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This week, ARTNews reported a bit of undoubtedly good news for lovers of the Dutch Golden age—scholars and laymen alike. The collectors Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo and Susan and Matthew Weatherbie recently donated 113 Dutch and Flemish Golden Age works to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston—the largest gift of European paintings in the museum’s history. The collectors have also donated funding for a research library that will become a Center for Netherlandish Art at the MFA. This center will ensure the gift’s importance to the academic world, while a conditional requirement that 85 percent of the collection be on view at all times—whether in Boston or elsewhere—will simultaneously ensure its accessibility to the broader public.
“Philosophers who like stuff: Their case against frugality”
Emrys Westacott, Humanities
Though many high-profile philosophers and religious figures throughout the ages have tended to hold critical stances towards material wealth—think of the moralistic frugality preached by Jesus, Plato, Thoreau, Lao Tze, and many others—less-discussed “intellectual countercurrents” on the issue have existed since ancient times. Emrys Westacott’s feature in the fall issue of Humanities examines the philosophers who take a more even-keeled (and perhaps realistic) approach to wealth and luxury, among them Aristotle, Mandeville, Samuel Johnson, and Voltaire. The general stance advocates for balancing between the two extremes of unproductive stinginess and avaricious decadence. Even before the promotion of self-interest by free-market theory, many philosophers understood that wealth, wisely managed, can be a force for good. After all, without the immense and unequal wealth of, for instance, the renaissance Catholic Church (which ostensibly was supposed to uphold frugality and charity as basic tenets of the institution), the West would have never produced some of the greatest works of art the world has ever seen. Westacott thoroughly reviews the history of philosophic thought on this complex and uncommonly addressed concern.
“Now even climate-change believers count as ‘deniers’”
Bjørn Lomborg, New York Post
The headline basically says it all for this article by Bjørn Lomborg, the director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center think tank. The author recounts an exchange with Chile’s environment minister, who accused him of being a climate change “denier” not for denying global warming, but merely for advocating green energy research as a more preferable approach to solving it than the Paris climate treaty. Lomborg further cites examples of Al Gore and other climate researchers and journalists practicing similar reductive name-calling strategies—yet another sign of the intellectual laziness of many on the “mainstream” side of this debate.
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