Category: Fleming

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Samuel Johnson, Our Greatest Moralist, Part D: The Problem of Pain (FREE)

Rasselas is probably Dr. Johnson’s most accessible piece of moral philosophy.  Since we shall be posting a podcast on the work, the treatment here can be quite limited.  Rasselas is a sort of a picaresque novel that tells the story of a young Abyssinian prince who, with his sister and mentor, leave the Happy Valley, an earthly paradise where the prince, his sisters, and their companions and attendants, enjoy every possible comfort and pleasure.  Rasselas, however, is not happy but is  possessed of what seems to be a romantic delusion that he should desire something.  He imagines that there is...

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Samuel Johnson, Our Greatest Moralist, Part C

To understand what Johnson was doing in his moral essays, we have to know something of the revolution he was opposing: the philosophies of abstraction that were taking hold in his lifetime.  Since the 18th century at least, we have been asked to identify ourselves and our duty with all of humanity and its needs, and to take a dim view of any lesser loyalties to kith and kin, religion and country.  Although these ideas of universal charity and duty are usually identified with Christianity, they derive not from the Bible directly or from Christian theology, but from the attempts...

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Samuel Johnson, Our Greatest Moralist,Part B

In recent times, Samuel Johnson is remembered primarily for his quips, retorts, and for Boswell’s portrayal of his ferocious character.  Johnson’s prose style and flashes of brilliance are enough to win over most readers who take any pleasure in English literature.  My own particular interest, however, is in this moral philosophy, which can be traced in essays that appeared in The Rambler, The Idler, his review of Soame Jennyings, and in his one novel, Rasselas.  To anticipate my general conclusion, I should say at the beginning that, although he developed his ethical thought in occasional essays and fiction,  he was...

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Down With “the Arts”!

Art is a noble human attempt to make beauty and sense out of human experience.  “The Arts” are an ignoble scam by which no-talent bums force the taxpayers to subsidize their indolence.  I received an email today from a friend who has done good work in one of the more popular arts.  He is an enthusiastic Trump supporter, but he was calling upon his friends to “do what we can to reverse this ill advised decision before it is too late.” My distinguished friend’s argument is that the Trump administration will be “throwing away an opportunity to move the culture and...

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The Modern Constitution–Blueprint for Revolution

I hates the Constitution, This Great Republic too “That’s unconstitutional!”  Hardly a day goes by that we do not hear some proposal of the Trump administration denounced as a violation of the Constitution.  It is beginning to appear that NPR and other organs of the revolutionary left cannot invoke Trump’s name without throwing in “unconstitutional,” something in the way that “swift-footed” always precedes Achilles. A good example of this rhetorical tactic is the headline Unamericans for Disunity (or is it Americans United ?) put on their latest propaganda screed: “AU Continues The Legal Fight Against President Trump’s Unconstitutional Muslim Ban.”  Counting...

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Properties of Blood II.1: The Family Castle, Part B

The Independent Household Thousands of volumes have been published on every aspect of family and household, and, for a work on the history of these institutions, there may be hundreds of books worth consulting.  This is not, I hasten to assure you my readers, a work of family history, though I shall have to burrow into some of the  details—not at too tedious  length, I hope—of the several cultural traditions that have formed our own:  Greek, Roman, Jewish, Medieval European, and early American. However, before digging into the details of history and law, let us try to form a “big...

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Women of the World Unite:  You Have Nothing to Lose but Your Freedom and Dignity.

“Two paradises ’twere in one To live in paradise alone” Reading those lines from “the Garden,” an incautious reader might imagine that the poet—Andrew Marvell—did not limit his Puritan tendencies to theology and politics but hated womankind with the fury of a John Knox.  In fact, Marvell was a woman-loving man who wrote several of the best erotic (I don’t mean dirty!) poems in English.  God bless him: He was only a hypocrite. Marvell’s lines came to mind when I read news of the feminist plans to mark today’s international celebration of women by refusing to go to work.  At first...

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“Neo-Segregation” and the Suicide of the American Right

Students at the University of Michigan have taken the lead in the Left’s campaign to criminalize White People.  Following a string of student movements at other leading institutions devoted to the debasement of learning, non-white students at Michigan are demanding their own “permanent designated space on central campus for Black students and students of color to organize and do social justice work.”  This comes on the heels of the construction of a $10 million Black Student Center, which is insufficient proof of Michigan’s commitment to genocide. With the predictable knee-jerk that is the hallmark of their movement, American conservatives are...

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Properties of Blood I.4, Part G: “The Duty to Retreat”

In an influential book on the duty to retreat, American historian Richard Maxwell Brown takes the conventional position that individualistic Americans broke with English legal tradition in order in order to give full vent to their violence and racism—and here he cites as witnesses Abraham Lincoln and Gunnar Myrdall.  In the tradition of English law, Brown argues in his first chapter, homicide even in self-defense was criminal unless the killer had made a serious effort to escape his attacker by retreating to a point from which he could retreat no farther: In England the burden was on the one accused...

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The Xanthippe, Part 5

In the last installment we heard Xanthippe as she refuted Plato’s argument for a society run by experts Xanthippe: Do you really want to live in a world made in the image of Plato and run by his mirror-images.  We should all be slaves or those mechanical servants that waited on King Alcinous in Phaeacia.  Surely, you remember the Odyssey ? Pheidippides:  That’s giving it to him, auntie! Part 5 Xanthippe:  And you think the same argument doesn’t apply to you? Pheidippides:  Not me, I believe in free markets, remember? Xanthippe: I don’t want to go through all of this...