From President Truman’s initiation of war against North Korea in June 1950, presidents have exceeded constitutional and statutory authority in exercising the war power.
Under Polanyi’s revolutionary imaginary, we are deeply, even constitutionally, committed to truth. But in the “commitment to commitment” that Grene correctly perceives at the core of Polanyi, we are committed to some content.
On its face, the promotion of tolerance, like the promotion of multiculturalism, is unobjectionable and even praiseworthy. Multicultural tolerance, however, has little in common with the traditional Western virtue beyond a shared name.
The inhabitants of utopia, their creators insist, are happy. But their lives are depicted as so relentlessly public, so entirely ordered and uneventful that their posited felicity is not something that many readers would willingly share.
Hawthorne’s tale is a finely crafted, perspicuous representation of aporia, that befuddlement or confusion. This is the kind of world we live in, and these are the kinds of creatures we are.
Rawls operates with a decision procedure for ethics that keeps corroborating the same moral outlook, a liberal one, whereas the objectivity he claims for the procedure might reasonably have been expected to be consistent with a wider range of moral, social, or political perspectives, or perhaps with a single position equidistant to polar extremes.
This "most readable" of medieval authors was fascinated by execution. Why?
The Intellectual Kinship of Irving Babbitt and C. S. Lewis: Will and Imagination in That Hideous Strength
According to Lewis scholar Alister McGrath, “From about 1937, Lewis seems to have appreciated that the imagination is the gatekeeper of the human soul.”
If America seeks a future inspired by the virtues of its past, then it must derive inspiration not merely from the founders but also from the Hebraic and Roman Republics.
The Romantics’ value pluralism anchored in virtue ethics is not an abstraction but a concrete negotiation with a world that is by turns beautiful, baffling, and outrageous.
Emerson sees his work as an extension of Plato's.
The student’s psyche must approach its beloved (the beautiful) with reverence, and under the discipline of the intellect.
Decision Procedures, Moral Philosophy, and Despair: The Response of Virtue Ethics and the Connoisseur
The problem is that Ryn, like others who have become desperate, must assume that those who do not read the situation in the same pessimistic light are blinded by some intellectual or moral flaw.
Ryn asks the right questions but errs in his endorsement of Machiavelli. Machiavelli is not a tradition-minded "realist" but a political ideologue and a moral revolutionary.
The cries of righteous indignation that I can hear show the force of ingrained habit. How could universality possibly express itself in particularity? This is surely “relativism,” “solipsism,” “historicism,” “nihilism” “situationism”! This reaction points to the need for rethinking not just morality but epistemology.
The dysfunction stems, in large part, from the fact that the Senate no longer performs one of the important functions for which the Framers created it.
Eric Voegelin does not offer us a formula but a temperate and mystery-respecting philosophy of consciousness.
There are people who, like Walton, will attempt to transform the state into an unrealistic paradisiacal land.
It is possible, then, to argue that Hayek’s basic formulas are defective in that they try to disconnect social policies from a moral order that transcends individual self-interest narrowly understood.
According to proponents, these new standards are “research and evidence based,” seemingly taking for granted that empirical data alone could provide sufficient warrant for the Common Core’s one-size-fits-all educational goals.
Though Bernardi cites authorities as disparate as Sam Francis and Dinesh D’Souza, the author of 'The Conservative Revolution' is neither a paleoconservative nor a neoconservative.
Power Without Limits: The Allure of Political Idealism and the Crumbling of American Constitutionalism
For the framers of the U.S. Constitution no task seemed more important than to limit and tame power.
The Constitution cannot survive unless its conservative-liberal synthesis is respected and celebrated by all parties.
The story of the states that tarried in ratifying the Constitution helps us put an appropriate emphasis where the framers intended: on the State Conventions.
During the Protests We praise the clink...
Utopia provides the earliest antidote to utopian ideology, which it subtly ridicules by the ironic deployment of stylistic variation.
Herder’s goal was to work against social fragmentation and contribute to restoring the human being to its “original unity,” which comprised more than the sum of its individual parts.
