canadian literary corpus.

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