Category Archives: Politics (theory, History, Now)

New C4SS Article on Dialectics

Today, Center for a Stateless Society published my newest essay: “It Really Does Depend on the Context: Ben Burgis and the Analytical Marxist Critique of Dialectics.” As I write:

The title of this essay recalls the Congressional hearing that took place on December 5, 2023, in which Claudine Gay, the president of Harvard University, seemed to dodge difficult questions by uttering the phrase “it depends on the context.” The phrase immediately became meme-able, even the butt of an opening “Saturday Night Live” skit. New York Times journalist A. O. Scott (2024) wrote that more than any other word, be it “plagiarism” or “genocide,” “Gay’s fate was sealed by a single word. … The word was ‘context’.” Scott’s larger point, of course, was that throughout the heated controversy, there was, in fact, a “rigorous avoidance of context” — the context of election-year politics, unending global conflicts, the crises in higher education, and so forth.

My purpose in this essay is not to relitigate that Congressional hearing. Rather, it is to focus on the method for which keeping context is primary. That method — dialectics — addresses societal problems by exploring their many overlapping and shifting contexts in a dynamic world.

Check out the “full context” here!

For discussion, see here, here, and here.

Grammy Awards 2024

The Grammy Awards show is always a mixed bag. So many of the Awards are presented in the pre-show that you’d better have access to Wikipedia to get the full list of nominees and winners—though the Grammy site was streaming the pre-show on its platform. I was happy to see that among those pre-show winners was composer John Williams. Yesterday, I highlighted “Helena’s Theme” in the first of a multiday tribute to the maestro, part of my 20th Annual Film Music February Festival. And last night, he took home his twenty-sixth Grammy Award for that selection, which won for “Best Instrumental Composition”.

Long gone are the days when the show would feature classical or jazz artists to exhibit the breadth of the categories honored. But still, there were many entertaining performances—from Dua Lipa’s energetic opening medley and Miley Cyrus’s “Flowers” mic drop to Billie Eilish’s Song of the Year rendering of “What Was I Made For?” from the “Barbie” soundtrack.

Still, I’ve gotta give props to the veterans, who gave us the most riveting moments in the show. Tracy Chapman teaming up with Luke Combs for “Fast Car” was a surprise duet. Especially touching was the “In Memoriam” segment, in which the late Tony Bennett was honored with two songs sung by Stevie Wonder: “For Once in My Life” (in which Stevie dueted with a clip from Bennett’s live performance of it in the Grammy tribute to “Songs in the Key of Life”) and “The Best is Yet to Come”. That was followed by Annie Lennox’s emotionally stirring rendition of “Nothing Compares 2 U”, in tribute to the late Sinead O’Connor and Jon Batiste’s tribute to music executive Clarence Avant. The segment concluded with Fantasia Barrino’s rousing cover of “Proud Mary” in tribute to the late Tina Turner.

Billy Joel’s return to the Grammy stage with his first new song (“Turn the Lights Back On”) in thirty years along with his closing rendition of “You May Be Right” was a treat. And seeing an ailing Celine Dion emerge on the Grammy stage to a standing ovation to present the Album of the Year Award was quite moving. Taylor Swift made history by winning that award—the fourth time she has done so, outdistancing Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, and Paul Simon, all of whom had three Album of the Year Grammy Awards to their credit. (Yes, yes, of course, this is only the first half of a psyop in which Taylor Swift takes Album of the Year and her boyfriend Travis Kelce and the Kansas City Chiefs win the Super Bowl before endorsing Joe Biden for President. If you can’t keep up with conspiracy theory nowadays, get with the program!)

Still, for me, the most poignant moment had to be Joni Mitchell’s performance of “Both Sides, Now” from her 1969 album, “Clouds”. At 80 years old, having had a lifetime of health challenges, this was Mitchell’s first live Grammy performance. The jazz-infused arrangement included accompaniment from Brandi Carlile, Jacob Collier, Lucius, Blake Mills, Allison Russell and SistaStrings. She also took home the Grammy prize for Best Folk Album (“Joni Mitchell at Newport”).