Few parents raise their children from infancy to assume a specific occupation or role in life. Fewer still raise them to be radical reformers. This, however, is precisely what James Mill did with his first-born child, John Stuart Mill.
St. Augustine and Karl Jaspers wrote about humanity as a whole, humankind, the human race—not only everyone around the world, but throughout time, the past and the future, in one shared purpose.
The rebel does not understand his sense of justice as subjective and arbitrary but as universal and authoritative.
In Qatar, my students are perplexed by this fixation American students have about eliminating suffering on a global scale. And they cannot quite escape the suspicion that something more than charity is at work in the minds of the Americans they meet.
The conflict between advocates of the free market and traditionalist conservatives dates from the beginning of the modern conservative movement. Never have traditionalists and classical liberals comfortably shared the same space.
The mainstay of the Turkish modernizatio...
Introduction It is a truism, but none...
The national debt is roughly 100 percent of our gross national product, and the people who lend to the federal government are beginning to worry that they will not get their money back. Yet without continuous borrowing, the nation cannot possibly sustain its accustomed lifestyle. Something has got to give.
Much has been written in the past centur...
As such, the human world, for Sartre, is nothing but the aggregate of self-creating human beings.
Bacon asked that Nature be “put to the rack” and forced to reveal her secrets.
The hustling and corruption which I once celebrated as a sort of shady virtue that helped explain America’s spectacular growth now appear to me as a vice and, at its worst, a sin whose wages are death.
Because these hostile ideologies rest on opposing (and unexamined) “abstract principles,” contemporary political discourse is usually shrill and fruitless.
Shakespeare has the Duke stage a brilliant Machiavellian parody of the extremes of the Christian apocalyptic expectation of rewards and punishments by demonstrating their political usefulness.
Reflection on the Old Testament diplomatic traditions could provide the starting point for a return to a more sober foreign policy.
When and why did I begin to bristle under the rigid codes of belief and behavior imposed by American politics, academics, and culture?
Perhaps its unsparing analysis of the psychology of utopian reformers still strikes a little too close to home for it to make its way onto reading lists at most schools and colleges.
Marshall vs. Jefferson Then and Now: How the Intellectual and Political Struggle Over the Constitution Resonates Today
Clear and irreconcilable differences in the political and constitutional philosophies of Jefferson and Marshall sparked heated debate over such monumental issues as the use of judicial review over acts of Congress and the development of the doctrine of “implied powers.”
It is upon small-scale values and practices—not the abstractions of cosmopolitanism or “global thinking”—that the literal survival of the world depends.
Among tall aspen—leafy, elegant—and spruce, severe, the road has crested over Willow Creek Pass,
Civilization stands or falls with those who set the tone in society. Are they proper models for emulation? Do they inspire others to realize their better selves, or are they schemers manipulating others for their own benefit?
McIntire’s study would have been better had the author provided a stronger historical context, but this deficiency should not obscure the fact that this is an impressive work of scholarly research and textual analysis. Herbert Butterfield is not a typical biography; rather, it is an analysis and explication of the subject’s intellectual achievement.
Though not a student of the history of t...
Emerson scholars have long noted the ubi...
At its core, the emphasis on communal perfection seeks to quell the religious anxiety generated by a faith that is demanding, uncertain, and absolutist in its claims.
Justice’s enemies, both Ancient and Modern, were not entirely wrong.
In an ironic turn, the highly imaginative Rousseau worries about arousing the imagination of his pupil. He regards the imagination as “the most active of all” the faculties, but also highly undesirable.
March 1, 2012, will mark the 175th anniv...
Yet an historical perspective reveals that the conflict over the family may only be beginning and that we may be on the verge of a wider confrontation that will decide not only the survival of the family but fundamental questions about the scope and nature of the modern state.
From Edmund Burke and Joseph de Maistre in the eighteenth century through such twentieth-century critics as Lewis Mumford, Karl Popper, and Isaiah Berlin, the utopian concept of a rationally planned or dirigiste society is viewed as one of reason’s most nightmarish monsters.
