Can We Think without Words?

Are language and thought one and the same? Can we only know reality through the medium of language? Donald Fagen, one of the geniuses behind Steely Dan, in his autobiography Elegant Hipsters, traces entire subcultures spawned by Count Korzybski’s General Semantics. The basic idea of the book is succinctly summarized by Steven Pinker in The Language Instinct: “General … More Can We Think without Words?

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Steven Pinker: Friend or foe of the Enlightenment?

It pains me to write this. This morning my Google news feed included a  review of Enlightenment Now from the Jacobin magazine denouncing Steven Pinker as a “false friend of the Enlightenment”; and this, just when I thought I could sit back and watch the march of progress from the comfort of my own home.  Dr Frim, … More Steven Pinker: Friend or foe of the Enlightenment?

What Is?

To ask this question deeply is to step into quicksand from which there may be no return for those who sincerely ask it. You may, for the rest of your life, be consumed with trying to answer it. Nothing will ever seem to be the same again. Just look at the Pied Pipers of the … More What Is?

The Guru Letters

It was 1940, and the Democratic Convention was about to pick their presidential candidates. Paul Block, a Pittsburgh newspaper publisher, knew he had dynamite. The “guru” letters. They were strange letters written by Henry A. Wallace, currently FDR’s popular Secretary of Agriculture, and rumored to be his choice for VP in the upcoming presidential election. … More The Guru Letters