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).

RSS Feed

Courtly love

From Leithart

A former student, Matt Dau, commented on reading David Bentley Hart’s description of postmodernism and the sublime that it seemed very similar to the courtly love tradition - the dominating attraction of one’s life is the inaccessible beauty of the beloved. Judging from . . . . Continue Reading »

Bataille and Danielou

From Leithart

Holsinger argues ( Premodern Condition ) that Bataille, despite writing a somme atheologique was not so much attacking or parodying Thomism as critiquing Thomas with resources taken from inside the medieval Catholic tradition. As an illustration of his “intellectual open-mindedness vis-a-vis . . . . Continue Reading »

Old and new Thomists

From Leithart

Bruce Holsinger gives this summary of the conflict between “traditional” Thomists and the advocates of nouvelle theologie during the early decades of the 20th century: “What infuriated . . . the [traditionalist] neo-Thomists about the nouvelle theologie was what they perceived as . . . . Continue Reading »

Jesus and Covenant of works

From Leithart

In what sense did Jesus fulfill the covenant of works? He is clearly the last Adam (Rom 6), and reverses the work of the first Adam. But unless we assume that Torah is a straightforward republication of the covenant of works, then any claims about Jesus fulfilling the covenant of works has to be . . . . Continue Reading »

Foucault the conservative

From Leithart

Foucault is normally classified as a radical postmodern, but there is a strong “conservative” thrust to his work on the prison and other “disciplinary” mechanisms of the early modern period. His attention is mainly on the social, architectural, and political mechanisms that . . . . Continue Reading »

Architecture of control

From Leithart

One of the key themes of Foucault’s work is an effort to uncover the social conditions of modern individualism. He suggests that the idea that “the model of a society that has individuals as its constituent elements is borrowed from the abstract juridical forms of contract and . . . . Continue Reading »

Politics and visibility

From Leithart

Discussing Bentham’s vision of the panopticon, Foucault notes that Bentham’s vision inverts the relationship of visibility and power. Traditional power was made visible in various sorts of symbols - crowns, robes, rituals; the powerful displayed their power in public, and this public . . . . Continue Reading »

Plague v. Leprosy

From Leithart

Foucault draws an intriguing political contrast between the “rituals of exclusion” that arise with lepers and the “disciplinary confinement” that constituted the response to the plague. Leprosy and its rules of “rejection, of exile-exclusion” produces a . . . . Continue Reading »

Priesthood of Believers

From Leithart

At various points in Discipline and Punish , Foucault notes how monastic discipline provided a model for early modern society forms. Factories were compared to monasteries not only in their organization but also in the spiritual dimension of factory management. Time-tables and rigorous . . . . Continue Reading »

Roofless factory

From Leithart

The “roofless factory” of some contemporary capitalist theory and practice reverses one of the basic drives of modern economic life. Bringing all workers into a single location under a single roof was one of the main features of the early modern factory system, and provided not only the . . . . Continue Reading »