Mark Lilla is Professor of the Humanities at Columbia University and a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books. His research has focused on critics of the modern Enlightenment, beginning in the early eighteenth century (G.B. Vico: The Making of an Anti-Modern, 1994) and running through the present (The Reckless Mind, 1993, and The Stillborn God: Religion, Politics, and the Modern West, 2007).
He is currently writing a book called Ignorance and Bliss, which is a reflection on why certain thinkers living in different epochs have concluded, contra Socrates, that the examined life may not be worth living. Among the themes explored are the idealisation of innocence and the belief that it might be recovered; the fear that curiosity will destroy social bonds and render human beings weak and less spontaneous; and the conviction that intellectual inquiry renders those who conduct it skeptical and melancholic. The book is, so to speak, an archeology of ignorance.