BACK in 1839, philosopher David Hume couldn't hold back any longer, so he sallied forth, at the grand old age of eighteen, to write his Treatise of Human Nature. Why not? The Scots are notoriously dour and flinty, and certainly exposed at a young age to the reality of a long winter, so a young lad raised on haggis and mutton ought to have a clear and unclouded mind uninflamed by the fripperies of London and its Sassenach coffee-houses.
He starts out, as any philosopher must, by clearing the ground. In young David's case, he tells us the difference between "impression" and "idea." The difference between the two, he writes, consists in the "degrees of force and liveliness, with which they strike upon the mind, and make their way into our thought or consciousness."
There should be no problem in discriminating between the two, he writes, even though "in sleep, in a fever, in madness... our ideas may approach our impressions."
Oh yeah? Just how then do we do it? How close can an hallucination approach us in force and vivacity before we dignify it with the rank of "impression?" Other than the classic professorial put-down that it's obvious?
In fact, of course, scholars and wrangled about this forever, because it's a rather glaring aporia (that's Greek for no way through) in Hume's system.
Here's one chappie's effort. He says that there's a difference between a representation and an actual presentation, or experience. You can have an idea of the Acropolis, but until you've actually been there and seen it -- well, it's just a hallucination.
Hume himself deals with the problem later in Book One of the Treatise. Sure, he says, a "lively imagination very often degenerates into madness or folly" as does any "chimera of the brain." But you and I are able to differentiate such phantasms and similar poetical effusions. The fact is that we can tell the difference between the fiction and the real, he asserts.
Well yes. That's the definition of sanity, I reckon. You can tell the difference between the voices in your head, however forceful and vivacious, and the relentless reality out there in the world that eventually turns our hair gray. Anything else is madness.
THE chaps at the Weekly Standard have caught the Democratic operatives with bylines up to their old tricks. They've all decided, all on their little lonesomes, that the 2014 midterms are "the election about nothing." Stephen Hayes: The Washington Post may have been first in declaring the coming midterms “kind of—and apologies to Seinfeld here—an election about nothing.” But the Daily Beast ...
IN the middle of the 19th century, when sensitive souls first noticed the industrial revolution, they all agreed that the solution to the Moloch of bourgeois capitalism was more government. And they had a point, for it looked as though the capitalists would rule the world. It took another 50 years to demonstrate that capitalists weren't much interested in power. After building their businesses,...
I like to compare political party supporters to soldiers in an army. That's because I experience that government is always about war. It's not that hard. Governments fight foreign wars -- or at least border wars; that's just what they do. So the war is always about forcing the neighbor state to recognize the borders, or to submit to the adjustment of the borders in favor of our side. ...
LAST week I read a piece about the decline of the culture -- or something -- but it included a chart that I can't get out of my mind. I can't find the article, but I did find the chart at the website of the St. Louis Fed. It's a chart about men and work. Specifically, it's the percent of men actually working, the "Employment-Population Ratio." Actually, it's the percent of men actually working....
Download latest e-book draft here.
A New Manifesto
A spectre is haunting the liberal elitethe spectre of conservatism.
The Crisis of the Administrative State
It wasnt supposed to be like this.
Government and the Technology of Power
If you scratch a social reformer, you will likely discover a plan for more government.
Business, Slavery, and Trust
Business is all about trust and relationship.
Humanity's Big Problem: Freebooters and Freeloaders
The modern welfare state encourages freeloaders.
The Bonds of Faith
No society known to anthropology or history lacked religion.
A Critique of Social Mechanics
The problem with human society reduced to system.
The Paradox of Individualism
Is individualism the gospel of selfishness or something else?
From Multitude to Civil Society
The larger the government, the smaller the society.
The Answer is Civil Society
In between the separated powers.
The Greater Separation of Powers
If you want to limit power then you must limit power.
Conservatism Three by Three
Conservatism, political, economics, and cultural.
