Recovering Politics, Civilization, and the Soul

978-1-58731-708-8; 978-1-58731-709-5
Forthcoming Books
Paperback $20.00; ebook $20.00
160 pages, 6" x 9", Pub Date: November, 2022

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Recovering Politics, Civilization, and the Soul

Essays on Pierre Manent and Roger Scruton

Mahoney, Daniel J.

The Western inheritance is under sustained theoretical and practical assault. Legitimate self-criticism has given way to nihilistic self-loathing and cultural, moral, and political repudiation is the order of the day. Yet, as Daniel J. Mahoney shows in this learned, eloquent, and provocative set of essays, two contemporary philosophic thinkers, Roger Scruton and Pierre Manent, have––separately and together––traced a path for the renewal of politics and practical reason, our civilized inheritance, the natural moral law, and the soul as the enduring site of self-conscious reflection, moral and civic agency, and mutual accountability.

Both Scruton and Manent have repudiated the fashionable nihilism associated with the “thought of 1968” and the “Parisian nonsense machine,” and have shown that gratitude is the proper response of the human person to the “givenness of things.” Both defend the self-governing nation against reckless nationalism and the even more reckless temptation of supranational governance and post-political  democracy, what Manent suggestively calls a “kratos” without a “demos.” Both defend the secular state while taking aim at a radical secularism that rejects “the Christian mark” that is at the heart of our inheritance and that sustains the rich and necessary interpenetration of truth and liberty. Scruton’s more “cultural” perspective is indebted to Burke and Kant; Manent’s more political perspective draws on Aristotle, St. Thomas, Tocqueville, and Raymond Aron, among others. By highlighting their affinities, and reflecting on their instructive differences, Mahoney shows how, together, the English man of letters Scruton, and the French political philosopher Manent, guide us to the recovery of a horizon of thought and action animated by practical reason and the wellsprings of the human soul. They show us the humanizing path forward, but first we must make the necessary spiritual decision to repudiate repudiation once and for all.