Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns


Harvey Mansfield’s Manliness landed on my desk this afternoon. The publication date was moved up by a few weeks. Not good. My life will be more confused, for everything will take a back seat to this gift from the deep. I had a doctor’s appointment this afternoon and took the book. As I waited for the body doctor I read randomly from the soul doctor...every sentence interesting, biting, clear, even poetic. Not a blemish on any. The book is full of he-men and man-words and ideas that build on the flat world because man’s worth has been asserted and there is blandness no more. So Mansfield asserts the worth and then proves it, as does the old man against the sea. The doctors let me go (all is well, I’m fine), so I stayed in the ante-room and read a bit more. There is Darwin, and Kipling as Darwin, in spirit if not in letter. Men can’t be indifferent to "some God of Abstract Justice." Mansfield: "Every man is his mother’s son and thus better defended by her than by himself. But he would not be better ruled by her. A woman’s disregard of justice gives her license to command but not to govern, since governing has to do with justice." There was more at the Chinese restaurant, despite the poor lighting. "Manliness is not too modest to assert itself, to tell us the value of the manly man." And later, there is Socrates showing that it is the logos in command and not he, and because philosophy is devoted to the what, it abstracts from the who, from the particulars of human life, indeed, from human life itself. Attention to human life is what we call realism, says Mansfield, "especially womanly realism as shown in the following he/she joke. He ’The trouble with women is that they always take things personally.’ She: ’Doesn’t apply to me.’" And then a reminder that teachers have to take manliness into account when they teach for sometimes their teaching calls students to manliness and not moderation. And as he moves toward his conclusion he reminds us that we have to respect the differences between male and female, yet remind ourselves that the convention in which we do this is modern liberalism, not ancient Greece. So the last chapter is called "Unemployed Manliness" I glance at it, sip more tea, and drive home in the snow storm. It will be a rough couple of days, but welcome.

Discussions - 13 Comments

’The trouble with women is that they always take things personally.’


Maniliness is wonderful where it belongs; that is, in men. To ask it of women is to ask a lot. On consideration, asking it of men seems to asking a lot in these latter days.

Brian, what do you care if we hear you?

Thanks for the insights. I look forward to reading the book. When is the publication date exactly?

Carolyn: It was published February 6th, but I did not see it until yesterday.

On today, Publisher’s Weekly is calling this book a "juvenile screed." Question: Does make enough money that it can afford to allow ideologues to trash the books it is seeking to sell? Meanwhile, I hope Publisher’s Weekly realizes that its review, and No Left Turns, have convinced me not only to read but to buy this book. I hope others do so as well.

Finally, too bad Mansfield did not get this book out in time to pass a copy over to Larry Summers before his disastrous decision to apologize for what he could have defended in a fine show of manliness.

I’m sure Publisher’s Weekly will be devastated when they hear that Jon will be buying the book because of their review!

Harvey Mansfield will be the Commencement Speaker for Hillsdale College. That’s May 13th at 1 pm in Hilsdale, Michigan. Manly.

This will be a nice complement to the Beowulf, Odyssey, and Sir Gawain I’ve just finished reading. I’ll pick up the book and go home and wrestle with my two-year-old son a little to teach him manliness. Let’s find "our chests" men!

That’s good! I teach my boy manliness by hitting him with a stick! He always cries, though, the sissy.


Dr. Mosier says this: "Is there anyone in "gender studies" who does not believe that gender is wholly socially constructed?

But Tony Williams says this: "I’ll pick up the book and go home and wrestle with my two-year-old son a little to teach him manliness."

But if manliness can be taught then manliness is socially constructed...

I don’t really think it can be or is completly taught...manliness is simply a viceral reaction to facts, albeit also a reaction to and interaction with how those facts are rewarded, praised or blammed.

Crunch - that’s too bad you abuse your son physically and mentally. Personally, I like to play with my son.

John Lewis - Perhaps we socially construct not just artificially, but what is already in nature, i.e., that sex is inherent and men and women might actually be different.

You folks seem awfully concerned with your manliness. Is there a problem at home?

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