From my new column in Taki’s Magazine:
As a Christmas present, I received the book version of The Hard Problem, the latest play by Sir Tom Stoppard. It’s the great Tory playwright’s first new work for the stage since his Rock ’n’ Roll in 2006. …
I’ve been reading Stoppard’s plays for forty years now. Despite the new work’s seemingly forbidding highbrow subject matter—the title refers to the “hard problem of consciousness” formulated by philosopher David Chalmers—this may be the most lucid and serene of all of Stoppard’s works. It’s not as ambitious or as emotionally resonant as Stoppard’s 1993 masterpiece Arcadia, but then what play is? Nonetheless, it offers the most straightforward introduction to Stoppard’s work since his 1982 romantic dramedy The Real Thing, which preceded his turn toward science as subject matter in the late 1980s.
The bickering neurobiologists of The Hard Problem return to the moral philosophy questions—Does God exist? What is virtue? How can free will be reconciled with the study of nature and nurture? Can altruism exist without consciousness?—that were argued with such manic wit by rival academic philosophers in his 1972 farce Jumpers.
Read the whole thing there.