Peter J. Leithart is President of the Theopolis Institute, Birmingham, Alabama, and an adjunct Senior Fellow at New St. Andrews College. He is author, most recently, of Gratitude: An Intellectual History (Baylor).

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Language and the world

From Leithart

According to Claude Duret (writing in 1613), Hebrew alone among the languages preserves the original meanings of language, naming the proper essence of things: “Thus the stork, so greatly lauded for it charity towards it father and its mother, is called in Hebrew Chasida, which is to say, . . . . Continue Reading »

Plants, stars, and botonical enmity

From Leithart

O Crollius in his 1624 treatise on “signatures” compared stars and plants: “The stars are the matrix of all the plants and every star in the sky is only the spiritual prefiguration of a plant, such that it represents that plant, and just as each herb or plant is a terrestrial star . . . . Continue Reading »

One World

From Leithart

Japan beats Cuba in the world baseball competition. According to the NPR report, during the final game, everyone in the stands - Japanese, Cubans, American spectators - does the wave and dances to YMCA by the Village People. After Japan wins, you can hear “We Are the Champions” in the . . . . Continue Reading »

Sermon Outline

From Leithart

INTRODUCTION Through several chapters, the author of Kings has emphasized Yahweh’s faithfulness and mercy to the Northern kingdom. He sent prophets to the Omride kings, and gives Jehu’s dynasty four generations. But when they’ve persisted in sin, their time is up. THE TEXT . . . . Continue Reading »

Hobbes on Gratitude and Justice

From Leithart

Strikingly, Hobbes, like Thomas, treats gratitude under the heading of justice: “Justice of actions is by writers divided into commutative and distributive: and the former they say consisteth in proportion arithmetical; the latter in proportion geometrical. Commutative, therefore, they place . . . . Continue Reading »

Machiavelli on Ingratitude

From Leithart

From Book 1 of the Discourses on Livy: FOR WHAT REASONS THE ROMANS WERE LESS UNGRATEFUL TO THEIR CITIZENS THAN THE ATHENIANS Whoever reads of the things done by Republics will find in all of them some species of ingratitude against their citizens, but he will find less in Rome than in Athens, and . . . . Continue Reading »

What Plato Owed Athens

From Leithart

Socrates’ explanation of his willingness to submit to the laws of Athens, from the Crito. Since he owes the city his very existence, he has no right to renounce the laws when they turn against him: Soc. “And was that our agreement with you?” the law would say, “or were you . . . . Continue Reading »

Renaissance on ingratitude

From Leithart

A few quotations from Renaissance writers on the subject of ingratitude, drawn from Catherine Dunn’s excellent 1946 CUA dissertation on the subject: Lodowick Bryskett argued that ingratitude was contrary to reason: “How shamefull a thing is it therefore to man, that brute beasts should . . . . Continue Reading »

Persians and ingratitude

From Leithart

Xenophon describes the Persian training of boys in the Cyropaedia (1.2.6-7), highlighting the effects of ingratitude: “The boys go to school and give their time to learning justice and righteousness: they will tell you they come for that purpose, and the phrase is as natural with them as it . . . . Continue Reading »

Aristotelian gratitude

From Leithart

Some excerpts from Aristotle’s discussion relevant to gratitude in Nicomachian Ethics. First, a treatment of the reasons for making return on a benefit received (from 9.1): “But who is to fix the worth of the service; he who makes the sacrifice or he who has got the advantage? At any . . . . Continue Reading »