Despite the irony, cynicism and calculation that govern the making and selling of art, viewers remain drawn to works that seem to come from “beyond”—such as so-called outsider art, the work of autistic or mentally ill individuals. Academic, philosopher and writer Mark Lilla discusses this long-held fascination and its roots in primitive religion and ancient philosophy. A professor of humanities at Columbia University, Lilla specializes in intellectual history, with a particular focus on Western political and religious thought. He has taught in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago and at New York University. A regular contributor to The New York Review of Books, he is also the author of The Stillborn God: Religion, Politics, and the Modern West (Knopf, 2007), The Reckless Mind: Intellectuals in Politics (New York Review Books, 2001) and G.B. Vico: The Making of an Anti-Modern (Harvard University Press, 1993). He also edited The Legacy of Isaiah Berlin (New York Review Books, 2001), with Ronald Dworkin and Robert Silvers, and The Public Face of Architecture (Free Press, 1987), with Nathan Glazer. He is currently writing a book titled Ignorance and Bliss and another on the history of the idea of conversion. Presented by the BFA Visual & Critical Studies Department.