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  An American Manifesto
Thursday April 24, 2014 
by Christopher Chantrill Follow chrischantrill on Twitter

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Frederick Turner

by Christopher Chantrill
October 1, 2006

[Every] sacrifice is an act of impurity that pays for a prior act of greater impurity... without its participants having to suffer the full consequences incurred by its predecessor. The punishment is commuted in a process that strangely combines and finesses the deep contradiction between justice and mercy. 

Frederick Turner, Beauty: The Value of Values

In 1984, in one of the last articles published in Harper’s that was neither angry or crabbed, English professor Frederick Turner wrote in “Escape from Modernism” that we had entered a new era, a union of art and techne in which the picture had become the machine.  It was part of his quest that began with an attempt to imagine a new culture of hope that escaped the death spiral of leftism and postmodernism. It culminates with his Natural Religion that proposes the radical question: What if all the world’s religions are true? What would that mean?

Frederick Turner is the son of British anthropologist Victor Turner, who went out to Africa a left-wing atheist and returned a practicing Catholic. You could say that the son’s writing and thinking are a project to understand the drama of the father’s life journey.

Natural Religion represents the latest in Turner’s writing, a culmination of a lifetime of thinking and writing.  In Natural Classicism, Turner conducted an examination of the interconnectedness of nature and human endeavor. Natural Classicism includes an expanded version of his Harper’s article “Escape from Modernism.”  In Beauty: The Value of Values, he developed a new theory of aesthetics based on the argument that beauty is an objective reality in the universe, a pancultural, neurobiological phenomenon.  In Rebirth of Value: Meditations on Beauty, Ecology, Religion, and Education, Turner prophesied a recovery of pan-cultural human nature, beauty as a real evolutionary tendency, the efficacy and reality of values in general, the reunion of the arts, sciences, and technology, a new science including non-linear and self-organizing systems, and a broader understanding of causality.  These themes came together in The Culture of Hope: A New Birth of the Classical Spirit when Turner developed a new aesthetic synthesis arising from the unexpected convergence of religion, art, and science will restore a hopeful vision of the cosmos as intelligent, creative, and self-ordering, providing the basis for the recovery of classical values in the arts.  In Shakespeare’s Twenty-first Century Economics: The Morality of Love and Money he demonstrated that the world of business is not as hard-headed and impersonal as we like to think.  Personal bonds and hard-headed business transactions need not occupy separate worlds; we forget at our peril that a nation is also a commonwealth.  Capitalism can’t work if everyone demands their pound of flesh according to their bond.  The quality of mercy is not strained...

Fred Turner writes regularly for TCSDaily.com. HereĀ“s a speech given by Fred at the Philadelphia Society. You can get a more personal introduction at the website created by his son Ben (here), including a brief biography (here).

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.  His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.

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 TAGS


Faith & Purpose

“When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of ages—they seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.”
Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990


Mutual Aid

In 1911... at least nine million of the 12 million covered by national insurance were already members of voluntary sick pay schemes. A similar proportion were also eligible for medical care.
Green, Reinventing Civil Society


Education

“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State


Living Under Law

Law being too tenuous to rely upon in [Ulster and the Scottish borderlands], people developed patterns of settling differences by personal fighting and family feuds.
Thomas Sowell, Conquests and Cultures


German Philosophy

The primary thing to keep in mind about German and Russian thought since 1800 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


Knowledge

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


Chappies

“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
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison


Democratic Capitalism

I mean three systems in one: a predominantly market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all. In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: a democratic polity, an economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is plural and, in the largest sense, liberal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


Action

The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness... But to make a man act [he must have] the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action


Churches

[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm


 

©2007 Christopher Chantrill