Philosophy & Ideas

On the Good Life

Nobody with intellectual pretensions, even the slightest, wants to be called a dilettante. It is the very assassin-word of character and motive. Related social roles such as those of the dandy and the flâneur seem, for all their solitary hauteur, to evade social censure; not so the dilettante, with his snobbish patina of privilege. Dilettante is the sound of the upper classes braying for its rights. But could it be that one man’s dilettante is another man’s dabbler? G.K. Chesterton, author of the essay “On Lying in Bed” (the Oblomovian title of which seems to suggest that he himself was…

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