In a non-didactic manner, the film offers a lesson that our time badly needs to learn: that all is not gold that glimmers.
Many who have heard Reagan's words have not really listened to them. They have taken away vague impressions of his rhetoric and have not fully understood the meaning and significance of what he actually said.
While animals cannot reason, plan for the future, or think through a long-range plan of action, people can and should engage in these actions. Why should we choose to act like animals when we can choose not to and when we can create an environment in which acting like animals is unnecessary?
The idea that war might somehow be mediated by reasonable agreements, heroic values of resistance, and religious scruples, such as those governing the burial of the dead, has been reduced to a shambles by the internal dynamics of war and the logic of violence itself.
I contend that Žižek does not deliver the insights that he repeatedly promises. I propose to subject one of his works Did Somebody Say Totalitarianism? to close examination.
The relationship between tradition and modernity has been a central theme of postcolonial African philosophy. While African philosophers have examined this theme from many angles, several basic questions have become the focus of ongoing debate and discussion: What is the relevance of indigenous African traditions to the challenges of contemporary life?
Ultimately, it is this reverence, this humility before God, and this faith in the goodness of life that are at the heart of Panichas’s long and productive career, and that also underlie the sort of conservatism that he has defended so admirably over the course of the past four decades.
Over a long and accomplished career, Peter J. Stanlis has often worked at the intersection of literature, philosophy, and political philosophy, and this emphasis is evident in Robert Frost: The Poet as Philosopher, a study that explores Frost’s relationship to developments in the sciences, the humanities, and politics from the age of Charles Darwin to the time of John F. Kennedy’s presidency.
After Mill discovered Romantic poetry he decided to abandon the “mere reasoning machine” that was his old self—and he emerged from this period a changed man.
Liberalism “is now fading out of the wor...
It should also be stated that, needless to say, the socalled conservative movement has had many admirable features. Some of its members resisted the trends that brought it to its present low point. Unfortunately, as it tries to recover, it may ignore those voices again and repeat its old mistakes.
“The Last and Brightest Empire of Time”: Timothy Dwight and America as Voegelin’s “Authoritative Present,” 1771-1787
His orations, sermons, and poems in the last third of the eighteenth century—during the critical years of the nation’s founding—reveal a framework of thought that situated America as the endpoint toward which all prior history had been tending.
A careful reading of Kundera’s observations about the novel suggests that they do not quite cross the border to unmeaning, but in any case it is the novels themselves that embody the deeper insight, as the author himself would no doubt cheerfully concede.
As in his previous work, Gottfried is critical of the neoconservative project. Gottfried attributes the neoconservatives’ success mostly to their relentless self-promotion and what in the business world is called cross-selling, massive fundraising efforts, and their close ideological (and, in some cases, personal) connections with the liberal establishment.
Only these figures, their inner lives properly regulated, are meant by nature to rule the rest, just as the head rules the body. “A multitude,” Plato asserts, “cannot be philosophical,” a capacity reserved for a select few.
There is much that is still alive in Santayana’s philosophical explication of Goethe’s Faust, especially Goethe’s appeal to the understanding to be derived from phenomena themselves.
Political Theology and the Theology of Politics: Carl Schmitt and Medieval Christian Political Thought
The Medieval understanding of theology and politics, rooted in Exodus, exceeds the limiting categories Carl Schmitt provides.
How does Locke understand language and its role in conveying information and meaning between persons?
His noetic mysticism makes him better equipped to transcend the ideological deformations of modernity and the Islamic world. Yet his mysticism is ultimately solitary, making it insufficient to accomplish its task.
Unlike most other texts, the “classics” have the potential to upend our typical modes of understanding, challenge our baser impulses, and confound our historically and culturally constituted presuppositions.
Babbitt and the romantics agree that imagination is vital to the development of the educated person, but each school of thought advocates a different quality of the imagination.
