Best of the web lately

Lawrence Auster has a very nice review of Louis de Bonald’s “On Divorce”.

In effect, Bonald supplements the classic understanding of the soul and its virtues with the insight from the Western religious tradition that the constitution of man’s being consists of “natural relationships with his being’s author” and with his fellow men. As human beings we participate in three distinct societies–religious; public (the state); and domestic (the family)–which operate according to common principles. Just as there is a supreme Cause that willed the world and a universal Minister by whom the world was made and through whom it is saved, so in the state there are laws, ministers that carry out the laws, and subjects. In the family, it is the father who functions as power, the mother as minister, and the child as subject. Reading Bonald, we need to look beyond this hierarchical scheme, which appears so strange and forbidding to our eyes, to the inner core that animates it: the experience of religious truth as the ultimate source and paradigm of legitimate authority and community.

Bonald is a tough-minded exponent of the classic and Christian view that our native penchant for disorder must be repressed for our true nature to be fulfilled; “Be thou perfect.” said the supreme lawgiver of our civilization. But the Rousseauian democratic notion that “man is perfect in his native state and is depraved by society” threw this natural order on its head, denying any authority in God, making all human customs seem arbitrary, and reducing parents and children to the merely biological status of “males,” females,” and “young” (or, in today’s unispeak, “moms.” “dads,” and “kids”). With this collapse of the human constitution, Bonald argues, “there were still fathers, mothers, and children in France, but there was no longer a power in the family, no longer a minister, no longer a subject, no longer a domestic society; and political society was shaken to its very foundations.”

Through Edward Feser, I’ve come across this entertaining re(de)valuation of the Renaissance:

Then everything came to a stop. Given the scientific and mathematical works of Descartes and Galileo, but no chronological information, one might suppose the authors were students of Oresme. Galileo’s work on moving bodies is the next step after Oresme’s physics; Cartesian geometry follows immediately on Oresme’s work on graphs. But we know that the actual chronological gap was 250 years, during which nothing whatever happened in these fields. Nor did any thing of importance occur in any other branches of science in the two centuries between Oresme and Copernicus. Other intellectual fields have no more to offer. Histories of philosophy are naturally able to name philosophers between 1350 and 1600, but their inclusion seems to be on the same principle as world maps which include Wyndham, WA, but leave out Wollongong – big blank spaces must be filled. While it is almost impossible to find an English translation of any philosopher in the three hundred years between Scotus and Descartes, it is not a lack one feels acutely….

The literary end of intellectual life did not fare much better than science, except that the slump was not quite so long. Rather than protest, as is usual, about the difficulty of confining historical movements within definite dates, I am happy to name the fifteenth century as coinciding quite accurately with the decline of literature. Chaucer died in 1400; the next writers that anyone still reads are Erasmus, More, Rabelais and Machiavelli, just after 1500.

He [Petrarch] pulled off the century’s most amazing propaganda stunt by having himself crowned as poet on the Capitoline Hill, reviving a supposed classical tradition. This was to celebrate, he said, the rebirth of poetry after a thousand years. Even if the troubadour lyrics, the Eddas and the Roman de la Rose had never been written, the idea of someone announcing the rebirth of poetry thirty years after Dante’s death is just a disgrace.

Matt Parrott at Alternative Right on the empty promises of feminism:

The illusions they cling to are comfortable, while reality is anything but: They’re not sexually liberating themselves—they’re forfeiting the leverage nature gave them in the battle of the sexes to a subset of slick pick-up artists. Their barren wombs are not about “family planning”, they’re about not planning to have a family. Their careers are not making them independent, dependence is simply being transferred from husbands and fathers to Big Brother. That’s well and good for their personal interests as long as the economy is strong, the government is solvent, and the pensions are well-funded. But are those safe bets?

R. R. Reno on whether Shia Islam in Iran is about to have an Investiture Controversy moment.

One Response

  1. The feminism article is particularly good. The Empire is cool as long as it pays your pension 😉

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