Link To Roger Scruton’s First Of Three Charles Test Lectures Hosted By Princeton University

In the Q & A afterwards, Scruton receives about as pointed a post-lecture questioning on his metaphysics as I’ve seen.

In the final moments, Robert George also posits that Scruton’s four presented categories actually rather resemble Aristotle’s Order of Nature and three of them Aristotle’s Practical Reason.

Interesting presentation by an interesting thinker, indeed.

Below is some criticism of Scruton from a Kantian-Friesian line of thinking.

Is there a turn back towards the Hegelian ‘we’ from the Kantian ‘I?’

However attractive and practical Scruton’s deployment of the ‘lebenswelt’ in describing the day to day relationships in which we find ourselves (a tissue of contingencies, possibilities and ‘I’ ‘thou’ relationships); however useful the ‘lebenswelt’ might be providing robust criticism of the totalitarian ideologies and scientism of post-Enlightenment ideological utopians, are the Hegelian dangers to abstract, absolutize and collectivize still present?

‘Now, I think that this is an accurate and honest presentation of Wittgenstein’s thought, except perhaps for the notion of “an independent world,” which sounds like a metaphysical assertion; but it also makes it look like Roger Scruton has fallen into the same kind of dark well as the “nonsense machine” of post-modernism that he examined in his other book.

First of all, if we have decided that the “emphasis” of Frege on truth is now to be replaced with the “more fundamental demand” that our language conform to “correctness,” alarm bells should go off. There is in fact nothing more fundamental than truth, if we are talking about knowledge or logic (and not just “communication”); and “correctness” could mean anything, varying with the standard that is applied to judge it. But we quickly get what the standard of “correctness” is, and that is the “common usage” that has “created the rules,” outside of which we cannot “look,” to govern our linguistic practice. These are rules that the invididual cannot decide for himself but that somehow “we,” collectively, in our “form of life” have created.

Key points there are that the autonomous individual and the “independent world” have both dropped out of the treatment. Scruton, as we might suspect for a Hegelian, does not speak up for the individual, but even his explicit invocation of the “independent world” is immediately voided by the assertion that only language itself, in its practice, correctness, and form of life, determines what is going to stand as the equivalent of truth. Thus, the chilling absurdity is that “the ultimate facts are language,” while, naively, we might think that facts are characteristics of the “independent world” that determine truth, as the Early Wittgenstein himself had said. In an objective world without facts, language is the substitute (whose status is somehow established by facts about the world).’

What are some dangers of the projects of reason in the wake of the Enlightenment, or stretching post-Enlightenment reason into a replacement for God, tradition, and Natural Law: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”Trolley Problems, Utilitarian Logic, Liberty, Self-Defense & Property

Leo Strauss tried to tackle that problem, among others with the reason/revelation distinction, did he succeed? How might this relate to the Heglian/post-Marxist project via ‘The End Of History’: Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’

Addition:  As a friend points out:  Strauss is trying to get around the 2nd Nietzschean crisis of modernity, and the cinching and tightening of moral, political, and philosophical thinking into only an Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment pursuit of truth under Reason alone.  The Natural Right and Natural Law Philosophies, including and a pursuit of the truth which can involve religion (Augustine?), or Greek conceptions of the good and the true as applied to the city-state vastly broaden and prevent the inherent nihilism in these waves of modernity as Strauss saw them…historicism being one of these Enlightenment pursuits, from political science to the social sciences to Hegelian and post-Hegelian historicism…the logic is followed to its inherently nihilistic ends.  This poses a threat to individual liberty among other things…

Two Friday Links On Moral & Political Philosophy

Edward Feser: ‘A second-exchange with Keith Parsons, Part II:’

‘I have argued that human biology can have moral import only if interpreted in light of an Aristotelian metaphysics. Keith argues that it ought to be interpreted in light of a purely naturalistic metaphysics. He would interpret the biological functions that ground what is good for us, not as instances of immanent teleology of the sort the traditional Aristotelian affirms, but rather in terms of Darwinian natural selection. As Keith indicates, in this regard his views parallel those of Larry Arnhart.’

Speaking of Larry Arnhart at Darwinian Conservatism, he revisits Steven Pinker’s claim of declining violence and a challenge to it from Leftward.

Does Pinker Show The Bias Of A Pro-Western Imperialist, Capitalist, Elitist and Anti-Communist Ideology?:

‘This is a critical issue for Pinker’s argument because his claim is that it’s classical liberal thought that promotes declining violence, and that most of the atrocious violence of the 20th century was due to the illiberal regimes led by three individuals–Stalin, Hitler, and Mao.’

**Martha Nussbaum has used Aristotle’s natural philosophy.  On this site, see: Bryan Magee Via Youtube: ‘Martha Nussbaum On Aristotle’

Classical Liberalism Via Friesian.Com-’Exchange with Tomaz Castello Branco on John Gray’

On the note of morality being derived from rationalist constructivism and scientism, this blog is still seeking forms of ‘classical’ liberalism in good faith, or a liberalism which runs on consent and which tolerates dissent, a liberalism which supports broad definitions of free speech and recognizes deep disagreement in the public square.  Is Isaiah Berlin’s value-pluralism an option?:  On this site, seeA Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty” …

From Darwinian Conservatism: ‘Nietzsche–Aristocratic Radical or Aristocratic Liberal?’…Here’s Nietzsche scholar J.P. Stern on Nietzsche’s anti-Christian, anti-secular morality (Kant, utilitarians), anti-democratic, and anti-Greek (except the “heroic” Greek) biases……

From Edward Feser: ‘Nagel And His Critics Part IV’

John Gray Reviews Jonathan Haidt’s New Book At The New Republic: ‘The Knowns And The Unknowns’

Steven Pinker somewhat focused on the idea of freedom from violence, which tends to be libertarian. Yet, he’s also skeptical of the more liberal human rights and also religious natural rights. What about a World Leviathan?: At Bloggingheads Steven Pinker Discusses War And Thomas HobbesFrom Reason.TV Via YouTube: ‘Steven Pinker on The Decline of Violence & “The Better Angels of Our Nature”‘Simon Blackburn Reviews Steven Pinker’s “The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial Of Human Nature” Via the University Of Cambridge Philosophy Department

Repost-Charles Murray Lecture At AEI: The Happiness Of People

Link here. (Lecture available for a fee)

So are we drifting to a more “European” lifestyle in America?  Should we question…if not resist….such a trend?

