Category Archives: Books

Notes and commentary on Karl Polanyi’s The Great Transformation (Part 1)

We all have those books – the ones we know are good for us but have remained on the bookshelf for years (or decades). Thankfully, Karl Polanyi’s The Great Transformation is now one of those books that I can return to my bookshelf with the satisfaction that I’ve finally read one of the masterpieces  of economic […]

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Examining Paul Veyne’s Foucault: Chp. 7

After equivocating over the necessity of an Objective stance, Veyne returns to a more consistently skeptical position in “The Physical and Human Sciences: Foucault’s Programme”, the seventh chapter of Foucault: His Thought, His Character. The central question of this chapter is the degree to which Foucault is epistemologically confident in his analysis of discourse, an […]

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Albert O. Hirschman’s The Passions and the Interests

Albert O. Hirschman’s The Passions and the Interests: Political Arguments for Capitalism Before Its Triumph is an essay as insightful and thought-provoking as it is elegant.  Hirschman’s Passions is a timeless classic that gracefully explores the intersection of economic, social and political thought, and provides a perceptive understanding of the Western world’s intellectual accommodation and […]

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A Review of Tom Bennett’s Teacher Proof

[D]on’t let the fashions crush you. And so many of them are so, so very bad. The thrill of innovation, the desire for simple answers, and the mistaken belief that educational research will shine a guiding light to a smarter, more efficient system, has proven the undoing of us, and will undermine us further if […]

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A Review of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road

I have a rather equivocal opinion of  The Road. On one hand, it’s a beautifully phrased novel, full of powerful images and rich language. On the other hand, the plot is rather pedestrian, and the author’s defiance of writing conventions is tiresome. There’s no doubt that McCarthy is a gifted writer. Many passages are profoundly beautiful […]

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Examining Paul Veyne’s Foucault: Chp. 6

I’ll be honest – I am no expert on Heidegger. So I’ll have to take Veyne’s account of Heidegger, entitled “Notwithstanding Heidegger, Man Is An Intelligent Animal” at relatively face value.  Veyne’s central aim in this chapter is to distinguish Foucault from Heidegger. Though Veyne won’t admit this, many have lumped Foucault in with the […]

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Examining Paul Veyne’s Foucault: Chp. 5

Chp. 5 of Paul Veyne’s Foucault, entitled “Universalism, Universals, Epigenesis”, is another short chapter, and a partial detour away from his analysis of Foucault. The main purpose of the chapter is to demonstrate that Christianity, despite its universalist aspirations and pretensions, is a discursive formation riven with scattered intentionalities, unpredictable origins, and unintended alterations. This chapter […]

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Examining Paul Veyne’s Foucault: Chp. 4

  Chp. 4 of Paul Veyne’s Foucault, entitled “Archaeology”, is a curious part of the book. This short section extends Veyne’s epistemological discussion of the previous chapter, but does not really examine “archaeology” as a method. Also, Foucault’s somewhat vague differentiation between “archaeology” and “genealogy” is mirrored by Veyne’s implicit conflation of the two concepts, […]

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Morris Berman: “Why America Failed: The Roots of Imperial Decline”

One of the most influential and inspirational teachers I’ve ever known is the cultural historian, Morris Berman, who taught at the University of Victoria back in the 1980’s. Morris’s view of the world is not for the faint of heart – it’s uncompromising and pessimistic. Nevertheless, he defends his thesis of America’s “negative identity” with […]

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Examining Paul Veyne’s Foucault: Chp. 3

Foucault’s epistemological perspective is one of the more intriguing aspects of his oeuvre. Foucault never really examined his theory of knowledge in any consistent and thorough-going manner, but he offered many (sometimes cryptic) observations and remarks that have encouraged others to piece together his understanding of how we know and understand the world. Paul Veyne […]

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