An international quarterly magazine of politics, culture, literature and the arts published at Skidmore College
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Marilynne Robinson in conversation with Seyla Benhabib at the Arguing Belief and Unbelief Symposium at Skidmore College — a special feature on the symposium is out now in Salmagundi #200
Salmagundi #200-201 Features a Symposium on “Belief & Unbelief: Faith, Facts, Politics & Ideology”
November 29, 2018

“That’s the greater truth: when you have a conception of the holy, and then you run against experience or thought that so radically questions the assumptions you have that you’ll have to abandon them. This is when you proceed to a better understanding of reality… . There is supposed to be an absence of knowledge, an acceptance of the failure of understanding. That’s the thrill.” — Marilynne Robinson

Take part in a rich and absorbing conversation about “Belief & Unbelief” with Marilynne Robinson, James Carroll, Akeel Bilgrami, Mary Gordon, James Wood, Kwame Anthony Appiah, James Miller, Orlando Patterson and many others.

For this unprecedented “Belief & Unbelief” symposium, an extraordinary cast of writers and thinkers address themselves to questions that bear upon the most basic aspects of our lives, questions that involve our fate as “modern” men and women and the discontents we must learn to live with. Inspiring, or informing, discussion is Phillip Rieff’s suggestion, in The Triumph of the Therapeutic, that there is, at the center of our culture, an “openness to possibility in which nothing remains true.” Also central to our discussions, Alasdair MacIntyre’s powerful arguments, in After Virtue, that all beliefs, so called, now largely rest upon “a set of arbitrary prohibitions,” that each of us is condemned to be “his own moral authority,” and that the artworks we most admire are “individualist fictions” reflecting the “absence of shared standards or virtues or goods.”

This special feature in Salmagundi #200-201 is full of lively, searching, unexpected and sometime contentious conversations about “Faith, Doubt, Atheism, Obedience,” “Prejudice and Commitment,” “The Meaning of ‘Belief’ and ‘Unbelief’ in Literature,” “Bien-Pensant Liberalism,” “Relativism & Truth-Telling” and “Ideology as Belief: Dangers and Distortions.” Click on Current Issue above to purchase a copy of the new issue or SUBSCRIBE to Salmagundi and begin your subscription with this characteristically eclectic number of Salmagundi that in addition to the symposium contains columns on art, film, politics and culture as well as new fiction, book reviews and poetry.

True Believer: My Friendship with Cynthia Ozick

The Shipwrecked Mind:

On Political Reaction


Conducting the Light and The Dark

A Note on Jason Molina

“The wingspan of your voice … / Cannot be taken down”

In Memory of Lucie Brock-Broido

A Possum Entering the Argument

Salmagundi No. 162-163, (2009)

London. High Summer.

Salmagundi No. 176 (2012)

Water Damage

Salmagundi 158/159, 2009

Porch Steps

Salmagundi No. 124-125, 1999-2000

Commas, Dashes, Ellipses, Full Stops, Question Marks

Salmagundi No. 197-198, Winter - Spring 2018


Ezra Pound at St. Elizabeth’s