Defining “Moral Imagination”

Cross-posted at First Things Inspired by Patrick Deenan’s outstanding essay about sociologist and cultural philosopher Robert Nisbet, I’d like to define a term that appears as a theme in his work and was popularized by Russell Kirk: the moral imagination. (The term comes from Edmund Burke, and its quotation is below the fold.) It can [Read More…]

Cicero and Conservatism

(Cross-posted at First Things) It is, usually, far too awkward to import great figures of antiquity into current political discussions. That said, let’s give it a shot. Thinking through the definitions of conservatism, it seemed to me plausible that a conservative could perhaps make a claim to Cicero. This would assume an “imaginative,” not a [Read More…]

Abortion and Democracy

Ross Douthat (or, as I’ve nicknamed him, “he who should be read every Tuesday”) has a very good column about the politics of abortion in the wake of Tiller’s murder. The judicial fiat of Roe v. Wade is far and away the largest impediment to compromise and thus significant improvement in the climate of this [Read More…]

An “Old Spiritualist” on Catholicism

Recently, I was fortunate to spend an extended period of time at the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal as my dissertation and book proposal on modern American political thought rounds the corner. Annette Kirk, from an old and very activist New York Catholic family, was extraordinarily generous with her time and with documents about [Read More…]

Appreciation of Place

Cross posted at Postmodern Conservative Postmodernism, a critique of the over-ambitious nature of Enlightenment rationalism, is the beginning of an age deeply disenchanted with modernity. What is modernity and (following the most powerful of Twentieth Century constructs) its –ism? This generalization strikes me as a decent one: modernism and its stylistic descendants can be reasonably [Read More…]

Darwin at 200

As the two hundredth anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin is noted across the world, it is fitting that researchers continue to make landmark discoveries that may well dramatically inform the understandings of our ancestry (learn more about “Ida” here). This is an exciting time for those interested in evolutionary change and biological difference. [Read More…]

Book Review: On Deaf Ears

It is always good to read, whenever possible, arguments from the “other side” of where one’s sentiments tend to exist. One scholar of political science who has been throwing buckets of cold water on the work of political theorists for years is George C. Edwards. His book On Deaf Ears: The Limits of the Bully [Read More…]

A Postmodern Conservatism? Part VI

A Postmodern Conservatism? Part I A Postmodern Conservatism? Part II A Postmodern Conservatism? Part III A Postmodern Conservatism? Part IV A Postmodern Conservatism? Part V (Cross-posted at First Things) The embrace of uncertainty is an intersection of two large and confusing terms, postmodernism and conservatism. The “postmodern conservative” is skeptical of new models and standards [Read More…]

Durkheim and Nisbet

Sociologists Emile Durkheim and Robert Nisbet are influential yet understudied today given the rise of social science methodology within that discipline. I think they would have much that is valuable to say were they alive now, and much that would conform to Catholic thought. Justice, they thought, requires virtuous forms of life from all members [Read More…]

Betjeman: An Appreciation

John Betjeman was a truly outstanding poet – among the greatest of the 20th Century and likely the most popular English poet of his time. Yet it could still be argued he is underappreciated. The author of lovely poems about life, his homeland, and Christianity, he was a devout Anglican and devoted family man racked [Read More…]