Adam Smith's Dilemma and the Algonquian Model of Political Virtue

Adam Smith is usually remembered as a champion of commerce. But as a moral philosopher he understood that even as commerce inculcates the virtues of industry, frugality, and temperance, it also inculcates vices such as avarice, envy, and short-sighted self-centeredness. Smith recognized that good government requires virtues such as honor, moral rectitude, patriotism, magnanimity, and a far-sighted perspective, to which the commercial vices are fairly opposed. Smith considered this a problem in his own day, as Great Britain was threatening to become a nation of shopkeepers, ruled by classes trained not in statesmanship but in commerce, governed not by codes of honor but by self-interest. The problem has resonance today as well.

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Michael Ley on the Suicide of the West: The Islamization of Europe

In his account of the impact of Islam on Europe, Michael Ley pulls no punches, especially for all those readers, like the present reviewer, who still hope that a Muslim humanism and not Islamist terrorism will become the primary social movement in global Islam in the years to come. In a nutshell, Ley’s main theses are the following: Orthodox and radical Islam are the scourge of humanity. Ley calls Sharia Islam “the worst danger for democracy and human rights in the 21st Century.” Only an Islam without Sharia is compatible with human rights. Yet that is a vision for the future; current reality, according to Ley, is different. The Islamization of Europe is, according to Ley, the most visible change in most European societies. While liberal and educated citizens consider the increasing influence of conservative and radical Islam with great concern and regard the future of the continent as rather bleak, their so-called progressive opponents interpret the ongoing Islamization as a cultural enrichment that contributes to the historical overcoming of the obsolete nation-state. Ley goes as far as to say that today the pioneers of radical post-national Europe would prefer to abolish all symbols of national identity: indigenous Europeans should waive all national, cultural, religious, and ultimately also traditional sexual identities.

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Evaluating Enlightenment: Progressive Critiques of Modernity in Rationalization and Ecology

The following paper was presented at the 2016 Telos Conference, held on January 16–17, 2016, in New York City. For additional details about this and upcoming conferences, please visit the Telos-Paul Piccone Institute website.

What is modernity? First, a period “occasioned by a peculiarly ahistorical view of the world, which is flattened into an eternal present. The world we experience appears to exhaust all possible worlds.” Second, modernity is deeply rooted in the three Kantian principles of Enlightenment: “‘What can know?’ the question of knowledge; of the ‘What should I do?’ which is the question of ethics, and of the ‘What can I hope?'”

The Western modern project is dependent upon both Greek and Hebrew antiquity. In ancient Ionia, Thales of Miletus predicted a solar eclipse, Anaximander predicted the changing of the seasons, Theodorus invented the ruler, the carpenter’s square, and the level, and Hippocrates began accumulating medical knowledge through trial and error. These “pre-Socratic” Ionians were merchants and artisans; they worked with their hands, whereas the Athenians were engaged primarily in contemplation.

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Jonathan Israel: The Enlightenment Reconsidered

From the 2015 Telos Conference in New York City, the following is a video of Jonathan Israel’s keynote presentation, “The Enlightenment Reconsidered: A Contemporary Controversy.” For further details about the conference, which addressed the theme of “Universal History, Philosophical History, and the Fate of Humanity,” visit the Telos-Paul Piccone Institute website.

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Karl Jaspers' Concept of Universal History in the Context of his Age and Ours

Already in the first third of the 20th century, Karl Jaspers began formulating a philosophy that addressed the collapse of Enlightenment concepts of universal history and offered a perspective that could help us reformulate “universal history” as a viable concept. Jaspers’ work in this area is, I believe, underappreciated, and constitutes a realistic “cosmopolitan vision” that could help us address many of the thorny issues of global cultural conflict and diversity that we face today.

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The Judeo-Christian Tradition in the Development and Continuing Evolution of the Western Synthesis

In this article, I focus on the impact on modern Western thinking, ideas, and engagement with the world of the loss of the assumption of a creator, or an intelligent ordering agent, in conjunction with the emphasis on detail in preference to the whole in modern thought. I begin by discussing some of the critical dynamics contributed by Jerusalem, Athens, and Rome to the concept of Europe in an attempt to identify the source of the energy and vitality arising from this synthesis. I particularly look at the synthesis of Jerusalem and Athens, specifically how each influenced the other and where the potential for synergy arose. This Western synthesis no longer operates in Europe and the West.

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