While Rorty makes a sound move in attempting to defend democracy on a non-foundational basis, he goes too far in the Sophists’ direction.
The work of both Michael Polanyi and Alasdair MacIntyre contributes significantly to overcoming the problems posed by late modernity. They harbor no nostalgic illusions; neither do they believe that skepticism and despair are satisfying alternatives.
It is argued here that understanding Burke’s romanticism is an important part of understanding Burke. Understanding Burke’s romanticism also helps one understand the subtle ways in which aesthetics, ethics, and politics interact.
Because constitutional rights were synonymous with the restraints on government embodied in customary law, the greatest threat to English liberties were governmental innovations that undermined centuries-old customs.
What is conservatism? Is it simply an older version of liberalism? Which traditions do conservatives “conserve” in an age of modern change? Is conservatism populist or elitist, democratic or aristocratic?
Because of the elusiveness of Truth, Strauss is tempted to doubt the existence of universality, and he flirts with nihilism.
Frost’s perception of the continuity and unity in historical events came to him through an intuition, or revelation, expressed in “Kitty Hawk”: “Then I saw it all.”
Concern about the ethical condition of m...
The very purpose of the prudential tradition is to prepare men and women with the deliberative capacity to decide how to act in such situations.
Babbitt’s influence has been substantial and salutary, and that there is a major resurgence of interest in Babbitt that may prove significant for the future of China and thus the world.
My late father, Wu Mi, had carefully kep...
Irving Babbitt, the great American humanist, was bound to the modern Chinese culture even though Babbitt himself might not have been aware of it. His erudition and glamour enticed a dozen young Chinese scholars into Harvard University to seek instruction from him.
Irving Babbitt and his intellectual ally Paul Elmer More played a crucial role in Liang’s literary battle with Lu Xun, who was everywhere regarded as China’s leading leftist or “proletarian” writer.
They were in direct opposition to the New Culture Movement led by the New Intellectuals, and it is in this sense that I consider them conservatives.
The novel’s aesthetic and interpretive complexity, it will be seen, underlines the multi-layered meaning of salvation itself, in a modern world in which salvation is not necessarily one of divine grace, of deliverance from sin and damnation, in short, of redemption in the hands of an all-powerful God.
When existence is understood as boring and burdensome, often a more dangerous rejection of reality follows.
Here are superbly imaginative treatments...
At the conclusion of his writing career, Nietzsche ironically and unintentionally ends up affirming a perspective on life that resonates with what can be termed a “Christianity of Joy.”
It follows, then, in the light of the Anthropic Principle, that, if man is to exist as a subject endowed with free will, the iniquity of nature, pain and suffering must also exist.
It is apt for Plato to describe the quar...
1. Introductory 1.0 To raise the que...
The respect which Habermas accords to Kant’s moral and political ideals is what separates his interpretation of the Kantian project from Hayek’s.
According to a perhaps naive, but still...
I went down yesterday to the River. I wa...
I shall argue, on the other hand, that Kant is not the final word on personal or political ethics. Indeed, his thought suffers from a fundamental weakness that is retained by both Habermas and Professor Day and, to a lesser degree, by Hayek.
Eric Voegelin’s treatment of Christianity is notoriously problematic.
One of the more remarkable, if controver...
I shall concentrate on four themes in Babbitt’s writings that are relevant today to the discipline of comparative literature as well as to related disciplines for which the study of literature may be more important than is generally recognized, whether or not these themes have been reflected in recent critical texts.
Sixteen hundred years ago, St. Augustine warned against the inherent idolatry of empire. To assign to one’s earthly nation the mission that by right belongs only to the Kingdom of Christ is to be guilty of the worst of disordered loves.
Mark Lilla held that for Kimball "the cause of the Sixties was quite simply . . . the Sixties. They just happened, as a kind of miracle, or antimiracle—Why did such a profound revolution take place?" In my opinion, Kimball’s reply is not entirely satisfactory.
