by Christopher Chantrill
January 26, 2005
The primary thing to keep in mind about German and Russian thought since1800 is that it takes for granted that the Cartesian, Lockean or Humean scientific and philosophical conception of man and nature... has been shown by indisputable evidence to be inadequate.
F.S.C. Northrop, The Meeting of East and West
Inquiry does not start unless there is a problem... It is the problem and its characteristics revealed by analysis which guides one first to the relevant facts and then, once the relevant facts are known, to the relevant hypotheses.
F.S.C. Northrop, The Logic of the Sciences and the Humanities
Knowledge begins with a problem.
Christopher Chantrill, after John Dewey
But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.
Freddy Arbuthnot in Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison
Don Beck/Clare Graves. Don Beck wrote Spiral Dynamics with Christopher Cowan. Their book is a culmination of a century of developmental psychology that begins with the American psychologist James Mark Baldwin and reaches an apogee with the work of Clare Graves. Beck proposes to understand human behavior and motivation with an eight turn spiral of human consciousness, from barely self-conscious to tribal to impulsive, to purposeful, to creative, to communitarian, to integrated, to holistic.
Friedrich Hayek mounted the first great challenge to the welfare state with The Road to Serfdom, arguing that it would lead to the same all-powerful state as that desired by the fascists and the communists, but by easy stages. His Constitution of Liberty was an attempt to imagine a government free from the encroachment of administrative law and rational planning.
Ludwig von Mises was the genius who pointed out in the 1920s that socialism was impossible because it couldnt compute prices. His great Human Action was a mid-twentieth century masterpiece that attempted to extend economics into a general theory of human action.
F.S.C. Northrop was a Yale law professor who went to Germany in the 1920s to get his PhD and learned about modern physics. He learned how the Kantian tradition in Germany regarded the Anglo-American empirical tradition as hopelessly outdated and naive. He also understood, after World War II, how Kant had opened a Pandoras Box that led to the brilliant mistakes of Fichte, Hegel, Marx, and Nietzsche and the evil of Hitler. His Meeting of East and West written just after World War II was a work of true multiculturalism, showing how the great high cultures of the world were complementary, and that by joining the excessively deductive culture of the West to the excessively inductive culture of the East we could achieve a true meeting of East and West.
Michael Novak wrote The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism to challenge the liberation theology that was popular in the Catholic Church in the 1970s. He proposes a Greater Separation of Powers beyond the practical separation of government branches. He differentiates society into a political sector, an economic sector, and a religious/cultural sector. These jealous centers of power check and balance each other in our modern cosmopolitan society.
Camille Paglia is a feisty Amazon who has interpreted western art in early Nietzschean terms as the struggle between Apollo and Dionysius. Her Sexual Personae reminds us that civilization is just a thin Apollonian veneer that we have constructed to shut out the terror of the Dionysian turmoil just beneath the surface.
Roger Scruton is a British philosopher and conservative. He calls himself both a person of the rational Enlightenment and an old-fashioned Englishman. Son of an atheistic Communist he found that he had to make the choice between reform and revolution in the Paris student riots of May 1968. He describes his turn to conservatism eloquently in Why I Became a Conservative. But his conservatism was scandalous in the left-wing academy of Britain. He was for a time a Professor of Aesthetics at Birkbeck College but had to leave the suffocating left-wing atmosphere. He founded and edited the conservative Salisbury Review for many years and has written several books on philosophy, including Kant and An Intelligent Persons Guide to Philosophy. A cultural and political conservative Scruton has expressed his conservative politics in books like A Political Philosophy: Arguments for Conservatism, and his cultural conservatism in titles like Modern Culture. Scruton has written novels and two operas, and rides to hounds (i.e. foxhunting).
Rodney Stark and his merry men are sociologists of religion that have mounted an insurgency against the established notion that western society is in a process of irrevocable secularization and that soon, religion just wont matter much any more. Instead they argue in The Churching of America and many other books that religion evolves in waves of secularization and revival. Anyway, how do you account for the fact that religious adherence in the United States has gone from 17 percent in 1776 to over 60 percent right now? Particularly annoying to his critics is his symbolization of preachers as religious entrepreneurs and churches as religious firms.
Frederick Turner is an English professor in Texas. His Culture of Hope and his Shakespeares Twenty-first Century Economics describe his vision of a society that has vaulted optimistically out of the current elites death spiral into postmodernist despair. He proposes that modern business society is not just a matter of dry contracts and the cash nexus. The Merchant of Venice demonstrated, for anyone who would pay attention, that business requires not just rules and pounds of flesh, but mercy, that falleth like the gentle rain from heaven.
Eric Voegelin belongs to a generation of sadder, wiser Germans that responded to the disaster of 1914-45 by going back to the origins of the Judeo-Hellenistic-Christian tradition. In his monumental Order and History he attempted to refound the western experience as a search for order. Voegelin attacked the universal practice of stigmatizing old ways of thinking as superstition, your Lie that must be destroyed because it stands in the way of my Truth. He proposed that each advance in human understanding was a leap in being that led from compact ways of knowing to more differentiated knowledge.
Ken Wilber attempts to merge the eastern consciousness of Hinduism and Buddhism with western developmental psychology to produce a comprehensive world view in his Sex, Ecology, Spirituality and many other books. Central to his thought is the notion that we transcend and include old ways, rather than replace them, as we evolve. (Note the connection with the Voegelinian leap in being.) Powered with money from the 1990s tech bubble, he is developing Integral Institute into a vehicle for his ideas.
David T. Beito is Associate Professor at the University of Alabama. His books From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State told the story of the fraternal associations that thrived before the advent of the welfare state and The Voluntary City imagines the city freed from the dead hand of liberal compulsion. His books have surfaced important information about the road to the middle class.
John Boyd was a maverick Air Force officer who developed the basis of modern jet fighter tactics. His idea is called E-M theory, relating an aircrafts energy and maneuverability. Then he went on to military strategy, extending the state of military art from the German achievements in infiltration tactics and blitzkrieg to a concept that clearly belongs in the age of cybernetics, the OODA loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act). The idea is to run your OODA loop faster and more effectively than your enemy so that he becomes disoriented and demoralized. You can read a short article about Boyds life here. SeeBoydâ€™s Patterns of Conflict presentation slides here.
David G. Green is Director the Institute for the Study of Civil Society. Dr David Green had been at the Institute of Economic Affairs since 1984, and Director of the IEA Health and Welfare Unit since 1986. He was a Labour councillor in Newcastle upon Tyne from 1976 until 1981, and from 1981 to 1983 was a Research Fellow at the Australian National University in Canberra. See his Reinventing Civil Society.
[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
For [the left] there is only the state and the individual, nothing in between. No family to rely on, no friend to depend on, no community to call on. No neighbourhood to grow in, no faith to share in, no charities to work in. No-one but the Minister, nowhere but Whitehall, no such thing as society - just them, and their laws, and their rules, and their arrogance.
David Cameron, Conference Speech 2008
As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable...
[1.] protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; [2.] recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family... [3.] the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.
Pope Benedict XVI, Speech to European Peoples Party, 2006
No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you should never trust experts. If you believe doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.
Lord Salisbury, Letter to Lord Lytton