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sábado, 11 de febrero de 2017

No rational person would deny that the modern world must face tremendous centrifugal forces





Essays of the Week


Sacrifice and Virtue: The Fabric of a Republic
by Bradley J. Birzer


The terribly fragile fabric of society has revealed itself all too frequently in recent months. Really, for a more than a year now, the social fabric of Western and American society has been rent by sporadic if not quite predictable violence at home and abroad. Somewhere, Edmund Burke said something to the effect that what takes several centuries to build can be brought down in a matter of hours. This semester, I have the grand privilege of teaching the history of the American Civil War. Regardless of my own views on the righteousness of the Union or Confederate causes, I have an immense respect for the average soldier on each side. Far from fighting for or against slavery, most troops fought to defend what they believed to be a greater and better republic, a republic that lived up to the many sacrifices of their fathers and grandfathers...


by Peter Kalkavage


Music is the most comprehensive of the liberal arts; to speak about music is speak about everything. Music, even the saddest music in the world – music that may even be the sound of despair and crushing grief – is dear to us and makes us happy, if only for a while. Maybe this is because music, as a living presence that comes to us, offers itself to us, assures us that we are not alone: that there is something out there in the world that knows our hearts and may even teach us to know them better. Thanks to music, we experience what it means to be connected to the whole of all things, even when that whole seems tragic; what it means to have a soul and not just a mind; to have depth, and not mere rightness, of feeling and being; and, above all, what it means to be open to ourselves and our world through listening...


by Marcia Christoff-Kurapnova


That narrative quality—the poetry, the lore—of yacht-builders does not exist today; “plastic yachting” has taken over. Of course, the boundlessness of the sea still produces awe, humility, reverence, and there are master boatbuilders still around today. But the scale, the attention, the celebratory grandeur are not there. Even the copies, the restorations, haven’t quite restored the historic appreciation these animate sculptures are owed. It took 2000 years to perfect sail design up through the great age of yachting, and it was the loveliness of the yacht-builders' craft that bestowed those ever-changing, fickle waters with modern meaning and contemporary epic. In this sense, it is man himself who has won over Nature, in a reversal of the ultimate gift of life: that of human ingenuity and crafted beauty as the source of rebirth and renewal—not only of man’s spirit, but of the very soul of the sea itself...


by Bruce Frohnen


Textualism is a compromise, or rather a lowest common denominator, that can allow for a renewal of the rule of law. Still, it rests on a great loss—that of the common mind of our people. Where once Americans understood that, for example, someone who murders his grandfather cannot inherit under that grandfather’s will, today the question would be “where is the law on that?” We have lost this understanding. Regaining it is the task of generations, and will come to lawyers last (or nearly last) of all. And until it comes to them—until judges are sufficiently imbued with a traditional understanding of right conduct, intrinsic purpose, and the role of custom in defining law and cabining power—we cannot look to natural law in court for protection against ideological bad actors on the bench. We should work to renew our common, natural law mind; in the meantime we must embrace those who in turn have embraced the modest common sense of textualism...


by Robert A. Heineman


No rational person would deny that the United States in the modern era must inevitably face tremendous centrifugal forces stemming from its attractiveness to those from other nations and its heritage of diversity. What seems incontrovertible is that important scholars in the field of American politics—those who are looked to for guidance in understanding the political dynamics of the nation—have failed miserably and, perhaps, tragically both to articulate the importance of political nationhood and to identify threats to that nationhood. Few expect these intellectuals personally to take up the cudgels of practical politics as Burke did, but it would seem incumbent on them at least to provide theoretical footholds for protecting the nation, as a nation, for those who must engage in political battle and policy debate. The future of the nation depends on the willingness of American scholars to return to constructive and comprehensive political analysis, and, in this endeavor, Burke must surely be an important guide...


by Christopher Morrissey


In Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the theme of romantic desire prohibited by the parents is treated in a very deliberate way. When parents, in opposition, stand athwart desire, that forbidden desire, simply by being forbidden, becomes even more enticing. Shakespeare chooses to show this psychological truth, not merely by dramatizing it, but by reflecting it back upon the dramatic action with the play-within-the-play of “Pyramus and Thisbe.” The Pyramus and Thisbe tale becomes the basis of the famous drama Romeo and Juliet. Far from dissuading young lovers everywhere, the names of these two young lovers are most famously immortalized. True love remains attractive, even when it dies young. Maybe the early demise even becomes part of the appeal. For what better way is there to show defiance regarding parental prohibition? A tragic end wins immortality for the lovers...


by Eva Brann


I’ll reveal my own predilections and aversions up front: I trust Socrates—without completely believing him—and I distrust Ludwig Wittgenstein, without thinking him completely wrong. In fact, I’m in some respects terminally puzzled by both, but more so by Wittgenstein, whose main book, as John Verdi tells us on the first page of Fat Wednesday, contains 784 questions of which only 110 are answered, and seventy of those wrongly—on purpose. 

Under the guidance of author John Verdi, and in conversation with my colleagues, I learned a lot, enough to formulate two judgments. One concerned the reason for my near-constitutional incomprehension of Wittgenstein’s project: He is the only non-fiction writer I know whose outlook on life is systematically—and rousingly—askew of mine. The other judgment was that Dr. Verdi’s book would likely be a most trustworthy introduction to this strange thinker’s upending of all that seems humanly sensible. And so it proved....

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