What We Are Reading Today: The Art of Philosophy by Susanna Berger

Updated 20 February 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: The Art of Philosophy by Susanna Berger

  • The Art of Philosophy shows that the making and study of visual art functioned as important methods of philosophical thinking and instruction

Delving into the intersections between artistic images and philosophical knowledge in Europe from the late 16th to the early 18th centuries, The Art of Philosophy shows that the making and study of visual art functioned as important methods of philosophical thinking and instruction. From frontispieces of books to monumental prints created by philosophers in collaboration with renowned artists, Susanna Berger examines visual representations of philosophy and overturns prevailing assumptions about the limited function of the visual in European intellectual history.

Rather than merely illustrating already-existing philosophical concepts, visual images generated new knowledge for both Aristotelian thinkers and anti-Aristotelians, such as Descartes and Hobbes. Printmaking and drawing played a decisive role in discoveries that led to a move away from the authority of Aristotle in the 17th century. Berger interprets visual art from printed books, student lecture notebooks, alba amicorum (friendship albums), broadsides, and paintings, and examines the work of such artists as Pietro Testa, Léonard Gaultier, Abraham Bosse, Dürer, and Rembrandt.

In particular, she focuses on the rise and decline of the “plural image,” a genre that was popular among early modern philosophers. Plural images brought multiple images together on the same page, often in order to visualize systems of logic, metaphysics, natural philosophy, or moral philosophy.


What We Are Reading Today: The British are Coming by Rick Atkinson

Updated 56 min 35 sec ago
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What We Are Reading Today: The British are Coming by Rick Atkinson

  • The British Are Coming “is a tale of heroes and knaves, of sacrifice and blunder, of redemption and profound suffering”

Rick Atkinson’s flair for the colorful detail of a country at war is demonstrated again in The British are Coming.

“This is a remarkable history of the first two years of the American Revolution. The research is deep and the topics covered are broad,” said a review published in goodreads.com.

The narrative “is told in chronological order making it easy to follow the events as they unfolded and making the connections between various dimensions clear to see. One gets a clear understanding of the context that underlies the action taken by both sides in the early years of the conflict,” it added.

Atkinson’ prose “is outstanding and makes the read pleasurable. It should be known by prospective readers that this is not just a military history; it is very much as well a fascinating political and cultural look at the times,” the review added. 

It said The British Are Coming “is a tale of heroes and knaves, of sacrifice and blunder, of redemption and profound suffering.”

Atkinson is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and historian who worked for 25 years as a correspondent and editor for The Washington Post.