sábado, 3 de diciembre de 2016

Can the Humanities Contribute Anything to the Modern World?

Essays of the Week

by Shannon Holzer
As long as words are left undefined, their meanings are vague and are left up to the listener’s or reader’s imagination. Many on the left have manipulated language concerning rights. It is because liberals make use of the nominal definition of the word “rights” in order to suit their needs. This is especially true when it comes to Constitutional interpretation. In discussing rights, the political left rarely refers to natural rights. This is because natural rights assume that natures exist. Natures contain those pesky little things called essences. And, essences lock one into a definition about objects and not words. Speaking about objects is too specific for those who care more about the pragmatism of the word truth than conforming to it. It is this pragmatic use of the word “right” that the left uses to its advantage... [MORE]

by Wilfred McClay
The federal idea was not somehow incidental to the Framer’s intentions. It was absolutely essential, and we need to remember why. There are, roughly speaking, two reasons; and it is in keeping with my allusion to Isaiah Berlin that one of them is negative, the other positive. First, the negative one: The Framers distrusted power, distrusted government, distrusted majorities, distrusted human nature. They believed in “the necessity of auxiliary precautions” to guard against the abuses of power to which popular governments are prone. Hence the need to devise a government that deliberately set up “opposite and rival interests” that could check and balance one another, using “ambition… to counteract ambition.” Federalism was a crucial part of this arrangement. The separation of national and state governments, in tandem with the separation of powers within each level of government, provided “a double security” for the people’s rights, through the effective dispersion of power... [MORE]

by Peter Kalkavage
Listening to Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde is a ravishing and, I believe, important human experience. The opera contains music of incredible beauty and power, especially in its richly textured harmonies. To listen to this music, quite apart from seeing a production, is to be under a spell and to imbibe Wagner’s all-too-effective tone-potion. We listen at our peril, for in listening we are the voluptuous music of death-bound Eros. The potion that is Tristan contains much truth, terrible truth, about erotic passion. But it also prompts us, or should prompt us, to search for an antidote to the lovers’ death wish—to pursue a love that preserves rather than destroys, celebrates rather than abolishes individuality, and seeks life rather than death, clarity rather warmth alone, wakefulness rather than sleep, and reconciliation with the external world, which mixes great evil with great good... [MORE]

by Thaddeus Kozinski
If philosophy is so impractical, then why were the American Founding Fathers, not impractical men, educated so thoroughly in philosophical dialectic, in the Platonic/Aristotelian/Scholastic school of rigorous logic and subtle distinction-making? Philosophy is many things to many people, but to me it is the art of questioning. Questions are not self-sufficient, of course, for without answers, we despair. But answers that are not the answers to our own questions are not really answers. If we can learn to ask the right questions in the right spirit, then the answers for which our hearts yearn will be given to us... [MORE]

by Jason Baxter
The whole thrust of our modern society is to promote a bold sense of moving forward, to create the desire to marshal resources which will help us be successful in the next generation. But what do we mean by successful? What are the standards for judging such success? The hidden assumption of modernity is that the problems that ought to occupy us are technological at their base. There seems to be very little cultural space for humanistic studies. It is difficult to perceive how literature, philosophy, or theology could contribute to technological capitalism. And so, on first thought, we might want to answer our question—can the humanities possibly contribute to our modern culture?—in the negative...  [MORE]

by Bruce Frohnen
Reasonable expectations for the Trump Presidency must focus neither on recent fear-mongering, nor on down-the-line conservative orthodoxy. Rather, they must focus on what Mr. Trump actually promised. Given the hysteria of so many, it may seem surprising to note that what he promised was a return to political sanity: Concern for the national self-interest rather than globalist ideology, preservation of national borders, concern for the economic well-being of the American people, and an end to the radical ideological programs destroying our educational system and undermining the character, self-understanding, and knowledge of our young people. This is no full-scale conservative program—it lacks any overt commitment to principles of local self-government and restoration of a virtuous public square. But it is a crucial program for the preservation and possible renewal of the American way of life... [MORE]

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