Mark Shiffman

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Mark Shiffman was born in north Florida to the son of expatriated New York secular Jews and the daughter of small town, pillar of the community southern Presbyterians. After spending much of his childhood in Alaska and California, he discovered in his Tennessee adolescence, first reluctantly and then gratefully, that more than half his heart belonged to the South. He occasionally rediscovers this viscerally when his body descends below the Mason-Dixon line from his northern exile in Philadelphia, where he has also brought his wife into exile from her lifelong home of Chicago. They live in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia with their two sons, having moved from one of the more successfully racially integrated neighborhoods in America (Hyde Park) to one of the most. Mark received his education from the McCallie School in Chattanooga and the surrounding mountains and trees, St. John’s College in Annapolis and the Santa Fe desert, Pendle Hill outside Philadelphia and the woods around Crum Creek, the University of Chicago and the icy prairie winds, and the Catholic Worker House and grimy streets of New York City. He is assistant professor in the Department of Humanities and Augustinian Traditions and affiliate faculty member in Classical Studies at Villanova University. He has also taught at Brooklyn College, Notre Dame, the University of Chicago and the University of Pennsylvania. His current projects include books on the political philosophy of Plutarch and on the meaning of modern individualism, as well as a translation of Aristotle’s On the Soul (Focus Press).

Recent Essays

Love in the Void: A New Collection of Simone Weil’s Writings

This selection of writings aims to make manifest to the reader Simone Weil’s “intensity in the pursuit of truth” and the “sense of the...

The Paganization and Dehumanization of the University

Radnor Township, PA This past Friday, I led a lunch discussion with students at the University of Chicago who had read my First Things article  “Majoring...

The Loss of a Culture of Personhood and the End of Limited Government

Philadelphia, PA The idea and practice of limited government begins with Christianity.  Pagan antiquity could not imagine such a thing, because there was no distinction...

What You Need to Know About Simone Weil

Born in 1909 to secular Jewish Parisians, at age 10 Simone Weil was memorizing Racine and marching in labor union protests.  She attended the...

Thoughts on Statesmanship in a Season of Dearth

One may notice in this election cycle a certain amount of talk about statesmanship – primarily because each of the candidates is thought to...

The Banks we Deserve, the Economy we can Sustain

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...

Phillip Blond at Villanova

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

9-11 and the Cloud of Overwhelming Force

Mt. Airy, Philadelphia, 9-11-09. Eight years ago today, and in the days immediately following, Americans found themselves bewildered. An unprecedented mood had...

Dirty Hands, Clean Mind

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...

Walkers of the World, Unite!

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...

Descartes, Algebra, and Alienation

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. ...

Brave New World Reconsidered: A Tale of Two Gnosticisms

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...