When Is It Right (or Wrong) to Rebel?

Considering Syria Through the Writings of Thomas Hobbes Shows the Promise and Perils of Revolution

When protesters confronted the autocrats of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Syria early in 2011, many liberally minded people around the world hailed this Arab Spring as a moment of great hope, comparable to the velvet revolutions of 1989 in Eastern Europe. But the picture soon got complicated. Whereas the Tunisian and Egyptian regimes capitulated relatively peacefully, only the Tunisians secured democracy, as the Egyptian revolution was subsequently overturned.

Libya and Syria both descended into civil war. In Libya, the outcome has so far been an unstable political vacuum. In Syria, the …

Is Forgiveness the Basis of a Healthy Democracy?

An Iranian Philosopher Posits That Only Absolving Others of Blame Can Open Dialogue and Rebuild Decency

Why do we have such difficulty thinking about forgiveness? Read the news on any day and you’ll find stories of war, injustices present and past, and attacks on democracy. It’s …

The Austrian Philosopher Who Showed That Words Can Spark Humanism—or Barbarism

Ludwig Wittgenstein Saw Language as a "Game," and Whoever Makes the Rules Holds the Power

Ludwig Wittgenstein, the Austrian-British philosopher and logician, famously coined the term “language-game”—a term meant, as he writes in his Philosophical Investigations (1953), “to bring into prominence the fact that the …

Our Real “Existential Crisis” Is Bigger Than Trump’s Presidency

Philosophically Speaking, How Do We Live Free, Authentic Lives in a World Without Meaning?

Apparently, these are existential times. During the weeks leading up to last year’s presidential election, The New York Times columnist Charles Blow announced that then-candidate Donald Trump was “America’s existential …

Why Extreme Moderation Is the Vital Alternative to Political Polarization

Theorist Tzvetan Todorov's Passionate Pluralism Is More Relevant Now Than Ever

Last month, the Bulgarian-French intellectual Tzvetan Todorov died. A scholar on the history of thought, his writings influenced fields as disparate as anthropology, literary criticism, and history. His death was, …