But those I own spread out sufficiently over my shelves, and remind me daily of the largeness of my debt of gratitude to their author, a debt too long unpaid. Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF. Skip to main content. Advertisement Hide. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
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This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access. Personalised recommendations. Cite chapter How to cite? And difficult truths may be the most important ones. More came to these conclusions as he set aside literary criticism for a series of meditations on the western philosophical tradition that would become the crown jewels of his oeuvre. The habits of thought that underlay the bourgeoning United States, the argument ran, were evolutionist and progressive.
Scholars could continue to confine themselves to ethereal speculation on the classics and other traditional subjects only at their peril. More turned to the rigors of philosophy after for much the opposite reason. He was wholly unimpressed with the results of importing the scientific habit of mind into humanistic pursuits. I must say frankly that, after dealing. More preferred his humanists as classicists. Here, More was not slipping into romantic excitement. To the contrary, he was on the verge of elaborating a vast philosophical history that took the West to task for forgetting the lessons of Plato.
In a series of books on Plato and the Greeks from the late s and s, More developed his contention that any form of philosophical monism amounts to error. By monism, More meant those habits of thought—such as Rousseau-ianism and Darwinism in the modern period—that offered comprehensive explanations of the workings of life and the world.
More conceded that monistic explanations have a certain allure indeed, the allure of certainty , but insisted that monism be resisted in the interest of realism. The hard state of affairs is that related in so laborious a fashion via dialogue by Socrates: that the truth resides in a One above us all; that approximation to, but not unity with, that One is all that is available to us—and that, through a difficult process.
Paul Elmer More: America’s Reactionary
He made the One explicitly connected to the realm of creation via a chain of causes. Plotinus left an impress on early Christianity, which in its Western version became distracted by notions of sin, repentance, and works-righteousness—implying, once again in monistic fashion, that reconciliation of the entire order of creation is conceivable if only one figures out how to act properly.
Not that More found Greek philosophy, even in its pristine Platonic form, wholly satisfactory. As More wrote in the final volume of The Greek Tradition :. Man is logical not only by possession of the faculty of thought. Thus it is that logos communes with logos, and a man knows himself not to be solitary in a friendless world, but member of a great society of kindred souls. Human beings do not commune in thoughtful recognition of each other, except in the rarest of circumstances: witness the example of Socrates himself.
More knew that he needed a philosophical account of evil. These problems were leading More to Christianity, specifically to meditation on Christian ideas of divine incarnation.
By the completion of The Greek Tradition , More had become something of a hit. He had always been an influential writer, as editors of The Nation typically are. Yet More was uncomfortable with this association. He had written articles and books ardently against the grain, but had never done anything intentionally to foment a school of followers.
The New Humanism was an effort by a group of young literary critics to bring criticism back from the brink of psychological and sociological foundationalism. New Humanists such as Irving Babbitt or New Critics such as Allen Tate sought to reclaim the humanistic content of literature by paying attention to manifest ideas and keeping discussions of context to a reasonable minimum. More took seriously thoughtful and talented critics such as Tate, but he was wary of the throngs of college students who were declaring themselves for the New Humanism.
The pragmatism of the s was in a disreputable state in the s, blamed for having failed in such eminently worldly endeavors as preventing war and securing a decent peace. Students were enraptured by the New Humanism in the s because it represented a road not taken in the generation before.police-risk-management.com/order/android/tonaw-come-intercettare.php
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The momentum of his own work, however, was leading More into further and further isolation. On completing The Greek Tradition in , he dedicated himself to theological matters for the last decade of his life. Here, More moved away from Plato, finding it necessary for man not only to bask in the light of divine wisdom, but to partake in the divine essence in spiritual communion. Laziness and vanity, and other attitudes and moods that keep persons focused on the low affairs of the here and now, were enough to overcome the innate tendency to seek communion with God.
The Incarnation, aside from canceling the debt of the fall, is also a ringing reminder to persons to wake up and be true to themselves in religion. Sloth was even responsible for the intellectual errors of modernity, the sloth that has permitted man the fantasy of comprehensive understanding. One wonders if he would have kept to his view of evil had he lived to observe all the predations of the twentieth century. More, however, did not linger on this question, choosing in his last years, while not becoming quite a confessing Christian, to cast his thoughts towards things eternal.
In one of his final pieces, which he left unfinished at his death, More quoted this beautiful passage from Newman:. Lambert in Modern Age in The latter half of the twentieth century probably witnessed the greatest rediscovery of Plato since the Renaissance. Paul Oskar Kristeller, forced out of central Europe in the s, presided over a remarkable flourishing of Plato scholarship in the United States for four decades. In reading the Kristeller of the s, one is transported to the More of the s:. There is a widespread quest for broad syntheses and a contempt for details and nuances, while specialization is constantly deplored but practised, as it has been ever since the twelfth century at least.
The world of scholarship, once called the republic of letters, is or should be autonomous. If it yields to political or social pressures, it does so at its own risk, and must consider the price it pays and whether that price is worth paying. For it is our task as scholars to preserve and keep alive what is valuable in our cultural tradition. Many people now seem to feel that submitting to the truth, factual or rational, and to valid standards of conduct and taste, is a restriction of their freedom, and that the best defense of this freedom is to deny that there is any valid truth or standard.
Such views were expressed more subtly by the sceptical philosophers of antiquity and of later times. I do not share them, and rather believe with many respectable philosophers that the submission to truth and to valid norms is what constitutes our true moral freedom. I must confess in the end something that may be inferred from my previous statements.
I am at heart a Platonist, on the issue of rhetoric, as on many, though not all, others. Hayek and Whittaker Chambers. For Hayek and especially Chambers, the congenital optimism and sunny disposition of Western peoples, particularly Americans, were the wrong things to bring to the fight against Mephistophelian communism.
Relentless application of will ultimately saw the West through the danger zone and put this fear to rest. More was not a political writer, but this is a development he would have appreciated, on practical, philosophical, and spiritual grounds. Who can say what will happen in politics and society or for that matter, in literature?
It is then that we will have need of More. It is because More writes from so wholly different a perspective than this that he remains worth reading today. Your time at college is too important to get a shallow education in which viewpoints are shut out and rigorous discussion is shut down. Explore intellectual conservatism Join a vibrant community of students and scholars Defend your principles.
Does fusionism have a future among conservatives in the 21st century? A historian of the movement says yes.
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As the debate about cinema vs. Skip to content. He wrote in In one of his annual reports some years ago, President Eliot. An essay on Whitman, however, turns the tables: [Whitman] lacked the rare and unique elevation of Emerson. Duggan again concludes: He is not. As More wrote in the final volume of The Greek Tradition : Man is logical not only by possession of the faculty of thought. In reading the Kristeller of the s, one is transported to the More of the s: [W]ithin the humanities, the intellectual historian has to defend himself against the claims, often excessive and intolerant, of the social historian, the literary critic, and the analytic philosopher.
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