Daily Archives: September 7, 2023

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Don Lavoie and the Knowledge Problem

I first met Don Lavoie when I was an undergraduate at NYU. We became very dear friends and followed similarly focused professional paths.

Sadly, in 2001, Don passed away at the young age of 50. But his important work on the “knowledge problem” is among his most significant legacies. Indeed, his insights are deeply appreciated by those of us who adhere to a dialectical vision of human freedom and personal flourishing. That was one of the reasons I welcomed Nathan Goodman​’s wonderful contribution, “Don Lavoie’s Dialectical Liberalism“, to The Dialectics of Liberty: Exploring the Context of Human Freedom, published in 2019, and for which I was a coeditor.

Among those very promising young writers who are carrying forth Don’s remarkable legacy is my friend Cory Massimino​. As Cory writes in his recent essay, “Don Lavoie on the Continuing Relevance of the Knowledge Problem“:

Lavoie considered himself a “radical” in the sense that he thought “our society is in serious trouble and demands a sharp departure from current policies” and affirmed the need to “transcend—through principled and concerted social action—war and militarism, political oppression, and special privilege, and to set in motion progressive forces that will begin to solve such difficult human problems as poverty, disease, and environmental decay.” … For Lavoie, the knowledge problem informed not just a radical critique but a radical vision, a lively, humanistic, cosmopolitan, and emancipatory vision of cultural, scientific, and economic progress through peaceful social cooperation, dynamic experimentation, and mutual exchange. As the knowledge problem continues to be misunderstood, underrated, or downright ignored, and as human freedom continues to be trampled on, it’s vital we keep the legacy and, more importantly, the ideas of Don Lavoie alive and well.

Amen. Check out Cory’s article!

Song of the Day #2070

Song of the Day: Only Murders in the Building (“Look for the Light”), words and music by Sara Bareilles, Benj Pasek, and Justin Paul, is featured in Season 3, Episode 3 (“Grab Your Hankies”) of this show, which first streamed on August 15, 2023. This Hulu series began its run in August 2021; it has an incredible cast of characters, with a wonderful trio—portrayed by Martin Short, Steve Martin, and Selena Gomez—leading the seasonal investigations. I’ve enjoyed the show not only for its blend of hilarious inside jokes and touching poignancy, but also for its familiar New York settings. There are still four more episodes left to the newest season and we still don’t know Whodunit! Check out Meryl Streep and Ashley Park, who perform this lovely song in episode 3. OMITB has a nice title theme as well, composed by Sidhartha Khosla [YouTube link].