• Montaigne “On Cruelty”: A Close Reading of a Classic Essay

    Created August 3, 2015

    Montaigne “On Cruelty”: A Close Reading of a Classic Essay

    About the Author

    Michel de Montaigne (1533–1592), one of the most consequential writers of all time, was born into the French aristocracy and educated in the Latin and Greek classics at home by his father. Later, he studied law, became a distinguished public servant, and even advised several French kings. After the death of his father in 1571, Montaigne retired from public service to devote himself to reading and writing.

    Camus’ “The Myth of Sisyphus”: A Close Reading of the Absurd

    Background | Reading The Myth of Sisyphus | About the authors | About the image

    No one who lives in the sunlight makes a failure of his life. Albert Camus, Notebooks

  • Launchpad: “Fear and Trembling” by Søren Kierkegaard

    Created January 26, 2015

    Launchpad: “Fear and Trembling” by Søren Kierkegaard

    “Generally people are of the opinion that what faith produces is not a work of art, that it is coarse and common work, only for the more clumsy natures; but in fact this is far from the truth. The dialectic of faith is the finest and most remarkable of all; it possesses an elevation, of which indeed I can form a conception, but nothing more. I am able to make from the springboard the great leap whereby I pass into infinity, my back is like that of a tight-rope dancer, having been twisted in my childhood, hence I find this easy; with a one-two-three!

  • Launchpad: “The Grand Inquisitor” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

    Created January 14, 2015

    Launchpad: “The Grand Inquisitor” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

    By Ed Marks and Dan Cummings, revised by Joe Phelan

    About the Author

    In the spring of 1849, Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821–1881) faced a Russian firing squad. He had been accused of the political crime of promoting utopian socialism, a popular ideology that threatened the deeply conservative government of Czar Nicholas I. Just as the order was being given to the firing squad to shoot, a messenger appeared with an edict from the Czar commuting the sentence to four years of hard labor in Siberia.

    What’s the Big Idea?

    This Massachusetts Humanities website provides teachers and middle-school students with the opportunity to engage in a range of philosophical discussions.

    Muslims walking in NYC with American flags

    Religious Worlds of New York: The Everyday Life of American Religious Diversity

    This site is the product of the Religious Worlds institute, a project of the Interfaith Center of New York and Union Theological Seminary, with support from the NEH. The site offers an array of lesson plans, curriculum idea, and professional development based on NEH Summer Institutes for School Teachers that delve into the doctrines of the world's major religions and encourage academically grounded engagement with the social realities of contemporary religious communities.