Posted by Peter Lawler
Jacob T. Levy wonders how manly it can be to talk about manliness. And he defends the girly-men accountants and economists from what he sees as my withering attack--which, in truth, barely masked my status envy.
I believe that Jacob makes all the right points. As a part-time philosopher, I sometimes look upon with shame the time wasted pontificating manliness. Men don't talk; men do. The best men I know (and I don't mean in the low sense, but the highest sense of hard-working, protective, loving, etc) have probably never had a conversation about "manliness" in their life.
Now I do not mean to exclude philosophers from the realms of manliness, but we must admit that a man ought to be judged more by action than word.
To an extent the assertive manliness of Mansfield could be seen as the pagaen ideal rather than the Christian. By reviving the Greek man with an over-emphasis on a particular part of his man, Mansfield left little room for meekness, service, peace, and even love. Mansfield's man is more of a selfish monster who at times does what appears to be good for questionable reasons (ie glory). If the meek inherit the earth, Mansfield's man shall die in selfish poverty. If those who mourn are comforted, Mansfield's man will die without friendship. If those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are filled, Mansfield's man will go hungry. And if the poor in spirit shall enter the kingdom of heaven, Mansfield's man will most likely see the gates of hell.
Of course I suppose Peter has the hole card since anyone arguing against Mansfield/Peter's man has already succumbed to talking about manliness, but how else could a peacemaker hope to spread his beliefs.
With a somewhat different emphasis, Clint, I actually share your criticism of "Greek man," even the philosophic version thereof. And so I agree with Thomas Aquinas' criticism/corretion of the Aristotelian virtue of magnanimity. Mansfield himself, though, is more critical of manliness than you or Jacob seem to see. I also have nothing against talking about manliness, although it's surely not manly.
I guess that I just fail to see how Mansfield critiques manliness. Sure he isn't some crazy Achilles Greek, but I see very little space for Christianity in Mansfield's interpretation of man. Going a step farther, however, I wonder if there is room for Christianity in any discussion of "manliness."
Regardless, I would appreciate an example to consider from Mansfield where he critiques the Greek Man.
Manfield criticizes manliness mainly from the view of the realism characteristic of women (who have to live with and get to laugh at manly exaggeration) and the courageous transcendence of self-concern of the philosopher. I myself add, as you (Clint) would, a more telling criticism of the Greek misunderstanding of the true foundation of personal significance or dignity from the Christians.
Ashbrook Center at Ashland University | 401 College Avenue | Ashland, Ohio 44805 | (419) 289-5411 | (877) 289-5411 (Toll Free)