love you because you are you. If I loved you for reasons then I
wouldn’t love you, but the reasons. I would have to leave you if someone
better came along.
music and novels portray a particular ideal of romantic love almost
relentlessly. Love is something that happens to you, something you fall
into even against your will or better judgement. It is something to be
experienced as good in itself and joyfully submitted to, not something
that should be questioned.
Is this person
good for me? Would I be good for them? To ask such questions would
betray a spirit of rational calculation that has no place in matters of
the heart. The only question you should be asking is whether it is the
real thing, which can be assessed by the strength of your feelings for
the other. For authentic love, no price is too great.
A group of atheists and secularists recently gathered in Southern California to talk about social and political issues. This was the first of three summits planned by the Secular Coalition for America, an advocacy group based in Washington DC.
To many, atheism—the lack of belief in a personal god or gods—may appear an entirely modern concept. After all, it would seem that it is religious traditions that have dominated the world since the beginning of recorded history.
Incredible as it may seem, the end of March marks 20 years since the release of the first film in the Matrix franchise
directed by the Wachowski siblings. This “cyberpunk” sci-fi movie was a
box office hit with its dystopian futuristic vision, distinctive
fashion sense, and slick, innovative action sequences. But it was also a
catalyst for popular discussion around some very big philosophical
The film centers on a computer
hacker, “Neo” (played by Keanu Reeves), who learns that his whole life
has been lived within an elaborate, simulated reality. This
computer-generated dream world was designed by an artificial
intelligence of human creation, which industrially farms human bodies
for energy while distracting them via a relatively pleasant parallel
reality called the “matrix.”
I HAVE a friend who teaches at a posh private school on the upper east side of Manhattan. During the glory days of high finance she saw a man in an expensive suit dropping his five-year-old son off at school. “Play to win,” he told the child. “In this life, the best bleed the suckers dry.” We figured the saddest thing about this episode was that it may have been the only time the man saw his son all day.
never stood a chance. His first mistake was looking for food alone;
perhaps things would have turned out differently if he’d been with
someone else. The second, bigger mistake was wandering too far up the
valley into a dangerous wooded area. This was where he risked running
into the Others, the ones from the ridge above the valley. At first,
there were two of them, and he tried to fight, but another four crept up
behind him and he was surrounded. They left him there to bleed to death
and later returned to mutilate his body. Eventually, nearly 20 such
killings took place, until there was no one left, and the Others took
over the whole valley.
The protagonists in this tale of blood and conquest, first told by
the primatologist John Mitani, are not people; they are chimpanzees in a
national park in Uganda. Over the course of a decade, the male chimps
in one group systematically killed every neighboring male, kidnapped the
surviving females, and expanded their territory. Similar attacks occur
in chimp populations elsewhere; a 2014 studyfound
that chimps are about 30 times as likely to kill a chimp from a
neighboring group as to kill one of their own. On average, eight males
gang up on the victim.
If such is the
violent reality of life as an ape, is it at all surprising that humans,
who share more than 98 percent of their DNA with chimps, also divide the
world into “us” and “them” and go to war over these categories?