Congratulations to all the winners at the 66th Annual Grammy Awards!

Song of the Day #2086

Song of the Day: Three Little Pigs (“Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?”), words and music by Frank Churchill and Ann Ronell, made its screen debut in the 1933 Disney short, “Three Little Pigs“, which won an Oscar for Best Animated Short Film. Check out the original version from the short, as well as very different renditions by Barbra Streisand and LL Cool J [YouTube links]. Though neither a pig nor a wolf, Punxsutawney Phil, the famous Groundhog, has predicted an early spring. His prediction has been confirmed by Staten Island Chuck, who has the added virtue of having scuffled with a couple of New York Mayors. Chuck also boasts an 80% accuracy rate, compared to Punxsutawney Phil’s 39% accuracy rate. Either way, in two weeks, pitchers and catchers report to Spring training, and that’s as sure a sign as any that the Vernal Equinox is just around the corner!

Jonathan Rauch on the History of LGBTQ Erasure

Over the years, Jonathan Rauch’s prolific work has delved into many provocative political and cultural topics. The openly gay author, who is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, has been a strong proponent of same-sex marriage and a gallant critic of attacks on free thought.  His newest contribution to The Atlantic, “The U.S. Should Apologize to Gay People” (26 January 2024), is a riveting piece of journalistic research, exploring the ways in which the U.S. government led a campaign to erase LGBTQ people from public life.  

Rauch’s investigation exemplifies a genuinely dialectical approach to the study of history. By that I mean, Rauch is concerned with exploring the full context that shaped and was shaped by political, cultural, economic, psychiatric, and social institutions, all working in tandem toward the oppression of LGBTQ people in the United States. He traces the ways in which these institutions became reciprocally reinforcing preconditions and effects of one another, leaving a tragic wreckage of individual lives in their wake.

The author reminds us of a time when “the U.S. government fired homosexuals, the military discharged them, and police arrested them.” But this well-known history sheds little light on the systemic policies that “were not discrimination of any ordinary sort.” Rauch admits that even he had “not fully appreciated” the full historical scope involved. He’s very clear that “[b]ecause society targeted what it identified as ‘homosexuality,’” he uses that term throughout his essay, even though it applies broadly to “[p]eople who today would identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or gender-nonconforming,” all of whom were targeted. He writes:

Beginning in the 1940s and continuing for more than six decades, the United States waged a campaign of legal, social, and psychological obliteration against its homosexual population. … The campaign was initiated by the federal government but recruited all of society. The pressure could be felt everywhere. It found you not only at work, where you could be fired, or in bars and clubs, where you could be arrested, but also on the street and in public spaces, where you could be harassed or assaulted; in a doctor’s care, where you might be deemed mentally ill; at home, where you saw gay people ridiculed and pathologized on TV. …

The goal … was not merely to disadvantage homosexual people; it was to erase homosexuality from every corner of public life. … Some of what America did to its LGBTQ citizens would have been right at home in places such as prewar Germany, Communist East Germany, and any number of repressive states today. … The campaign stands, at its peak, as America’s purest national experiment with totalitarianism. Although not the cruelest or deadliest of America’s historical oppressions—no populations were decimated or relocated; no people were enslaved—it stands apart in its use of every governmental and social channel to eliminate the very thought of “deviance.”

