Brooklyn Institute for Social Research -
  • Amid protests across the country, skyrocketing inequality, and decades or more of socioeconomic decline for the vast majority of Americans, the question of class has returned to the fore. Self-identified socialist politicians are now a recognizable feature of US politics; and class strife is openly acknowledged. With even many right-wing politicians claiming “the working class” as their constituency, the myth of the United States as somehow uniquely a “classless” society, or as a place in which class doesn’t matter, has withered. What, though, is class? What does understanding society through the lens of class do? How can we understand the specific role and significance that class plays in 21st-century life?
  • In 1876, an aspiring young Austrian scientist named Sigmund Freud spent several thankless months in a lab in Trieste, trying to develop a technique for determining sexual differences among eels. In this, he failed, but by the time of his death in 1939, Freud had become world-famous for something else entirely: the founding of psychoanalysis, a sprawling body of knowledge that encompasses therapeutic practices, psychological theory, philosophical and cultural criticism, and more. Who was Freud, and what were his key ideas? ...
  • Existing alongside the so-called formal economy—of employment, production, ownership, and sale within a recognized legal regime—is a shadowy realm of economic activity that takes place “out of sight,” “off the books,” and without ordinary social and political sanction. The informal economy employs street vendors, domestic workers, and subcontracted workers, and as their numbers grow, questions of immigration, precarity, wages, and worker protection take on increased political urgency. What is the relation between the informal and the formal capitalist economy? ...
  • At the epicenter of Kant’s broad philosophical project regarding nature, the self, aesthetics, and history is an ultimate concern with morality and the good. How must we re-conceive of our moral obligations to each other in the light of declining religious authority and belief? For Kant, there is a necessary relationship between reason and freedom, morality and autonomy. It’s a conception of freedom and autonomy that has had a lasting impact on moral and political philosophy. How can we understand Kant’s moral philosophy and it continued salience today? ...
  • The scenario is simple: cat loves mouse, mouse throws brick at cat, police dog claps mouse in jail. George Herriman’s Krazy Kat builds on the structure of a love triangle a whole world of surreal visual experimentation, linguistic play, social critique, and every possible kind of laughter. Its poetry is singular, its invention matchless. How did this run of comics by a working newspaper illustrator born to mixed-race, Creole parents in New Orleans become a touchstone across the cultural spectrum, from avant-garde modernism to ballet to contemporary poetry and art? ...
  • In its stark portrayal of the quest for meaning amidst great suffering, the book of Job stands alone not only in the Hebrew Bible, but also among the wisdom literature of the ancient Near East. A work of magnificent poetic beauty, it raises the perennial question of why bad things happen to good people—but with surprising responses. How can we understand the book of Job: in its historical context, in its literary formulation, and in its philosophical implications? ...

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