by Christopher Chantrill
January 26, 2005
The primary thing to keep in mind about German and Russian thought since1800 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
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
Knowledge begins with a problem.
Christopher Chantrill, after John Dewey
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 in Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison
Don Beck/Clare Graves. Don Beck wrote Spiral Dynamics with Christopher Cowan. Their book is a culmination of a century of developmental psychology that begins with the American psychologist James Mark Baldwin and reaches an apogee with the work of Clare Graves. Beck proposes to understand human behavior and motivation with an eight turn spiral of human consciousness, from barely self-conscious to tribal to impulsive, to purposeful, to creative, to communitarian, to integrated, to holistic.
Friedrich Hayek mounted the first great challenge to the welfare state with The Road to Serfdom, arguing that it would lead to the same all-powerful state as that desired by the fascists and the communists, but by easy stages. His Constitution of Liberty was an attempt to imagine a government free from the encroachment of administrative law and rational planning.
Ludwig von Mises was the genius who pointed out in the 1920s that socialism was impossible because it couldnt compute prices. His great Human Action was a mid-twentieth century masterpiece that attempted to extend economics into a general theory of human action.
F.S.C. Northrop was a Yale law professor who went to Germany in the 1920s to get his PhD and learned about modern physics. He learned how the Kantian tradition in Germany regarded the Anglo-American empirical tradition as hopelessly outdated and naive. He also understood, after World War II, how Kant had opened a Pandoras Box that led to the brilliant mistakes of Fichte, Hegel, Marx, and Nietzsche and the evil of Hitler. His Meeting of East and West written just after World War II was a work of true multiculturalism, showing how the great high cultures of the world were complementary, and that by joining the excessively deductive culture of the West to the excessively inductive culture of the East we could achieve a true meeting of East and West.
Michael Novak wrote The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism to challenge the liberation theology that was popular in the Catholic Church in the 1970s. He proposes a Greater Separation of Powers beyond the practical separation of government branches. He differentiates society into a political sector, an economic sector, and a religious/cultural sector. These jealous centers of power check and balance each other in our modern cosmopolitan society.
Camille Paglia is a feisty Amazon who has interpreted western art in early Nietzschean terms as the struggle between Apollo and Dionysius. Her Sexual Personae reminds us that civilization is just a thin Apollonian veneer that we have constructed to shut out the terror of the Dionysian turmoil just beneath the surface.
Roger Scruton is a British philosopher and conservative. He calls himself both a person of the rational Enlightenment and an old-fashioned Englishman. Son of an atheistic Communist he found that he had to make the choice between reform and revolution in the Paris student riots of May 1968. He describes his turn to conservatism eloquently in Why I Became a Conservative. But his conservatism was scandalous in the left-wing academy of Britain. He was for a time a Professor of Aesthetics at Birkbeck College but had to leave the suffocating left-wing atmosphere. He founded and edited the conservative Salisbury Review for many years and has written several books on philosophy, including Kant and An Intelligent Persons Guide to Philosophy. A cultural and political conservative Scruton has expressed his conservative politics in books like A Political Philosophy: Arguments for Conservatism, and his cultural conservatism in titles like Modern Culture. Scruton has written novels and two operas, and rides to hounds (i.e. foxhunting).
Rodney Stark and his merry men are sociologists of religion that have mounted an insurgency against the established notion that western society is in a process of irrevocable secularization and that soon, religion just wont matter much any more. Instead they argue in The Churching of America and many other books that religion evolves in waves of secularization and revival. Anyway, how do you account for the fact that religious adherence in the United States has gone from 17 percent in 1776 to over 60 percent right now? Particularly annoying to his critics is his symbolization of preachers as religious entrepreneurs and churches as religious firms.
Frederick Turner is an English professor in Texas. His Culture of Hope and his Shakespeares Twenty-first Century Economics describe his vision of a society that has vaulted optimistically out of the current elites death spiral into postmodernist despair. He proposes that modern business society is not just a matter of dry contracts and the cash nexus. The Merchant of Venice demonstrated, for anyone who would pay attention, that business requires not just rules and pounds of flesh, but mercy, that falleth like the gentle rain from heaven.
Eric Voegelin belongs to a generation of sadder, wiser Germans that responded to the disaster of 1914-45 by going back to the origins of the Judeo-Hellenistic-Christian tradition. In his monumental Order and History he attempted to refound the western experience as a search for order. Voegelin attacked the universal practice of stigmatizing old ways of thinking as superstition, your Lie that must be destroyed because it stands in the way of my Truth. He proposed that each advance in human understanding was a leap in being that led from compact ways of knowing to more differentiated knowledge.
Ken Wilber attempts to merge the eastern consciousness of Hinduism and Buddhism with western developmental psychology to produce a comprehensive world view in his Sex, Ecology, Spirituality and many other books. Central to his thought is the notion that we transcend and include old ways, rather than replace them, as we evolve. (Note the connection with the Voegelinian leap in being.) Powered with money from the 1990s tech bubble, he is developing Integral Institute into a vehicle for his ideas.
David T. Beito is Associate Professor at the University of Alabama. His books From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State told the story of the fraternal associations that thrived before the advent of the welfare state and The Voluntary City imagines the city freed from the dead hand of liberal compulsion. His books have surfaced important information about the road to the middle class.
John Boyd was a maverick Air Force officer who developed the basis of modern jet fighter tactics. His idea is called E-M theory, relating an aircrafts energy and maneuverability. Then he went on to military strategy, extending the state of military art from the German achievements in infiltration tactics and blitzkrieg to a concept that clearly belongs in the age of cybernetics, the OODA loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act). The idea is to run your OODA loop faster and more effectively than your enemy so that he becomes disoriented and demoralized. You can read a short article about Boyds life here. SeeBoydâ€™s Patterns of Conflict presentation slides here.
David G. Green is Director the Institute for the Study of Civil Society. Dr David Green had been at the Institute of Economic Affairs since 1984, and Director of the IEA Health and Welfare Unit since 1986. He was a Labour councillor in Newcastle upon Tyne from 1976 until 1981, and from 1981 to 1983 was a Research Fellow at the Australian National University in Canberra. See his Reinventing Civil Society.
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
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.
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison
At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing
[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
Civil Societya complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churchesbuilds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust
In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, The Scientist as Rebel
Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says we should....
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity
What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph
When we received Christ, Phil added, all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh
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