When Thucydides’ understated but crucial role in Strauss’s thought is fully exposed, Strauss’s philosophy as a whole starts to appear differently.
I wish to take issue with Bevir’s treatment of tradition precisely because it is so utilitarian. It reduces a social reality to an amorphous material with no meaning or purpose of its own.
Not even dictatorial rule can be sustained without the grudging acceptance of a populace whose anxieties and other propensities incline them to submit rather than to rebel.
The ability of traditions to confer legitimacy on social practices helps to explain why cultural nationalists, states, and even radical movements have tried to invigorate their political projects by inventing appropriate traditions, symbols, and rituals.
Betrayal changes not only our sense of the world, but our sensibility toward the world.
Lionized in his early career by much of the historical establishment, Beard fell out of favor with his fellow liberal and progressive academics because of his opposition to the nation’s foreign policy in the years prior to World War II.
He deliberately sets out to defy Platonic Truth, worshiping the Shadows—the felt, believed, imperfect, flawed perception of touched reality. This—and nothing else—is truth, or at least the only truth that matters.
Most importantly, Ryn holds that I place such emphasis on contingency, particularity, and finitude that I have difficulty explaining the basis of the continuity and coherence, weight and responsibility, that I myself find necessary for the reconstructive middle ground.
Professor Roberts and I may have not so much a fundamental philosophical disagreement as a difference of philosophical nomenclature and emphasis. Ideas in Roberts’s thinking that are still only tentatively stated could well evolve in ways that will reveal further consonance between us.
The only way to do this properly, it seems to me, is to travel along with Homer, hitting the highlights and commenting as I go.
Transcendence understood as separate from the historical world of practice leaves the transcendent empty. It invites individuals to fill the emptiness with whatever personal desires and dreams they would like.
Augustinian Christianity is unable to sustain its own posture of radical transcendence. That position is so harsh, so immoderate, and so inhuman that it leads its advocates to succumb to an extremism of another kind.
The question of the moral and social effects of literary study is so knotty that even people who have made a career of teaching literature sometimes reverse their beliefs concerning the effects of the study of literature upon human conduct.
Formalists separate the aesthetic and the ethical. In this article I argue that moral considerations may play a decisive role in our appreciation of particular works of art.
American Beauty is a profoundly sad movie. Or one could say, as does David Denby of The New Yorker, that it is "a funny movie that hurts."
Rousseau’s political ideas were at once idealistic, “mystical,” and collectivist.
This article focuses on the relevance of early Christian writings on acedia and tristitia to the primary modern and postmodern maladies of the subject, i.e., chronic ennui, alienation, estrangement, disenchantment, angst, neurosis, etc.
The Whig party had presupposed acceptance of the basic character of the country as it was. They sought redemption only through peaceful means and through the established constitutional edifice.
Though a sine qua non for good government, according to Fabius, a strong confederation alone is insufficient to ensure that government will live up to its “sacred trust.”
The respective governments, in Budapest and Bucharest, may sign many friendship treaties: still they will not be friends, allies, cousins.
The American academy has been abuzz in recent years with a need to identify and get rid of "foundational" thinking. There are, we are told, no suprahistorical essences, no permanent ends, no enduring identities, meanings, or truths.
The older, humanistic tradition look to literature for cultural self-criticism, while the postmodernists look for reinforcement of their pre-existing impulses.
At its core, the modern moral-imaginative dynamic is a rebellion against whatever interferes with our favorite desires. It is an expression of a great self-indulgence.
The Eikones is translated and transmuted time and time again by those who wish to 'recapture' antiquity.
My own ideal, already partially fulfilled, is for my work to be made obsolete, of mere historic interest, by the much better achievements of my apprentices. That is the only way I know to surpass my own limitations.
Tate argued against both censorship by Catholic authorities and what he termed the literary "angelic imagination," advocating instead the Dantesque "symbolic imagination."
Introduction: Perennial Philosophy Histo...
In the view of many scholars, Leon Pompa...
Edmund Burke, the passionate defender of...
