Here’s Roger Sandall’s blog (smart arguments against Romanticism, among other good ideas). I’ll snag two quotes:
His own description of his essays:
They attack modern decadence, defend science, and laugh at academic follies. Sometimes controversial but never party political, they might praise the Pope in one place and Al Gore in another.”
“His [Sandall’s] guiding philosophy is suggested by the saying that life is a comedy for those who think, and a tragedy for those who feel.”
Reading his blog reminded me of the differences between John Stuart Mill and Thomas Carlyle as expressed in this New Yorker article.
What struck me most is that Mill applies highly rational thinking to liberal principles. This seems strange in light of our current two-party split, where liberalism is too readily associated with “feeling.” It’s odd to think that of the two men, Carlyle (who grew more conservative) is the more choleric, intuitive, and less rational in many ways, and Mill the more tempered, logical and rational.
I could be persuaded that investigation into liberal, rational principles wouldn’t hurt right now, and of course, I’m not the first nor last to think such thoughts.
See Also: Christopher Hitchens’ long arc from committed Trotskyite to anti-religious atheist…but maybe what I’m noticing here is that habit and one’s relation to the passions (artististic or otherwise) die hard. I was glad that the Independent noticed it too.
Addition: Review of a new Mill biography here.
My belated condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Roger Sandall, who passed away on August 11th, 2012. He was an Australian thinker and critic of cultural relativism, romantic-primitivism and the Noble Savage. He was a keen observer of the ways in which certain strains of Western thought interact with the non-Western, and often, tribal worlds.