The human soul is marvelously complex. Anyone who thinks he can definitively disentangle another author’s motivations—let alone his own—is fooling himself. He is engaging less in scholarly inquiry than self-projection. Only by listening attentively to others can we instruct our minds and enlarge our souls.
Author: Randall Smith (Randall Smith)
Whose Nation? Which Nationalism?
Americans are in the midst of an important debate about the virtues and dangers of nationalism. Unfortunately, interlocutors are not always clear about what they are arguing for or against when they use the term. Some key distinctions from the work of Jacques Maritain can help clarify matters.
The Parallels Between Karamazov and Kavanaugh
Justice is something we must establish every day—in the way we live with others, in the way we speak humbly and attend to all the facts patiently, in deference to reality and the truth of things.
Conforming to Good or Evil: More Moral Lessons in the Shadow of the Holocaust
Clear moral norms are crucial. But to be effective, those norms need to be embodied in moral communities and social practices, habituated in the virtues, and animated by a conviction that they are an essential part of human flourishing. We must create social structures and communities in which intellectual training and moral formation in the virtues can happen.
Moral Education in the Shadow of the Holocaust
Why do some ordinary men and women commit horrible atrocities, while others resist, even if it costs their lives? Studies of the Holocaust offer a potent critique of our customary approaches to moral education.
The New McCarthyism: Religion, Marriage, and Judicial Nominations
Should we determine whether a person is fit to be a judge based on his or her religious beliefs or opinions on contemporary policy debates? Or should the Senate approve judges based on their reputation for fairness, their ability to follow and apply law, and their record of judicial wisdom?
Why Senior Faculty Should Teach First-Year Students
Why aren’t we insisting that students be introduced to the discipline by those who know it best? Pawning these courses off on overworked junior faculty who are so busy grading they have no time to eat lunch, let alone publish or—worse yet—on adjunct faculty who are paid slave wages and have no benefits is unconscionable.
Ideology and the Corruption of Language
Everyone talks about “dialogue,” but very few of us have the patience or are willing to do the hard work to engage in it.
Patriotism isn’t merely something you show in a parade; it means having to deal with people with whom you disagree, but whose lives are bound to yours as yours is to theirs, in a long, difficult, patient, and sometimes painful search for the common good.
Neutered by Neutrality: The Abiding Influence of John Rawls, Part Two
There will be no true justice—and no real political discourse—until the Rawlsian illusion of neutrality is rejected and the Rawlsian tyranny strangling political discourse is overthrown. The second of two parts.
Defeated by Default: The Abiding Influence of John Rawls, Part One
John Rawls’s philosophy of jurisprudence permeates America’s top universities and law schools. The acceptance of his principles foreordained the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage and will do the same in future cases involving euthanasia, transgender rights, and polygamy. Part one of two.
The Meaninglessness of Our Political Discourse: A Lesson from George Orwell
If a slogan can mean anything to anyone, who could oppose it?
Uncivil Discourse, Part Two: A Call for Intellectual Humility
To rehabilitate our public discourse, we each need to cultivate more self-awareness about the potential weaknesses and limitations of our own proposals.
Uncivil Discourse: Modern Media’s Ideological Junkspace
Political discussions in the public realm have become increasingly shallow: something more akin to a children’s mud fight than the rational discourse America’s founders hoped would characterize the civic life of the American republic.
The Social Injustice Done to Adjunct Faculty: A Call to Arms
The time has come. If senior faculty members don’t force the issue of justice for adjuncts, no one else will.
The Perils of Political Propaganda: Mass Hysteria over Indiana
It’s fine for people to express disagreement with the Indiana RFRA—if they know what’s in it. We must not allow ourselves to be manipulated by political propagandists into mob hysteria.
Bureaucratic Bloat in Higher Education: Getting Rid of the Middle Men
When college administrators fancy themselves businessmen selling “information delivery systems,” students suffer.
A Tale of Two Trials: Karamazov and Zimmerman
Trials are not the place for working out our social grievances and anxieties.
Dostoyevsky the Prophet: The Trial of Dmitri Karamazov and the Redefinition of Family
Dostoyevsky prophetically depicts the notion of family as determined not by nature but by consent—an idea that has come to dominate our modern society.
Employment and Social Justice
When we debate problems of social justice, we must keep our shared principles separate from the means we advocate to recognize them. Failure to do so produces unfruitful discourse and misdirected charges.