From First Principles: Locke, Our Great Founders, and American Political Life

Full article here.

Maybe there’s something in the air, but there seems to be a trend toward re-considering religion’s role in society in many political/philosophical quarters lately.

Perhaps it’s due to:  Islamic extremism?  An excessive secularism? A push back against a long period of excessive individualism? Some other forces at work? 

Here’s a post on a Martha Nussbaum essay I put up a few months back:  Martha Nussbaum Channels Roger Williams In The New Republic: The First Founder

From the article, here’s a quote which has the author, Peter Lawler, discussing two recent books on John Locke:

“Brownson and Murray agree that our framers understood themselves primarily as Lockeans but also that their work was less guided by the individualist’s thought than they believed. Brownson pays them the compliment of having been theoretically radical as thinkers but prudently conservative as statesmen. Murray sees them as sort of Thomistic Lockeans; their understanding of Locke’s modern thought was more compromised by traditional debts than they knew. They built so well because they averted their eyes from the voluntaristic and nihilistic depths of modern thought. Their providential—or we might just say lucky—theoretical confusion or in-betweenness, their lack of theoretical greatness, is the cause of our nation’s practical greatness.

The argument here states that because the founders didn’t fully understand (or follow) Locke’s radical individualism to its logical conclusions, they went deeper than they knew.

There’s a standard dig at the French (French perfectionism and theoretical excesses are the enemy of our good) there at the end as well.

Actually,  this just seems like our democracy functioning as it does:  the right is re-grouping and figuring out how to include religion out of political necessity:

“Our healing American task may be to show that Thomism is the true realism, that it reconciles reason and revelation through a realistic account of the whole human being.”

See Also On This Site:  Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam may be resisting such a trend: From Bloggingheads: Jon Chait Not Convinced By ‘The Grand New Party’

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