Getting Burke Right
A Review of Patriotism and Public Spirit by Ian Crowe
"The Secular Body: Anthropocentric Knowledge in the Encyclopedia of Diderot and d’Alembert," By Harrison Dietzman
For a project of unprecedented ambition and audacity, the Encyclopedia of Diderot and d’Alembert has garnered little attention from scholars of the humanities writing in English. The massive twenty-eight-volume compendium, authored during the years leading up to the French Revolution, purported to “set forth as well as possible the order and connection of the parts of human knowledge.”
"A Review of Michael Winship’s Godly Republicanism," By Glenn Moots
When scholars rediscovered the Puritans in the twentieth century, many of them took cues from the century before. Following the lead of Alexis de Tocqueville, Lyman Beecher, and Rufus Choate, they cast the Puritans as central players in Whig histories of liberty and democracy. Some dissented by casting the Puritan legacy as one of authoritarianism. . . . Others dissented by asserting that Anglo-American republicanism traced its lineage from ancient or early modern secular sources and not from early modern English churchmen. . . . Such disagreement has had the salutary effect of encouraging more scholars to reexamine their assumptions about who read what, when, why, and how. . . . Michael Winship has boldly entered this controversy by titling his study of Puritans and Pilgrims Godly Republicanism. As you can probably figure out from the title, Winship asserts an important heritage for what he calls the “applied sacred political theory” articulated by Puritans and separatists in particular.
"Questioning Everything: Sextus Empiricus and Skepticism as a Way of Getting Along in a Modern Political Culture," By Coyle Neal
More than a thousand years before Descartes and Hume, Sextus Empiricus challenged the premises of everything. In a world dominated by dogmatic belief systems (especially Stoicism, Platonism in all its varieties, and, increasingly, Christianity), the skeptic thinkers continually demanded a reexamination of the basic assumptions at the root of existing political, cultural, moral, and philosophical beliefs. This article surveys that demand for reexamination in its political context through the writing of Sextus Empiricus and his contributions for the search for individual autonomy and peace (ataraxia) in an increasingly hostile, distant, and fragmented political system. Ancient skepticism offered an alternative view of the world which is worthy of attention today as we face renewed economic, political, and cultural challenges. While Sextus Empiricus does not offer solutions to these contemporary problems, his skepticism presents both a useful pattern for formulating the correct questions and a fascinating guide to living in a world which seems to abound with wrong questions and wrong answers alike.
"WHAT’S WRONG WITH OCKHAM? Reassessing the Role of Nominalism in the Dissolution of the West," By Joshua P. Hochschild
Unlike many other well-known medieval thinkers, Ockham was not a theologian; he remained throughout his career a teacher of “arts,” which is to say, of philosophy, and he is known primarily as a logician. It is in this area that Ockham can truly be said to be an innovator, and it is here that we need to turn to grasp what is meant by his “nominalism.”