Ivan Karamazov's Mistake

It is has become commonplace to regard Ivan Karamazov’s “Legend of the Grand Inquisitor” as a prescient parable glorifying human freedom and defending it against the kind of totalitarian threats it would face in the twentieth century. Fyodor Dostoevsky’s angry atheist delivers an uncanny . . . . Continue Reading »

The Achievement of Alasdair MacIntyre

Moral philosophers are caught in a peculiar paradox these days. On the one hand, their field is flourishing: No longer intimidated by the logical positivists (who denied truth to moral assertions except as expressions of likes and dislikes), thinkers as diverse as Iris Murdoch, Martha Nussbaum, and . . . . Continue Reading »

Doing Christian Philosophy

Reasoned Faithedited by Eleanor Stumpecho point books & media, $34.95A decade ago, the well-respected Christian philosopher Alvin Plantinga urged Christian thinkers to philosophize not only for skeptics but for their own faith communities. Christian philosophers, he argued, should do Christian . . . . Continue Reading »

The Illusion of Moral Neutrality

I Nietzsche claimed that if men took God seriously, they would still be burning heretics at the stake. In the same spirit, one supposes, are the notions that if men really cherished moral truth, they would suppress all beliefs that they considered wrong, and that if men still cared about the . . . . Continue Reading »

History in the Past Perfect

Is not the past large enough to let you find some place where you may disport yourself without becoming ridiculous? —Nietzsche It is nothing new for poets, painters, and philosophers to harken back to Utopian “golden ages” when greatness or harmony flourished. The German Romantics . . . . Continue Reading »

The Philosophical Crusher

We milk the cow of the world, and as we do We whisper in her ear, “You are not true.” —Richard Wilbur “Before we dismantle this imposing structure, let’s step back a moment and admire its elegant lines.” Thus Alex Tourigny, my teacher of philosophical psychology forty years . . . . Continue Reading »

Beyond Liberty

This Hemisphere of Liberty: A Philosophy of the Americas by michael novak aei press, 153 pages, $18.95 We are nearly two years into the post-Cold War era—an era as yet without a name—and we have awakened to the sobering reality that democracy is easier to desire than it is to sustain. . . . . Continue Reading »

The Achievement of Jacques Maritain

Although the twentieth century was often proclaimed by the church to be the “Age of the Laity,” it remains true that most Catholic discourse is still taken up with the words of popes, bishops, priests, and sisters. Nonetheless, as in the nineteenth century so in the twentieth, a number of lay . . . . Continue Reading »

Restoring the God of their Fathers

The Emergence of Jewish Theology in Americaby robert g. goldyindiana university press, 149 pages, $25 Judaism was born in the Fertile Crescent when a young Semite, deeply troubled by his own sense of incompleteness and guilt, answered God’s call, and in so doing started a chosen people that would . . . . Continue Reading »

1789: A Requiem

Perhaps no English poem was more frequently cited during France’s 1989 Bicentennial year than William Wordsworth’s Prelude, in Book XI of which one finds “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, / But to be young was very Heaven!” Anyone unfamiliar with the poet’s biography might reasonably . . . . Continue Reading »