It is no accident that "The English Patient"—surely the best movie to come on the American screen in a very long time—chooses the Greek Herodotus as a leitmotif.
A revolt against the dual tradition of Christian and humanistic self-discipline, and the substitution of a new basis of morality, lies at the heart of the breakdown of internationalism.
Culture has been degraded to somatic gratification, from which all meaning is now derived. Politically, this requires “using threats of high treason to silence doubt” about the status of the body as a justification for reshaping politics.
Rose After the thorn I made myself su...
More than twenty years earlier as a Nebraska congressman, "The Great Commoner" had joined the struggle to free the Senate from the control of corrupt state legislatures, and despite three failed campaigns for the presidency, he never wavered in his determination to make the Senate a popularly elected body.
How can people of ostensibly sound mind tender their support for the longest-running dictatorship in the world?
Aristotle once said that “all men desire to know.” In modern philosophy, however, this “desire” has been ignored, and concern for this fundamental human experience has been replaced by a concern for epistemological consistency.
Perhaps it is no accident that reason and history, poetry, ethics, and religion are in such desperate straits in American education.
This book, despite its solid scholarship and publication by a major university press, will be ignored by the author’s own generation of academicians because it truly is radical; that is, it goes to the roots.
Neither Hobbes nor Locke said much about the transmutations of human nature in the past because they were more concerned about how it might be transformed in the future.
The prestige of historical figures rises and falls, and the tendency for the biggest to fall hardest may be especially prevalent in intellectual history. But there seems something anomalous about Croce's case, as René Wellek, the distinguished historian of criticism, recently emphasized.
Man is a creature of desires, and since these desires are the products of social and economic motives, good government is situated at the crossroads of individual desires. The focus of politics shifts from moral authority to the social contract.
Professors were the earliest victims of the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s, but we went willingly to the barricades. We were the ones to make peace with what we should have fought.
Viereck, ever audacious, gives us an account of the poet’s dying and, in consequence, of what our own might be if we could pull it off.
Many autobiographies are written with an eye toward settling old scores, but this is not one of them. These memoirs are striking because of the absence of any rancor or bitterness toward old intellectual or literary adversaries.
Careful, in-depth attention to questions of knowledge is one of the preconditions for a reinvigoration of the humanities and social sciences. In the study of man as a social and cultural being, how is knowledge obtained?
For Whigs, probably more than Democrats, literature and political rhetoric represented similar, closely related instructional devices for both individual and collective improvement. Whig literature was rarely ever for “idle” entertainment only and was almost always didactic.
When poets go wrong in this book, which they sometimes do in spectacular ways, they do so for morally comprehensible reasons. Gurney reminds us that Christian virtues can be practiced not only by pagan poets but by readers like ourselves.
On the most general level, then, his response to modernity is not unlike many others in the post-War period: a rediscovery of some form of personal moral anchor, in opposition to the surrounding sources of disorder, as a way out of the nihilism of the twentieth century.
Gray’s essential argument is for a regrounding of human social experience in history and nature. If we want to live in a society that is even minimally civilized, there is simply no room for growth without end and ever-more-expansive rights doctrines.
In Panichas’ view, the critic’s responsibility consists, first, in identifying “the highest things,” and then in articulating how this time-bound aesthetic form can function as a means of transcendent revelation.
They have every luxury and convenience and no punishment—except one. The only torture visited upon its denizens is that they must live in solitary; no debates, conversations, gossip, faction meetings, conspiracies, cross-talk, backbiting.
There are pleasures too numerous to mention within literature, the fine arts, history, mathematics, science, and philosophy. We cannot say with any assurance, however, that these pleasures will dispose the person to virtue.
Central to Federici’s analysis is the distinction he makes between competing concepts of democracy.
The intellectual power, originality and...
Moral nihilism and relativism seem not t...
There are many ways to re-read a classic...
If his work is treated at all, it is considered part of a sectional defense. Calhoun was concerned, however, with the most fundamental of political issues—the nature of society, the character of the human condition, and the structure of government.