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A few weeks ago, I watched an episode of comedian Hasan Minaj’s Netflix show, Patriot Act. In each 20-minute episode, Minaj takes a popular topic like immigration or Amazon’s dark side and engages his audience with thoughtful commentary, running jokes, and an array of images, video clips, and social media posts.
The show itself is a window into 21st-century America: We value original, unbiased observation on underexplored issues in our culture. But we get distracted easily, so we want this social commentary to come with a blizzard of fast-moving visual cues. By a comedian. On an online streaming channel. In 20 minutes.
Society - Stanford - Professors - Conversation - Refuse
In this frenzied, always-on society, two Stanford professors have rekindled an ancient conversation. Is it better to slow down, refuse to enter the rat race of activity and accomplishment, and let ourselves thoughtfully rest? This is the contemplative life—the vita contemplativa. Or, on the other hand, should our lives be given to building and improving society through work toward the common good—the vita activa?
Simply put, is it better to do or to be?
Action - Versus - Contemplation - Ancient - Debate
In Action versus Contemplation: Why an Ancient Debate Still Matters, Jennifer Summit (who is now at San Francisco State) and Blakey Vermeule present us with the deep roots beneath this question, showing that ours is not the first society to wrestle with its implications.
University of Chicago Press (2018). 256 pp. $25.
Debate - Impact - World - Action - Versus
It is truly an ancient debate: Is it better to be active or contemplative? To do or to think? To make an impact, or to understand the world more deeply? With Action versus Contemplation, Jennifer Summit and Blakey Vermeule address the question in a refreshingly unexpected way: by refusing to take sides. Rather, they argue for a rethinking of the very opposition. The active and the contemplative can—and should—be vibrantly alive in each of us, fused rather than...
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