Whereas totalitarianism is typically thought of as “centrally planned and imposed,” in the United States, “a decentralized system of mutually reinforcing repressions” had much the same totalizing effect. Rauch recognizes how various structures, institutions, and practices across American society fortified one another. “Official acts of persecution, executed loudly over many years, could not fail to echo in the culture at large; and indeed, they created a permission structure for blatant prejudice. Mass media amplified the message that homosexuality was disgusting and terrifying.” This “entire system of erasure was backed by violence,” as LGBTQ people were all too often singled out for street bullying, threats, and assaults. Moreover, the psychiatric profession provided “both legitimacy and impetus for the eradication of homosexuality,” becoming “the most soul-crushing cog in the repressive machine.” The psychiatric use of electroshock therapy, lobotomization, and other gruesome techniques to tame sexuality were matched by coerced resignations and blackmail in the private sector and interrogations, arrests, and prosecutions in the public sector.

Rauch continues:

The arrests, the raids, the firings, the networks of informants, the coercive investigations, the surveillance, the obliteration of privacy, the abuse of medicine, the drumbeat of street violence, the disruptions of social gatherings and family life—each element of the regime supported and amplified the others. Only by standing back and seeing the regime whole does one appreciate how all of society was bent toward repressing every aspect of homosexual life, wherever it might appear. The goal was to suppress not just deviant activity but deviant expression and even deviant thought. That was what made it literally totalitarian.

Rauch’s investigation in this remarkable essay is staggering in its scale. He examines how interlocking structures of oppression amounted to a virtual “declaration of war” on homosexuality. Some of the battlegrounds in this war could be found in the actions of various commissions, Congressional and Senate hearings, agencies as diverse as the Foreign Service, Civil Service, and FBI, and the Departments of Commerce, Defense, and State. It extended even into the Oval Office, when, “in 1953, President Dwight Eisenhower issued his infamous Executive Order 10450, one of America’s most grotesque civil-rights violations, declaring ‘sexual perversion’ to be a security threat. The effect was to authorize all federal departments and agencies to root out and terminate sexual deviants. … [H]omosexuals were fired automatically, without excuse or exception.”

This federal effort was met by state and local “enforcement of anti-homosexual measures,” which involved systematic “surveilling, entrapping, arresting, harassing, exposing, and prosecuting homosexuals at previously unknown rates.” Targeted by laws prohibiting “solicitation, indecency, lewdness, loitering, and obscenity effectively criminalized the mere act of flirting, socializing, or hanging out.”

In 1973, even after the American Psychiatric Association had “removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses, … the damage lingered for decades.” In that very same year, Rauch explains,

Farrall Instrument Co. of Grand Island, Nebraska, proudly advertised a line of devices for home-psychiatric treatment of male homosexuality. The ‘Visually Keyed Shocker’ showed alternating slides depicting conventionally attractive women and men (‘stimulus scenes’). The latter were accompanied by an electric shock. If you were a latent homosexual and desperate for a ‘cure,’ you could buy one for $600 or more.

In a moment of poignant self-reflection, Rauch, who was 13 in that year, tells us:

This was the world I grew up in … Everything I saw and heard conveyed that something was wrong with me, and that I must keep it secret, especially from the people I loved and depended on. So warped was my inner world that, until I was 25, I could not bear to face the blatant truth about myself and managed to believe that I was asexual, some kind of freak who could never love anyone (a story I told in my 2013 book, Denial: My 25 Years Without a Soul). In that respect, though I never owned a “Visually Keyed Shocker,” I administered a full course of self-erasure in the privacy of my mind.

Many years later, on January 9, 2017, Secretary of State John Kerry posted an official apology on the State Department’s website, “for the department’s relentless, decades-long persecution of homosexuals. By January 23, the page was gone, removed in one of the first acts of the incoming Trump administration. The government was sorry for two weeks.”

That such acts of erasure continue prompts Rauch to call on the United States to join the governments of the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, and others, which have apologized for “past abuses of homosexuals.” He further demands “restitution to living victims of government arrest, firing, or military discharge.” This is most assuredly not “pandering to modern grievance culture.” In Rauch’s view, it is the righting of a systemic injustice in accordance with American ideals.

