Victor Davis Hanson In The New Criterion: Haven’t We Heard This Before?

Full article here.

Of course, he’s got some good points:

“As defenders of a unique discipline inextricably linked to the origin of American values and traditions, classicists also need to introduce the Greeks and Romans to a wider public, both to enrich contemporary American society and to bring both an ability to popularize and a much needed pragmatism to what has otherwise become a stultifying and often pedantically narrow field.”

Not much here you won’t find in Allan Bloom (which I think gets some things right and some things very wrong).  Values?  Well, the Greeks and Romans are important I suppose.  Anyways, we’ve gotten away from our intellectual roots:

“In acknowledgment of such frequent controversies and loud revisionism, the compromise is that “Western civilization” continues to metamorphose into something known as “World Civilizations”: India, China, Africa, and the New World merit roughly the same attention in the university core curriculum as the West, inasmuch as they are merely “different,” hardly less influential in the formation of Western and now global civilization.”

Okay, I’ll bite, there do seem to be some departments in universities intellectually adrift, too easily tethered to a set of ideas (certain French philsophers, moral relativism, probably even in response to logical positivism) that thus could be tethered to deeper classical, and Western ideas.  

Though as for the hubris of moral relativism, Hanson’s mixing of current politics and philosophy seems just as, if not more, guilty of hubris.  

Maybe I’ll just read Aristotle on my own…with an open and focused mind, asking questions.  Aren’t other people doing this in universities…without political agendas?

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2 thoughts on “Victor Davis Hanson In The New Criterion: Haven’t We Heard This Before?

  1. Hanson is a tool. His use of the Classical heritage is mainly to prop up an insane and downright evil foreign policy, and, one suspects, equally devious ideas about domestic rule (holding up The Republic as a manual of good governance ought to be a sign…).

    Besides that, I would point out that, even if we decided to restrict ourselves to the confines of Western European culture, Hanson pretty much ignores the massive impact of Semitic influence on the West, conveyed particularly through the Bible. Whether you love or hate or whatever Western medieval culture, it’s rather difficult to escape the pervading presence of the Christian scriptures, not to mention Christianity as a whole. Granted, in the West Christianity takes on a decidedly Roman feel, and all of Christianity, even in the hinterlands of the Church of the East, has a huge Hellenic component. Yet one cannot escape the influence of the Bible, which means Semitic culture and influence, on a massive, pervasive scale. That Hanson would ignore this is hardly surprising- it does not exactly vibe with his grand East vs. West project. Yet ignoring the impact of a Semitic religion on Greek and Roman culture and history is rather like ignoring the impact of electricity and the internal combustion engine on the history of the twentieth century.

  2. chr1

    Jonathan, thanks for commenting.

    As for The Greeks, their civilization rose and fell largely before Christ. The Romans slowly became Christian but this was by no means a given from what I understand.

    If by Semitic, you mean Jewish, the Torah, one God, ISaac and Abraham, then that is dated around the second century B.C.

    The Republic is worth reading, but I”m wondering why Hanson in so interested in telling me so. He’s not saying anything that hasn’t been said better already (a line of thought that has many flaws in my opinion).

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