Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

NYT: "the reigning brain of the Christian right"

That would be the mild-mannered, sweet-tempered legal and moral theorist Robert George of Princeton.  (See his books here.)  He is the subject of a lengthy profile by David Kirkpatrick, formerly the NY Times resident anthropologist of conservatives.  The key to being "this country's most influential conservative Christian thinker" lies in his advocacy of natural law, though a natural law rooted in analytic philosophy, not Thomism or Aristotle.  Thus, Kantian practical reason (not Scriptural interpretation) becomes the basis for the defense of life against abortion, for decency against pornography, and for chastity against promiscuity.  Kirkpatrick's focus on sexuality distorts George's approach--one of the most touching of George's essays concerns the gratitude immigrants owe this country. 

In this regard, George's Kantianism resembles that of Hadley Arkes, who is however an overt follower of Leo Strauss.  It might be contrasted with the Thomism of James V. Schall, of Advent Conversations fame.  But all of these conservatives wind up politically in the same place.

It is unavoidable to note a certain a-political quality of the George approach, one that makes it alluring to Princeton undergraduates and acceptable to his colleagues.  (He co-teaches a class with Cornel West.)  Contrast George with Harry V. Jaffa, doubtless the profoundest thinker of American conservatism and also one tough brawler--still writing, now on Leo Strauss, at age 91:  William F. Buckley, Jr., once remarked that as hard as it is to disagree with Harry Jaffa, it's even harder to agree with him.

H/T WheatandWeeds "Pass the Biscuits."

Discussions - 5 Comments

Every family should have a “go to” person who can give answers to political and issue concerns, as suggested by Rush Limbaugh. Learning how means starting at the roots, the beginnings and differences between two sides of the same coin, which is all there is. One side is long established, where the few rule the many, irrespective of their labels. The other side is the newest, that of individual freedom and limited government. Why do many follow each side, and why the conflict between them? What side do current issues come from, such as health care, cap and trade as well as amnesty for illegal immigrants? What side of the coin most impacts the lives of your family, to whom you provide the answers? Call up for the roots of both sides and improve your understanding of the issues so you have the answers.

Harry V. Jaffa, doubtless the profoundest thinker of American conservatism

That's quite a cult of personality you've got going.

"Flenser," your reference to a Jaffa "cult of personality" is unfair. Calling him "the profoundest thinker of American conservatism" is a judgment that can certainly be made regardless of any cult of personality, whether it's true or not. Since you clearly disagree with that judgment, why not state your disagreement instead of indulging in a cheap, ad hominem sneer?

Yeah, just like when conservatives talk about objectivism.

Or when liberals commit to their absolute value of, "don't judge!"

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