“I have two points to make. First, I will argue that the European model is fundamentally flawed because, despite its material successes, it is not suited to the way that human beings flourish–it does not conduce to Aristotelian happiness. Second, I will argue that twenty-first-century science will prove me right.”

Murray is quite libertarian, and he outlines what he dislikes about the European model on a recent visit to Sweeden:

“In every town was a beautiful Lutheran church, freshly painted, on meticulously tended grounds, all subsidized by the Swedish government. And the churches are empty. Including on Sundays. Scandinavia and Western Europe pride themselves on their “child-friendly” policies, providing generous child allowances, free day-care centers, and long maternity leaves. Those same countries have fertility rates far below replacement and plunging marriage rates. Those same countries are ones in which jobs are most carefully protected by government regulation and mandated benefits are most lavish. And they, with only a few exceptions, are countries where work is most often seen as a necessary evil, least often seen as a vocation, and where the proportions of people who say they love their jobs are the lowest.”

As Murray suggests, the prevailing European secular habit of mind (which shuns overt religious faith) has also transposed a lot of Christian metaphysics (and a lot Marxist/Communist leftist thought) into the modern European state.  Many religious values continue of course, but are also, in part, maintained by that state.  That state, in turn, can limit much dynamism and freedom we take for granted here in the U.S.:

“The problem is this: Every time the government takes some of the trouble out of performing the functions of family, community, vocation, and faith, it also strips those institutions of some of their vitality–it drains some of the life from them.”

This isn’t a bad point to make.  I would also agree with Murray that many many people busy importing such influences to America know not what they do (especially prescient right now, during the economic crisis).  I suppose he’s also implying that despite our depth of religious idealism, our constitution is able to handle it in its pursuit of the negative ideals of life, liberty and happiness.

He also suggests that Europe can’t keep this old model going:

“The European model can’t continue to work much longer. Europe’s catastrophically low birth rates and soaring immigration from cultures with alien values will see to that.”

I suppose we’ll see.

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Is Murray’s point really is to wrest happiness from the standard models of social science and current social trends that point Europeward, progressive and liberal?:

“The drift toward the European model can be slowed by piecemeal victories on specific items of legislation, but only slowed. It is going to be stopped only when we are all talking again about why America is exceptional, and why it is so important that America remain exceptional. That requires once again seeing the American project for what it is: a different way for people to live together, unique among the nations of the earth, and immeasurably precious.”

Something to think about.

See Also:  Murray has more here in the Washington Post.  He argues that there is a deeper philosophical, but mostly, scientific influence that will change the social sciences in the next 50 years or so, and thus, public policy.

Also On This Site:  Gene Expression On Charles Murray: Does College Really Pay Off?…Charles Murray In The New Criterion: The Age Of Educational Romanticism

The NY Times op-ed writer and a practicing Catholic? William Saletan and Ross Douthat At Slate: ‘Liberalism Is Stuck Halfway Between Heaven And Earth’…Douthat’s The Grand New PartyRoss Douthat At First Principles: ‘The Quest for Community in the Age of Obama: Nisbet’s Prescience’

Don’t get Borked, at least if you’re openly religious and aiming for higher office:  Bork had his own view of the 1960′s: A Few Thoughts On Robert Bork’s “Slouching Towards Gomorrah”

Walter Russell Mead takes a look at the blue model (the old progressive model) from the ground up in NYC to argue that it’s simply not working.  Check out his series at The American Interest.  He has a big vision with some holes in it, but it’s one that embraces change boldly.

Once you take apart the old structure, you have to criticize the meritocracy you’ve helped create: David Brooks At The NY Times: ‘Why Our Elites Stink’

Monday Quotation From Charles Kesler And A Few Thoughts on ConservatismCharles Murray At The New Criterion: ‘Belmont & Fishtown’

Bryan Magee Via Youtube: ‘Martha Nussbaum On Aristotle’

Aristotle, as his student, counters Plato’s arguments for an existence of a ideal world of forms, and an immutable soul.    He can also offer serious opposition to the perhaps unnecessary material vs. spiritual dichotomy we often find ourselves in modern times.  Also discussed is his ethics, which unlike utilitarian (happiness) or Kantian (categorical imperative) moral philosophies do not rely wholly on a set of supremely abstract principles to which the full range of human experience would be bound (at least in the same manner).

Thanks to a reader for the link.

Related On This SiteFrom The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha NussbaumMartha Nussbaum In Dissent–Violence On The Left: Nandigram And The Communists Of West Bengal…Trans-Atlantic hubris?: Martha Nussbaum On Eliot Spitzer At The Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionReview-A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’

Here’s Nietzsche scholar J.P. Stern on Nietzsche’s anti-Christian, anti-secular morality (Kant, utilitarians), anti-democratic, and anti-Greek (except the “heroic” Greek) biases…

Some discussion of Plato:  Repost: From the Cambridge Companion To Plato-T.H. Irwin’s “Plato: The intellectual Background’