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The OLL blog explores the fascinating, vital, and often surprising texts and people that fill our library. Come talk in our library!

John Milton—Secret Fan of The Crown?

By: Daniel Ross Goodman

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For those of you who, like me, became hooked on Netflix’s award-winning drama about Queen Elizabeth II and the modern British monarchy during the Covid lockdown (or, in my case, shortly thereafter), the end of The Crown was somewhat bittersweet. 

OLL’s May Birthday: Friedrich von Gentz (May 2, 1764 – June 9, 1832)

By: Peter Carl Mentzel

This May’s Birthday Essay is in honor of the political journalist and statesman Friedrich Gentz. Though born a commoner, he called himself von Gentz after he was knighted by the Swedish crown in 1804. Gentz made an intellectual…

Shaftesbury’s Theory of a “Moral Sense” Sets the Direction of the British Enlightenment (Part 11)

By: Walter Donway

“T’was Mr. Locke that struck all fundamentals, threw all order and virtue out of the world...” Lord Shaftesbury

Shaftesbury’s Theory of a “Moral Sense” Sets the Direction of the British Enlightenment (Part 1)

By: Walter Donway

The moral sense is “predominant...inwardly joined to us, and implanted in our nature...a first principle in our constitution...” Lord Shaftesbury

“Farmer Refuted”

By: Anna Leman

Hamilton: An American Musical features an epic standoff between young, fiery Hamilton and bold, preachy Samuel Seabury in “Farmer Refuted.” In their musical sparring match, Hamilton “tears the dude apart,” with his defense of the…

Bayle’s Dictionary: #1 Bestseller in the 18th Century

By: Walter Donway

“In matters of religion, it is very easy to deceive a man and very hard to undeceive him.” --Pierre Bayle

Decent People, Bad Institutions

By: Bill Glod

Consider the following: a major United States city has witnessed a recent upswing in violent crime. Generally, U.S. crime levels are still much lower than their peak in the early 90’s, but many residents perceive their city has…

The Logic of Desire: From Homer’s Odyssey to Alice in Wonderland

By: Alexander Schmid

When one idly day-dreams one frequently imagines how things might be different. What if the clouds were red? What if I had a million dollars, tax-free? What if I did not have to wake up at 5 a.m. during the week? Generally, one…

OLL’s April Birthday: Hugo Grotius (10 April 1583 – 28 August 1645)

By: Peter Carl Mentzel

April’s OLL Birthday essay is in honor of the Dutch political philosopher Hugo de Groot, Latinized as Grotius. Sometimes referred to as “the father of Natural Law,” his writings can be seen as marking the origins of Natural Law…

Some Reading while You Wait for the Eclipse

By: OLL Editor

The Reading Room crew is eagerly anticipating today's eclipse, as watchers of the skies have done for centuries. We've gathered a list of links to the OLL and elsewhere for you to explore while you're waiting for totality.

Social Coercion in Libertopia

By: Bill Glod

James moves to the small town of Libertopia, where property rights are respected with perfect consistency. There is no force or fraud. Contracts are still normally in writing but handshakes uphold deals reliably. One can leave one’s…

Evil In Plato’s Republic and Dante’s Paradiso

By: Alexander Schmid

In Plato's Republic, Socrates confidently asserts to Glaucon, Plato’s older brother, that evil cannot be done consciously, or rationally, for one doing evil believes himself to be doing good, and one cannot do evil to another,…
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