The author warns us that as today’s “conservative activists crisscross the country seeking to wipe homosexuality and transgenderism from school libraries, from history classes, and from other curricula,” there is an eerie similarity to the campaigns of yore. His words are timelier than ever as illiberal assaults on LGBTQ people are heightened throughout this nation’s increasingly toxic culture wars.

My discussion here, which quotes liberally from Rauch’s important essay, offers only a fraction of its unsettling contents. I urge folks to read every single word of this raw historical reckoning.

You can access the article on the site of The Atlantic. It is also archived here.

Some Facebook discussion of this entry can be found here.

Philosophical Christmas

I saw this circulating on Facebook … to add to our holiday cheer!

Boettke on Lavoie

The fall 2023 issue of The Independent Review: A Journal of Political Economy (vol. 28, no. 2), focuses attention on “Underappreciated Economists”. One essay that resonated with me is written by my friend and colleague, Peter Boettke: “Don Lavoie: The Failures of Socialist Central Planning.” Boettke is in a unique position to have authored this essay. He, along with the late Steve Horwitz, Dave Prychitko, Emily Chamlee-Wright, and Virgil Storr, were among Don’s foremost students. And in their own works, one can see how each has carried forth elements of Don’s legacy. Boettke’s essay is, in many respects, a celebration of Lavoie’s inspiring gifts as a teacher and mentor.

The essay reviews Lavoie’s two most cited works, Rivalry and Central Planning: The Socialist Calculation Debate Reconsidered and National Economic Planning: What is Left? —both of which shed much light on the crucially important “knowledge problem” and the necessity of understanding economic and social processes dynamically, across time. But Boettke rightfully laments the fact that Don Lavoie’s untimely death at the age of 50, from pancreatic cancer, left many works unfinished. Still, this appreciation of Lavoie’s contributions to comparative economic systems, philosophy of science, and computer science, including key principles applicable to emergent AI, is a worthy read.

In contrast to prominent models of politico-economic “militarization”, Lavoie provided us with an “interpretive turn,” which integrated economic insights from Austrian theory, epistemic insights from the works of Michael Polanyi on tacit knowledge, and hermeneutical methodological precepts. Boettke argues that Lavoie viewed the ideology of power and privilege as the greatest threats to free civilization, while offering a vision for a “gentle and humane” society “grounded in our mutual respect and desire to learn from one another.”

Though much of Lavoie’s work is not readily available and only a few representative presentations exist on YouTube, including three lectures that I posted back in February 2023, Boettke touches upon Lavoie’s planned projects, including those on methodology and a book entitled “Understanding Political Economy”. Lavoie hoped to realize the key aims of critical theory through an Austrian-inspired approach. In this, as in many other areas of study, Lavoie was a theorist ahead of his time.

Don was one of my dearest friends and this is a wonderful article in tribute to the projects—and promise—of his work.

JFK 60

This essay also appears on Medium.

Sixty years ago, this week, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Since that time, there has been a never-ending debate over who was responsible for JFK’s death: Lee Harvey Oswald? The CIA? The Mafia? Cuban Exiles? All of them? None of them?

I have no intention of even attempting to resolve these controversial questions. I write neither to praise the promise of “Camelot” nor to condemn Kennedy’s “fascist New Frontier”, as Ayn Rand famously characterized it.

My focus here is a bit more personal. It’s about what it was like to be a 3-year-old kid, living in Brooklyn, New York, watching these events unfold on a vintage black-and-white television screen. And how that experience—and the experience of seeing the events of the 1960s—sparked my interest in history and politics.

My earliest childhood TV memories are of Saturday morning cartoons, as well as primetime gems like “The Flintstones” and “The Jetsons“. But, for me, watching televised real-life events was even more exhilarating. I was enthralled when John Glenn orbited the earth three times on my mother’s birthday, February 20, 1962, only three days after I turned 2. Seven years later, I was ecstatic to see the first human beings step on the surface of the moon. That fascination with heroic acts of exploration and the promise of human possibility have remained with me throughout my life.

