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Plato associated laughter with loss of self-control. Epictetus never laughed at all. What's the philosophical significance of funny?
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John Stuart Mill was famous; Lord Byron was a celebrity. The distinction is rooted in history, culture, and how we consume our icons
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A conundrum lies at the heart of Georges Perec’s work: Is it possible to write about the unimaginable cruelty with the infantile levity of a jigsaw puzzle?
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Who are the most influential intellectuals? Prospect offers a list of the 50 thinkers explaining and changing the world
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“We do not,” says Nicholas Christakis, “find a functional society without love, friendship, cooperation, or personal identity.” How hard has he looked?
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The moon landing wasn't so much a triumph of science or a testament to the expansion of human horizons. The triumph was aesthetic
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What works of art define our age? The New York Times asks artists and critics an impossible question
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Iris Murdoch has fallen out of fashion, but her work is worth retrieving as a moral philosophy with a steely-eyed suspicion of intellectual confidence
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We flinch in the face of the Bible's misery and violence, chauvinism and misogyny, idealism and generosity, forgiveness and humaneness
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Bob Dylan fans can be insufferable obsessives. They possess a surfeit of trivia and a dearth of understanding. What about Dylan scholars?

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