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Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Conservative Reading List Part 2

This is part 2 of the Conservative Reading List Part 1 may be found here. 

I recommend Saint Thomas Aquinas because no thinker has impacted me so deeply in such a limited amount of time.Aquinas spent his life working to produce a synthesis of Classical thought built on Aristotle and Christianity; this synthesis may be viewed as the apogee of Medieval, Christian, and Classical thinking. Aquinas was not just a theologian, but one of the most eminent philosophers in history. This collection has provided me with a broad sweep of Thomistic thought. Thought that is still relevant today. The Catholic Church derives the majority of political and ethical positions from the original efforts of Aquinas to guide us toward, God through the use of both reason and revelation. If you have any desire to understand the modern ethical arguments (perhaps the most influential and well articulated in all human history) made by the Church or just understand the reconciliation of reason and faith I cannot recommend Aquinas enough. 

The City of God is a monolith. One need not read it all at once or even in its entirety, however one would be well served by doing so. The City of God against the Pagans was St' Augustine of Hippo's efforts to articulate the theological positions of the early church on innumerable issues, reconcile Platonic philosophy to Christianity, provide a political response to the accusations that Christianity cause the sack of Rome in 410, and establish a framework through which providential history may be understood. Augustine divides the City of Man and the City of God and paints a landscape in which theodicy and the will may be reconciled to the existence of an omnipotent God. The book remains most interesting to me because Augustine not only does it address atheistic arguments that are still made today, but it also provides a framework for understanding humanities limited capacity to exercise its will upon creation. 

The Quest for Cosmic Justice is a book by Thomas Sowell where he attempts to produce a new definition of Justice: Cosmic Justice. Cosmic Justice to Sowell is the attempt to alter, or ameliorate the natural or cosmic order. Cosmic Justice seeks to subordinate God given order of the universe and the work of creation. Sowell does an excellent job highlighting both the futility and harm of such efforts to reconcile the natural to the normative. He does this both through logic and anecdote. This book is important because not only does it supplement his book The Conflict of Visions but the book also contains a great deal of creative and original thinking articulated in a new way. Sowell did a great deal to advance the conservative conception of justice as a process and disputes over its nature as  a vision. 

I cannot recommend Irving Kirstol enough; to me he is timeless. Kristol covers a broad canvas, but much of this particular book is composed of articles related to capitalism, great society reforms, faith, and the family. The collection is composed of articles from the wonderful magazines (all founded by Kristol) Encounter, Public Interest, and the National Interest. I recommend this particular book because it covers Kristol's foundation thoughts, which in essence provide the founding document of Neo-Conservative political thought. We have a preconceived notion of what Neo-Conservatism is in a descriptive sense, and Kristol does a great deal to show that this understanding of Neo-Conservatism is misguide or incorrectly attributed.  

Lastly, I would like to recommend another Peter Hitchens book. The Abolition of Britain is likely Hitchen's most sweeping book, part historical commentary, part lament for a nation. Hitchen's traces the decline of traditional Britain and its replacement of it with a rapidly degenerating modern Sodom with no spiritual core. You can feel the pain as Hitchen's writes in this work, and his cogent arguments go a long way in buttressing the opinions of those who have a traditional intuition, but have yet to find an empirical argument for the sentiments which they espouse. In the end the book leaves the reader greatly saddened, because it admits that we may be past the brink; the book is not only a portrait of a dead Britain, but at the same time an accurate parallel for societal changes across the Western World.