Mark Shiffman

What You Need to Know About Simone Weil

weil2 December 3, 2013

Born in 1909 to secular Jewish Parisians, at age 10 Simone Weil was memorizing Racine and marching in labor union protests.  She attended the École Normale and then briefly taught philosophy to lycée girls, serving on weekends as a volunteer…

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Thoughts on Statesmanship in a Season of Dearth

Cicero October 9, 2012

One may notice in this election cycle a certain amount of talk about statesmanship – primarily because each of the candidates is thought to lack it. The latest issue of the Economist refers to “unstatesmanlike” remarks made by Romney. Cornel…

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The Banks we Deserve, the Economy we can Sustain

September 29, 2012

If you didn’t catch this panel put on by Marketplace and BBC, it’s pretty exciting.
It takes the expert panel only about 10 minutes (2:00 to 12:40) to get to crucial points FPR folks have been making for years: We…

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Phillip Blond at Villanova

March 26, 2010

Video of Blond’s March 22nd talk at Villanova is now available online.

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9-11 and the Cloud of Overwhelming Force

September 11, 2009


Mt. Airy, Philadelphia, 9-11-09.… Eight years ago today, and in the days immediately following, Americans found themselves bewildered. An unprecedented mood had fallen upon them, an unfamiliar atmosphere surrounded them. It was hard to identify or even describe. It seemed

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Dirty Hands, Clean Mind

July 17, 2009

Mt. Airy, Philadelphia.… As I read Matt Crawford’s Shop Class as Soulcraft, I thought often of Simone Weil, that young champion of the workers of the world who took it into her head to find out first hand what it

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Walkers of the World, Unite!

June 27, 2009

I’ve been accused (at least by association) by so many pomocon partisans of being pro-Obama, I’m almost starting to believe it myself. So here’s great news. Obama’s much-publicized concern about our obesity problem has spawned suggestions, yes even on national…

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Descartes, Algebra, and Alienation

June 19, 2009

Democratizing eighth-grade algebra promotes social justice. (Brookings Institution)
Money, mechanization, algebra. The three monsters of contemporary civilization. Complete analogy. (Simone Weil)
Mt. Airy, Philadelphia.… There are a lot of conspiracy theories out there, but odds are that not many raise

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Brave New World Reconsidered: A Tale of Two Gnosticisms

June 12, 2009

Many who are alarmed at the prospect of the “abolition of man” have found in Huxley’s Brave New World a dark and salutary warning – an imaginative rendering of our post-human future that, as that future continues to arrive, looks…

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The Emperor’s Old Clothes

May 28, 2009

I wonder whether anyone else finds it, if not quite ominous, at least suggestive, that the National Constitution Center is now hosting a traveling show on the Emperor Napoleon. The Center’s President and CEO, in promoting the exhibit, describes Napoleon…

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Hope we can Believe in?

May 23, 2009

If you aren’t already a fan of Rémi Brague, the most learned man alive, you will be after you read this interview with him about his new book of essays on medieval Jewish, Christian and Islamic thought. I only offer…

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New Dishwasher?

May 22, 2009

Mt. Airy, Philadelphia. …About a week ago our dishwasher started to issue a loud grinding sound from its hidden depths. After a few days I decided to call an appliance guy, and yesterday he came to have a look. Verdict:

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Why we do not own a Television

May 1, 2009

April was “Media Awareness Month” at our sons’ school. I took a couple weeks off from the Porch, and I also published a first draft of this piece in the school’s weekly newsletter.
When my wife and I met as…

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The Wise Old Œconomist

April 10, 2009

Mt. Airy, Philadelphia.… Before it became a science of supply and demand and the circulation of commodities, economics was originally understood as the wisdom of household management. The Greek word oikonomia derives from oikos (household) and nomos (the governing ordering

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Crunchy Pope, Part Two: Against Gnostic Economics

April 4, 2009

The obscuring of the faith in creation is a fundamental part of what constitutes modernity.
As I survey all the perplexing shifts in the spiritual landscape of today, only these two basic models seem to me to be up for…

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Crunchy Pope, Part 1: Body, Earth and Cosmos

March 27, 2009

Mt. Airy, Philadelphia.… Pope Benedict has recently gained a bit of credit with world media for emphasizing the urgency of addressing the environmental devastation we have wrought. This (combined with installing solar panels to make Vatican City the world’s only

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