Charles Taylor

No Easy Answers

WHEN BERNARD WILLIAMS died, in 2003, the loss was felt well beyond the refined world of academic philosophy. In a succession ofobituaries and affectionate memorial events at Cambridge, Oxford,and Berkeley, distinguished contemporaries from many fields testified to the inspiration he had given them. All spoke of his terrifying brilliance, his dazzling speed of mind and extraordinary range of understanding, his zest and his glittering wit.

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Air America

Editor’s Note: Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout was convicted last November of four counts of conspiracy to kill U.S. citizens and provide material support to terrorists. Last week, Bout’s lawyer filed papers requesting that the judge dismiss the indictment—and cited this January 2006 TNR article as a reason. “As a result of the embarrassing New Republic disclosure of the incompetence—or worse—of the Departments of Defense and State in their dealings with Bout, someone in the government decided it was time to ‘get’ Viktor Bout,” the lawyer wrote.

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God's Pragmatist

Varieties of Religion Today: William James Revisited by Charles Taylor (Harvard University Press, 127 pp., $19.95) The recent blizzard of pragmatism has produced many discussions about William James, but there is one side of James that has been almost programmatically neglected. It is a side of James that James himself cherished, and it provides the great reason for so much of what he wrote, for so much of his philosophical pluralism, and for his campaign against idealism.

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Even for the Clinton administration, it was an extraordinary lie. “The United States did not pressure anybody to sign this agreement,” State Department spokesman Philip Reeker proclaimed at a press briefing in early June. “We neither brokered the Lomé peace agreement nor leaned on Sierra Leonean President Kabbah to open talks with the insurgents... It was not an agreement of ours.” Observers were stunned.

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