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  • Aesthetics is central to Kant’s philosophical project. In judging a thing to be beautiful, Kant maintained, we bridge “the great gulf” between nature and human freedom, and prepare ourselves to “love something, even nature, without interest”—that is, to exercise moral judgment. Immensely influential in its time, the so-called “third Critique” inspired and gave energy to both German Idealism, which attempted to provide a rational and holistic account of the unity of all of things, and German Romanticism, which emphasized loss, longing, and the fragmentary. How can we understand Kant’s approach to art and aesthetics today?
  • By the mid-1980s, modernity appeared to have reached a new and dangerous precipice: nuclear standoff characterized the political domain, while the Chernobyl disaster focused global attention on the toxic effects of even ordinary, non-nuclear industrial production. “Risk society is a catastrophic society,” wrote the late sociologist Ulrich Beck in 1986, one in which “the exceptional condition threatens to become the norm.” What does it mean to view the world through the lens of risk, with one eye always fixed on the horizon of possible disaster?
  • Read by everyone from Josef Stalin to Tupac Shakur, Machiavelli’s The Prince has become synonymous with a cold, calculating, strategic, and power-based approach to politics. In a word: “Machiavellian.” Machiavelli, hoping to return to his advisory role for the powerful Medici family of 16th-century Florence, penned a truly groundbreaking work: at once, one of the founding works of modern political science, a how-to manual for rulers, and a political work in which morality—save perhaps a glimmer of the normative value of order—is utterly absent. For Machiavelli, political inquiry is fundamentally the study of power: how it’s achieved, how it operates, and how it’s preserved.
  • The French architect, philosopher, and cultural critic Paul Virilio was “one of those special (and in a way accursed) writers who was right about things we don’t really want to know,” writes McKenzie Wark. A self-described “child of the Blitzkrieg” who spent his formative years in Nazi-occupied France, Virilio returned again and again to the themes of war, speed, and military technology—to the assertion that history “progresses at the speed of its weapons systems.” How has the rapid advancement of military and information technology transformed the character, terrain, and ends of modern warfare? How has the logic of militarization come to structure so much of everyday life?

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