The Culture of Involvement
Imagining lives without the welfare state
The Poor Without the Welfare State
Can the poor thrive without the welfare state?
The Middle Class Without The Welfare State
How would the middle class live without all those middle-class entitlements?
From Freeloaders to Free Givers
The path to the future lies through moral movements.
The Real Meaning of Society
Broadening the horizon of cooperation in the last best hope of man on earth.
Andrew Coulson, Market Education
How universal literacy was achieved before government education
Carl Kaestle, Pillars of the Republic
How we got our education system
James Tooley, The Miseducation of Women
How the feminists wrecked education for boys and for girls
James Tooley, Reclaiming Education
How only a market in education will provide opportunity for the poor
E.G. West, Education and the State
How education was doing fine before the government muscled in
Hernando De Soto, The Mystery of Capital
How ordinary people in the United States wrote the law during the 19th century
F. A. Hayek, Law Legislation and Liberty, Vol 1
How to build a society based upon law
Henry Maine, Ancient Law
How the movement of progressive peoples is from status to contract
John Zane, The Story of Law
How law developed from early times down to the present
James Bartholomew, The Welfare State We're In
How the welfare state makes crime, education, families, and health care worse.
David Beito, From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State
How ordinary people built a sturdy social safety net in the 19th century
David Green, Before Beveridge: Welfare Before the Welfare State
How ordinary people built themselves a sturdy safety net before the welfare state
Theda Skocpol, Diminished Democracy
How the US used to thrive under membership associations and could do again
David Stevenson, The Origins of Freemasonry
How modern freemasonry got started in Scotland
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing
How Christianity is booming in China
Finke & Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990
How the United States grew into a religious nation
Robert William Fogel, The Fourth Great Awakening and the Future of Egalitarianism
How progressives must act fast if they want to save the welfare state
David Martin, Pentecostalism: The World Their Parish
How Pentecostalism is spreading across the world
After a year of President Obama most Americans understand that the nation is on the wrong track. But how do we find the right track? Americans knew thirty years ago that liberalism was a busted flush. Yet Reaganism and Bushism seemed to be less than the best answer.
But where can we turn? Where are the thinkers and activists of the old days? Where do we find the best ideas? And how do we persuade our present ruling class to loosen its grip on power so that we can move the locomotive of state back onto the right track?
With all of our problems it seems like the worst of times.
In fact, this is the best of times. Under the radar a generation of great thinkers have been figuring out what went wrong and conjuring up visions of a better future. This book, "An American Manifesto: Life After Liberalism" is an introduction to their ideas, and to the great future that awaits an America willing to respond to their call.
Although this book is addressed to all Americans, conservative, moderate, and liberal, and looks to a nation that transcends our present partisan divide, I must tell you that liberals will have the most difficulty with the book. The reason is simple. I am asking liberals to give up a lot of the power they have amassed in the last century. But we are all Americans, and we must all give up something for the sake of the greater good.
I am Christopher Chantrill and I am writing this book in full view. I'll be blogging on the process and the ideas, and I'll be asking you, dear readers, to help. Read the blog. Read the articles as they come out on American Thinker and ponder over the draft chapters here on this site.
Then send me your reactions, your thoughts, and your comments. You will help more than you know.
[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.
[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050
Civil Societya complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churchesbuilds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust
[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists, she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican
[T]he Liberal, and still more the subspecies Radical... more than any other in these latter days seems under the impression that so long as he has a good end in view he is warranted in exercising over men all the coercion he is able[.]
Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State
These emerge out of long-standing moral notions of freedom, benevolence, and the affirmation of ordinary life... I have been sketching a schematic map... [of] the moral sources [of these notions]... the original theistic grounding for these standards... a naturalism of disengaged reason, which in our day takes scientistic forms, and a third family of views which finds its sources in Romantic expressivism, or in one of the modernist successor visions.
Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self
Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism
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