The Declaration of Independence is perhaps the most masterfully written state paper of Western civilization. As Moses Coit Tyler noted almost a century ago, no assessment of it can be complete without taking into account its extraordinary merits as a work of political prose style. Although many scholars have recognized those merits, there are surprisingly few sustained studies of the stylistic artistry of the Declaration. This essay seeks to illuminate that artistry by probing the discourse microscopically -- at the level of the sentence, phrase, word, and syllable.
The University of Wisconsin's Dr. Stephen E. Lucas meticulously analyzes the elegant language of the 235-year-old charter in a distillation of this comprehensive study
. More on the Declaration: full transcript
and ultra-high-resolution scan
, a transcript and scan of Jefferson's annotated rough draft
, the little-known royal rebuttal
, a thorough history of the parchment itself
, a peek at the archival process
, a reading of the document by the people of NPR
and by a group of prominent actors
, H. L. Mencken's "American" translation
, Slate's Twitter summaries
, and a look at the fates of the 56 signers
posted by Rhaomi
on Jul 4, 2011 -
Stuck on a train for an hour every day and sick of sudoku? Hands love to knit but the brain gets bored? Riding out the recession as a streetcorner sign-twirler? Or maybe you've just got a burning desire for "cultural conversation of the depth you demand." If so, then Metafilter's own Colin Marshall
has got what you need at the Marketplace of Ideas
. [more inside]
posted by villanelles at dawn
on Jun 30, 2011 -
Philosophy fundraiser mountain walk-a-thon.
Prominent philosophy professor Crispin Wright will walk the length of the Pennine Way
, a 250+ mile mountaintop trail in the UK, to raise funds to support his philosophy students. (The link on the Pennine Way is worth reading.) Along the way he'll stop each day to answer a philosophical question voted on by the people who contribute to the fund.
posted by LobsterMitten
on Jun 25, 2011 -
"How is one to know which aspect
of a person counts as that person’s true self
?" Does it lie "precisely in our suppressed urges and unacknowledged emotions, while our ability to reflect is just a hindrance that gets in the way of this true self’s expression?" Or is "the most distinctive and essential to a human being is the capacity for rational reflection?" Or is the authentic self "the ideologically-validated
posted by AceRock
on Jun 9, 2011 -
On one level America reCycled
is simply the journal of two brothers riding recycled bicycles across the United States and meeting people. Lots of them. On another level it is a Homeric tale of an American adventure. It has been a long time since I have seen web content of this quality. The writing is superb, the videos so compelling you can't look away and the perspective gained is invaluable. I am positive this has been posted here before, but it certainly deserves a bump.
posted by dbooker
on May 20, 2011 -
Swimming around in a mixture of language and matter, humans occupy a particular evolutionary niche mediated by something we call 'consciousness'. To Professor Nicholas Humphrey we're made up of "soul dust
": "a kind of theatre... an entertainment which we put on for ourselves inside our own heads." But just as that theatre is directed by the relationship between language and matter, it is also undermined by it
. It all depends how you think it.
posted by 0bvious
on Feb 4, 2011 -
Ivan Illich was an Austrian philosopher, Roman Catholic priest and critic of the institutions of contemporary western culture and their effects on the provenance and practice of education, medicine, work, energy use, and economic development.
posted by Joe Beese
on Feb 3, 2011 -
Professional philosophers have long known that there are far fewer women in philosophy than there are men. (Some quick info.
) Recently, this issue has taken center-stage in the philosophy blogosphere. First, a new study
suggests that gender plays a role in what intuitions one has to philosophical thought experiments, such as the Gettier cases
about knowledge, and The Trolley Problem
related to ethics (via
). Second, a new blog, What is it like to be a woman in philosophy?
, has exploded
as it shows the good
, the bad
, and the downright ugly
involved in being a woman in the profession. [more inside]
posted by meese
on Oct 14, 2010 -
Ask the atheist
"Have a question for an atheist? Ever wonder what atheists think about morality, faith, science, etc.? How do atheists live their lives without a god? How do they know right from wrong? Are they just angry at god? Do they really NOT believe?" [more inside]
posted by Paragon
on Oct 13, 2010 -
"In the depth of winter I finally learned there was in me an eternal September. This definite, very real September I'm writing in, however, is the only place and time I want or need. Football season is over; football season has begun. The rest is life, and it can and will wait until February, the question that always answers itself by becoming March, and then April, and then back to September again, where we do not root for Tennessee, because that is simply not done here."
posted by ivey
on Sep 3, 2010 -