I want to thank everyone who has been following along, but with today’s entry I regret to report that I have to close the book club earlier than anticipated. What follows is an explanation coupled with some brief thoughts on chapters 11-12. Continue reading
In the interest of expediency—due to the fact that I’m covering five chapters (252 pages)—this installment will follow a mechanical format. I’ll be concentrating on facts and highlights instead of constructing a review narrative with lots of reflection. I hope to resume that format next week. Continue reading
I’m a sucker for any historical reading related to the Enlightenments in Europe and America. Why? The expansion of knowledge. The romance of scientific discovery. New ways of thinking about religion. Skepticism about received values and traditions. Belief, however naive, in the ideas of progress and reason. Beyond the topics and ideas, it’s also the outstanding figures: Voltaire, Montesquieu, Denis Diderot, Francis Bacon, John Locke, Isaac Newton, David Hume, René Descartes, Immanuel Kant, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Adam Smith, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and on and on. Continue reading
These chapters, meaning three and four, were hard for this modern Americanist. I’m a post-Civil War historian with broad interests, but reading the historical details from English events and people dating from the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), the English Civil War (1642-1651), Restoration (1660-1688), and Glorious Revolution tested my professional patience. Continue reading
Chapter One – Born in Bloodshed: The Origins of Democracy
Chronologically speaking, this is the broadest chapter. Its survey of the precursors of pre-modern democratic thought moves us from the Greeks to Reformation Europe, and a bit beyond. It covers 500 BCE to roughly ~1600 CE. Continue reading
Next week the spring semester begins here at the University Oklahoma. For the first time, I’ll be using the second volume of the 7th edition of David Hollinger and Charles Capper’s The American Intellectual Tradition in my American Social Thought honors course. One of the changes to the 7th edition of AIT was the inclusion, almost at the end of the volume, of a piece by Barack Obama, “A More Perfect Union” (2008). More commonly known simply as “the race speech,” this was the address he gave as his first presidential campaign dealt with a crisis during primary season over remarks by his pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. With the Obama presidency coming to an end just as my course begins, I’ve been thinking a lot in recent days about the appearance of this piece in The American Intellectual Tradition and about Barack Obama as an intellectual .
Obama is far from the only president represented in the pages of The American Intellectual Tradition. Volume I includes multiple works by John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Abraham Lincoln. Volume II is notably less presidential. Besides Obama, only Woodrow Wilson appears. And Obama’s speech was the only piece by a president newly added to either volume in the 7th edition. Continue reading
[Updated: 2/16/2017, 8:10 pm, central. – TL]
I regret to report that I’m unexpectedly on the road this week for family matters. The travel is leaving me with little keyboard and desk time. So today I’ll simply post the reading schedule, in preparation for next four entries—which will cover a lot of ground in the book. – TL Continue reading
I’ve been pretty inactive on the blog in recent weeks. I wish it could tell you that it was entirely because I was busy doing other work-related tasks. However, while this is a busy time of the semester, the truth is that this election campaign has pretty much taken up all my emotional energy.
Under the best of circumstances, I tend to be a political junky, prone to obsessive concern over elections and their outcomes. Heck, I even stayed up late watching Canadian election returns a little over a year ago. But this election weighs on me not merely because it’s important and close, but because of its tone. I feel as if we are currently skating on very, very thin ice. Continue reading