Jaffa and the central idea
I mentioned a few weeks ago that the Old Man is going to be 93 on October 7th and that a good way to celebrate his birthday would be to bring to our attention something interesting by him or about him. So I note this Master's Thesis, Increased Devotion: Equality, the American Founding, and Abraham Lincoln
, by Sara Whitis. It is on how to understand equality, the thing that both defines us, and about which we have disagreed--arguably--from the beginning. She asserts that no scholar of the 20th or 21st century "has more thoroughly and thoughtfully" explored the subject of equality and its implications for our political life than Jaffa. She then explores his writings, emphasizing Crisis of the House Divided
and A New Birth of Freedom,
and says this: "These books themselves add to the legacy of Americans' disagreements over their central idea, because between Crisis
and New Birth,
a profound shift takes place in Jaffa's understanding of the meaning of equality in the Founding." She explores the journey of his thinking and with graceful intellect interprets his work. This may be the best thing ever written on the subject. You should read it.
2:37 PM / September 22, 2011