Steve Cotler

Steve Cotler

Category Archives: Philosophy


I very much admire and agree with the comment made by my daughter, Emily Cotler, about a photo taken by her friend, Lisa Boscia Bouillerce. Wow. I imagine myself in ancient Athens, or ancient Wales, or some other place thick with polytheistic mythology… Looking at this, of course that’s a Sun God, or some ominous […]

Admitting Writers and Artists to Harvard

The following essay is taken without alteration from Harvard Magazine’s current issue. I reprint it without comment because its clarity and persuasiveness require none. Read and reflect. *     *     *     *     * Porter University Professor Helen Vendler, a  preeminent poetry critic, has served on Harvard College’s undergraduate admissions committee. Given contemporary admissions processes and pressures, […]

Craft vs. Creativity

“With the coming of the Industrial Revolution, craftsmanship dissolved miserably into creativity.” In his shop beside the flour mill, the cooper spoke flatly and firmly, with no correction possible. It was Colonial Williamsburg, and my daughter Emily and I were breaking our cross-country drive with a hot summer’s day walk into 18th-century Virginia.

Thinking About Artificial Intelligence

What is life? Or consciousness? Or intelligence? Or self-awareness? Are we spiritual beings or meat machines? As a result of advances in computer technology, these eternal questions will soon (long before this century is over, IMO) be explored in ways that go further and deeper than religion, philosophy, and literature have done before. I am […]

Subprime Thinking

“It is the private trading of complex instruments that lurk in the financial shadows that worries regulators and Wall Street and that [has] created stresses in the broader economy. Economic downturns and panics have occurred before, of course. Few, however, have posed such a serious threat to the entire financial system that regulators have responded […]

Mount St. Helena

I have, in my dotage, become a Peripatetic (derived from Greek… literally “ones walking around”). The Peripatetic School was founded by Aristotle in 335 BC, so I am far from a charter member, but as with philosophy, striding about—especially to high places—affords one a wider view of the world.