There were also quite a few unsettling news reports that I absorbed in those early years. I saw black children being blasted with high-pressure firehoses, clubbed by police, and attacked by snarling dogs because they dared to protest against the disgraceful segregationist policies in Birmingham, Alabama, in May 1963. I may have been too young to understand exactly what was going on. But I saw my mother do the sign of the cross, saying a prayer for those kids, as our family witnessed this heart-wrenching display on television.

On Friday, November 22, 1963, we watched another unfolding event of brutality that was, quite frankly, unbelievable. Though I was less than three months away from turning 4 years old, that day and the days that followed remain seared into my consciousness.

Early on that Friday morning, we received a phone call that my Yaya had fallen. My mother picked me up in her arms and held me as she walked a few blocks away to assist my aunts and uncles as they tended to my bruised grandmother. By early afternoon, things had settled down. The TV was on, and everybody was watching “As the World Turns”. A few moments into the broadcast, Walter Cronkite made his first announcements that shots had been fired at the motorcade in Dallas and that the 46-year-old President had been “seriously wounded.” Everybody in the room gasped. Within an hour or so, Cronkite confirmed that JFK was dead.

That news flash—and the horrifying reactions of my family members—rattled me. In the days that followed, my entire family was glued to nonstop television coverage. Perhaps even more unsettling was what we witnessed on November 24, 1963, as the alleged assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, was gunned down on live television by Jack Ruby. The screams of family members were so intense that the whole apartment seemed to shake.

The traumatic effects of all this cannot be underestimated. Like many who bore witness to this tragedy, my family was deeply affected, even while offering us youngsters all the comfort and support we required. After all, for kids of my generation, this was our first experience not only with death but with televised violence. We saw world leaders taking part in a mournful funeral procession, played out on a global stage. Images of JFK’s own kids—including little John John saluting his father’s coffin—were replayed over and over again.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that one aunt of mine, who was quite vocal in her hatred of the Kennedys, expressed annoyance with the networks for having “robbed” kids of those Saturday morning cartoons. Nevertheless, our family was part of that 90% of the American public that embraced what author Joseph Campbell once called “a deeply significant rite of passage” over those four historic days of television coverage.

I didn’t experience a fully personal loss until the sudden death of my 55-year old father in 1972, when I was 12 years old. Still, the 1960s gave me an ever-expanding education on death and destruction. In February 1968, Walter Cronkite reported on “the bloody experience of Vietnam” that was doomed “to end in a stalemate.” Battle deaths mounted; in the end, the U.S. experienced over 58,000 fatalities, and the Vietnamese, on both sides of the conflict, suffered as many as 3 million civilian and military deaths. On March 16, Robert F. Kennedy began his presidential campaign. By March 31, Lyndon B. Johnson announced he would not seek re-election. Days later, on Thursday, April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr., 39 years of age, was assassinated and the suspect was a white man.

In the wake of King’s murder, the country experienced widespread riots and civil unrest. Somehow, New York City averted major violence. Mayor John Lindsay traveled to Harlem, in an outreach to black residents, while schools fostered healing. When I walked into my second-grade class, one of my friends, a black girl named Wanda, came over to me and said: “One of your kind of people killed one of my kind of people.” She looked so sad. All I could say to her was: “He was a bad person. Not everyone is like him.” And I reached out and touched her hand. It was a teachable moment as staff distributed educational pamphlets exploring King’s legacy.

Virtually two months later, in the wee hours of Wednesday, June 5, 1968, we were awakened in the middle of the night by my Aunt Georgia, who called to tell us to turn on the TV: Robert F. Kennedy had just been shot in the aftermath of the California primary. Our black-and-white TV flickered on. I could see that RFK’s head was being held above a pool of blood. As another act of violence was beamed into our home, we watched into the wee hours. The next day, RFK died at the age of 42. It was Brooklyn Day and the schools were closed.

