Sumptuary laws are laws directed against overindulgence or extravagance in diet, drink, and dress based on social, religious, or moral grounds. Historically, these statutes often varied according to rank and were mainly used to mark class distinctions and prevent people from assuming the appearance of a superior class. They were also used to stigmatize disfavored groups, who could be required to wear identifying apparel. How rich did one need to be to wear a belt in the Massachusetts Bay Colony?
Back in the day
In 1823, a worker repairing the roof of Rome's Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls accidentally started a fire that resulted in its almost total destruction. The church, built under Emperor Constantine in the 4th century, had retained its original character for nearly 1,500 years. Reconstruction work began almost immediately with the aim of recreating the original structure. The viceroy of Egypt contributed alabaster pillars to the rebuilding effort, while the Russian emperor sent what?
Born on a day like today
Derrida was an Algerian-born French philosopher whose critique of Western philosophy encompasses literature, linguistics, and psychoanalysis. In his famously dense and complex writings, he attempted to take apart, or "deconstruct," the edifice of Western metaphysics and reveal what he deemed its incompatible foundations. His thought is based on his disapproval of the search for an ultimate metaphysical certainty. Why was Derrida so controversial among many of his fellow philosophers?