Friday, March 02, 2007

Book Notes

The Conservative Soul by Andrew Sullivan

conservatism - preserving past
fundamentalism - erasing past and starting fresh (born again)

conservatism - acceptance of imperfection in human nature
fundamentalism - necessity of perfection

conservatism - premise of human error
fundamentalism - fact of divine truth

conservatism - permanence of human nature
fundamentalism - apocalypse in which human nature is remade

conservatism - pragmatism and context in political choices
fundamentalism - Biblical literalism and absolutism

leftist fundamentalism -- racial justice/affirmative action, speech restrictions for tolerance, school-based multicultural indoctrination, government-funding of abortions.

Religious and leftist fundamentalists share the conviction neutrality is a sham -- that the law is always pushing someone's agenda, so it better be theirs (Stanley Fish and Deconstructionism on the left, James Dobson on the right) The fundamentalist right, for example, believes that for the law to merely permit an activity implies social endorsement or "seal of approval" (pornography, homosexual conduct, divorce, etc.)

Oakeshott's concept that wisdom can be accumulated through the doing of things (and therefore the importance of tradition over theories) -- the wheelwright asks the Duke if the great thinkers who wrote the book are still alive. oh, no, they are dead. "In that case, what you are reading can be nothing but the less and scum of bygone men. . .In my opinion, it must have been the same with men of old. All that was worth handing on died with them; the rest they put in their books."

The founders, of course, anticipated that individuals like George W. Bush would seek glory and honor by winning over the executive office. They knew of Aristotle's description of "thymos" . . . And so they set up a scheme in which much of the energy of these entities would be directed toward fighting each other.

Nice description resurgent West's triumvirate of as a former B-actor, an English chemist, and a Polish priest/playwright.