Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Confidence, risk, and thymos

Walter Kirn reviews Mansfield’s Manliness in Sunday’s NYT Book Review. It is the perfect example of a review that is almost without value. A friend called it puerile. That will do. Mark Kingwell, a philosophy prof at Toronto, does it better. He is critical, but not childish. Then there was the David Brooks op-ed in Sunday’s NY Times (it is no longer up). The title gives away the meat in an article on politics (in the NYTimes, no less!) wherein the three parts of the soul are the core: "All Politics Is Thymotic." Inclined to like it, I give Brooks room, yet he leaves me with "recognition" to go on only, smelling much too much like Hegel and soft dignity, and not enough like noble courage to protect the weak, or anger against our enemies and their oppressors, for example. But, he is partly right in saying that Cheney and Rumsfeld are "extremely thymotic men" while "President Bush is a thymotic man partially chastened by Christianity." Bush certainly is a man who likes risk, and is confident in his risk taking. This makes his enemies angry. Yet, as the Poet says, to be in anger is impiety, "But who is man that is not angry?" I heard from a former student today who has not been able to put Mansfield down the whole weekend; they have been together, talking to one another, eating together, doing everything together, day and night, non-stop. No sign of fatigue, just eros for reason, as David Brooks might say. Good for both. Let Mansfield get the recognition, and the student the pleasure.

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