I have often looked back on the 1960s as the worst decade in my 63 years. Before the age of 9, I had to process assassinations, war, riots, and deep polarization. And yet, I look around the world today and find myself wondering if we are headed into a period that might surpass that era in terms of sheer brutality.

Having seen so much footage of that fateful November day in 1963—including the graphic Zapruder film—it felt eerie when, years later, I finally visited Dealey Plaza for the first time and toured the Sixth Floor Museum. I relived the experiences of a three-year old in a way that brought the events to life even more vividly. (The photos here were taken by me in Dealey Plaza.)

The JFK Assassination remains a singular emblematic event. I have no doubt that this event, and the other turbulent events of the 1960s, were partially responsible for nourishing my deep interest in trying to understand the social, cultural, and political forces that shaped them. But the decade also offered kernels of promise, the possibilities for change, an enchantment with the stars. It all coalesced to fuel my passionate vision for a nobler world in which hatred, violence, and war were relegated to the dustbin of history.

GoFundMe for Roderick Long

On Facebook, I posted a GoFundMe link for my dear friend Roderick Tracy Long on Facebook. Folks can visit that GFM link here. Sadly, someone attacked Roderick’s character on my thread and another. In response to that, I wrote the following:

I posted this yesterday evening without commenting. In the light of comments that were made on this thread (and subsequently deleted by me) and on another thread as well, I would like to say something about Roderick Tracy Long.

I have known Roderick on both a personal and professional level for more than 25 years. I posted this GoFundMe plea out of compassion for a dear friend. He is among the gentlest human beings I have ever met. Throughout his life, he’s also had his share of problems.

That somebody would use this plea as an opportunity to engage in an outlandish, disgraceful attack on this man’s character is something that hadn’t occurred to me. I would like to apologize to anyone who saw the comments or who replied to them. The person who made the comments attacking Roderick has been unfriended. The comments have been deleted.

Let it be known: Roderick is a man of integrity. He has remarkable intelligence, a hilarious sense of humor, and a kind heart. You may disagree with him on any number of subjects—I do. But on an ideological level, he has been a stalwart defender of human freedom and personal flourishing.

I will not allow this page to be desecrated by comments that disparage my friend. Not here. Not ever.

Roderick needs help; please donate if you can. I love him lots.

Orson Welles and “The War of the Worlds” 85

I have long had an enormous fascination with H. G. Wells‘s 1898 novel, The War of the Worlds and its many adaptations, from board games, video games, comic books, and musicals to six different television series and four films—including my absolute favorite, the classic George Pal-produced 1953 version starring Gene Barry and Ann Robinson, who make a cameo appearance at the end of the more graphic 2005 Steven Spielberg version.

But it was on this date that Orson Welles provided a shocking radio adaptation whose cultural impact has only been magnified in the 85 years since it first aired. On October 30, 1938, between the hours of 8 and 9 pm (ET), the CBS Radio Network presented a Mercury Theater on the Air dramatization of this sci-fi classic, recrafting it as a real-time broadcast with news interruptions that informed the audience of an unfolding, horrifying crisis in New Jersey. Alas, some folks tuned in a little late and didn’t realize that this was not news—fake or otherwise. They had no idea that the invasion from Mars was pure fiction.

It has been said that in the depths of the Great Depression and with an ever-present memory of the high casualties and slaughter of a World War, many Americans looked on world events with both caution and concern. In March of 1938, Hitler had annexed Austria. At the beginning of October, just days after British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain had declared “Peace for Our Time,” Hitler moved into Sudetenland, Bohemia, and Czechoslovakia. Perhaps more than a few people were a bit ‘jumpy’ given the tenor of the times.

Still, there has been much debate as to how widespread the panic was to this broadcast. Newspapers hyped a nationwide meltdown the next day and the tale has been retold so many times that it has taken on a life of its own. It seems clear, however, that more than a few people were alarmed. The event has been immortalized as a demonstration of the power of a relatively new social medium. Today, as media has expanded exponentially from radio and television to streaming platforms and the Internet, we are more aware than ever of its power to provoke anger, frustration, and fear.

