Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Random Quotes for Discussion

1. FROM Adam Gopnik, ANGELS AND AGES: A SHORT BOOK ABOUT DARWIN, LINCOLN, AND MODERN LIFE (2009: "...[T]he originality [of the Lyceum speech] lies its radicalism of its case for reason. Lincoln’s argument was simple but original: the curse of American life was violence; its cure was law. Although Lincoln was a Southerner, nothing could be more remote from the Southern cult of honor or idea of noble vengeance. Cold calculation, the dispassionate parsing of the people of the Northern land of steady habits, was the path to the future.

"Lincoln tempered but never really abandoned that conviction. His rhetorical genius lay in making cold calculation look like passionate idealism, in making the closely reasoned argument ring with the sound of religious necessity."

2. FROM (Dr.) Patrick J. Deneen, "Strange Bedfellows: Allan Bloom and John Dewey Against Liberal Education, Rightly Understood" (in THE GOOD SOCIEITY, 2008): "For all the differences in emphasis on texts and approaches, the basic aim is the same for the epigones of [John] Dewey and [Allan] Bloom: the liberation of students from the limitations of place and background, a suspicion of the ’ancestral,’ an endorsement of scientific or philosophic ’critical thinking’ bordering on skepticism, and the praise for a form of mobility that sets us loose from places and traditions."

3. FROM Ralph Hancock, "Back to Where We Started, or, The New Hobbism Comes Out" (in PERSPECTIVES ON POLITICAL SCIENCE, Winter, 2009): "Of course, Hobbes could have refuted the existence of neither of a good higher than comfortable survival nor of a God who reveals himself as a man. His brilliance, Lilla argues (in A STILLBORN GOD), lay not in attempting that impossible theoretical task, but rather in skirting it altogether by practically changing the subject. If violence-fraught questions of God and the good cannot be answered, everything must be done to destract us from them. To say, with Lilla, that Hobbes changed the subject is thus to say that modernity is a giant diversion, a sleight of hand in which everything depends on keeping the subject changed...."

Discussions - 3 Comments

I like the quote from the Gopnik book. Is the whole of the book as good as that quote?

Those are indeed both random and insightful!

That's a great quote from Ralph's piece--at different times and within different projects the thrust of modernity is either to simply ignore the question of God, to radically sequester it from politics, or to somehow incorporate our religious eros in a thoroughly temporalized way...sometimes the spirit of modernity has this tempestuous adoloscent character to it so obviously trying to reject a patrimony it has absorbed, in however deformed a version...

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