Whatever its impact, the broadcast itself—especially as it unfolds in its first 20-30 minutes—is quite a listen. Though Orson Welles’s introduction clearly states that this is a dramatization, you wouldn’t know it from the minutes that follow. As we’re enjoying the dance music of Ramón Raquello and His Orchestra from the Park Plaza Hotel’s Meridian Room, there’s an interruption from Intercontinental Radio News telling us of explosions on the planet Mars, with objects “moving toward Earth with enormous velocity”. Our program of dance music—that of Raquello and of Bobby Millet and His Orchestra at the Hotel Martinet in Brooklyn—is interrupted continuously by special news reports. Most concerning is the one coming out of Grover’s Mill, New Jersey, where an odd-looking ‘meteor’ has slammed into a local farm. The horrors that unfold in the ‘eyewitness’ report of what is apparently a Martian attack have a similar tone to the live radio newscast of the May 1937 Hindenburg tragedy [YouTube link], as that craft, engulfed in flames, crashed to the grounds of Lakehurst, New Jersey. Boy, New Jersey, you’ve got all the luck, from a German dirigible disaster in 1937 and a Martian invasion in 1938 to Snooki on the Shore and the Real Housewives both crashing into our culture in 2009! Damn!

In any event, for those who have never heard this broadcast, try to suspend your twenty-first century sophistication for a little while and check out this iconic moment of Halloween-eve history [YouTube link].

Modernizing Aristotle’s Ethics

I want to take this opportunity to highlight a new book by Roger Bissell and Vinay Kolhatkar: Modernizing Aristotle’s Ethics: Toward a New Art and Science of Self-Actualization (Ethics Press, 2023). As I state in a promotional blurb: “This book is an accessible and well-written contribution to the neo-Aristotelian tradition, upholding the twin values of human freedom and personal flourishing. The authors present a provocative distillation of ideas drawn from a mighty array of interdisciplinary studies. Even those who disagree with any aspect of this work will find themselves challenged by the high quality of its arguments. A must read especially for fans of Aristotle, Aquinas, and Ayn Rand.”

Praise has come from others as well:

Modernizing Aristotle’s Ethics takes applied eudaimonism along roads less travelled, by way of Ayn Rand, David Norton, Chris Sciabarra, and Den Uyl and Rasmussen. With extended visits to Abraham Maslow’s humanistic psychology, Nathaniel Branden’s clinical philosophy, some varieties of evolutionary psychology, and Deci and Ryan’s self-determination theory. Bissell and Kolhatkar develop an accessible account of a humane, meaningful life that is significantly different both from Positive Psychology and from previous Randian treatments. Their model of four orders of humaneness is worthy of further examination.” – Robert L. Campbell

“Roger Bissell and Vinay Kolhatkar have a great appreciation for Aristotle, which comes across clearly even as they also seek to modernize those elements of Aristotle’s work where later developments in physical or social science call for it. The book is well-researched but easily accessible to the general reader. The result gives them a plausible way to construct a theory of how to live a meaningful and humane life.” – Aeon J. Skoble

“In this ambitious and well-argued book, Bissell and Kolhatkar provide a clear and coherent framework within which they have adapted and expanded upon ideas from Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Ayn Rand, and several contemporary neo-Aristotelian thinkers. The authors have accomplished this while also marvelously and systematically integrating insights from philosophy, biology, psychology, and other social sciences and humanities.”- Edward W Younkins

“Any person seeking advice about how to live his or her life has a huge number of books to choose from, but Modernizing Aristotle’s Ethics is one of a small number that can credibly claim to build upon Aristotle’s wisdom. Roger Bissell and Vinay Kolhatkar offer a distinctly Neo-Aristotelian view of what it means to live well in the 21st century.” – Winton Bates

My congratulations to both Vinay and Roger!