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A Second Look at First Things: A Case for Conservative Politics: The Hadley Arkes Festschrift Paperback – July 15, 2013

ISBN-13: 978-1587317590 ISBN-10: 1587317591 Edition: 1st

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A Second Look at First Things: A Case for Conservative Politics: The Hadley Arkes Festschrift + Jerusalem, Athens, and Rome: Essays in Honor of James V. Schall, S.J. + The Loss and Recovery of Truth: Selected Writings of Gerhart Niemeyer
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: St. Augustines Press; 1 edition (July 15, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1587317591
  • ISBN-13: 978-1587317590
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,347,003 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Book Description

The conservative movement in America seems to have fallen on hard times. Even though conservative talk radio is at its height, and President Obama had to shift to the political center to win the 2008 election (only to disappoint months after his inauguration), conservative ideas garner little excitement or serious engagement among young people as they once did even just two decades ago. We have gone from Eric Voegelin “Don’t immanentize the eschaton” to Hannity’s “Sean, you’re a great American.” To be sure, many conservative and liberal young people have firm opinions on issues along the conservative-liberal fault line. They can opine, and fiercely so, by blog, twitter, or email on issues as wide ranging as same-sex marriage, Constitutional interpretation, abortion, free markets, and the role of religion in the public square. But very few, if any, of them seem to be aware of the intellectual patrimony from which their views sprang, and the arguments and reasons that animated the proponents of the ideas they claim to sincerely and deeply hold. “Hope” and “change,” though fine words in their own right, do not qualify as actual ideas that may guide presidents and prime ministers to excellence in statecraft.
There was a time when many students in college or graduate school would participate in robust discussions with friend and foe alike about the ideas and arguments plumbed from the works authored by conservative luminaries as diverse as Hayek, Strauss, Voegelin, Buckley, Weaver, Friedman, Kirk, Lewis, Chesterton, and Anscombe, to name just a few. Sadly, there is very little of this going on today in our universities and colleges.
     A Second Look at First Things: A Case for Conservative Politics has two purposes. The first is to remedy this contemporary deficit by offering, in one volume, an intelligent, winsome, and readable articulation of conservative ideas on a variety of issues and questions. They range from the abstract (“Why the Natural Law Suggests a Divine Source”) to the practical (“Lincoln and the Art of Political Leadership”), and to the provocative (“Being Personal These Days: Designer Babies and the Future of Liberal Democracy”).
     The second purpose is to honor the great conservative political philosopher, Hadley P. Arkes, the Edward Ney Professor of Jurisprudence and American Institutions at Amherst College. In 2010 he celebrated his 70th birthday, and 2011 marked the 25th anniversary of his classic monograph on natural law and public policy, First Things: An -Inquiry Into the First Principles of Morals and Justice (Princeton University Press, 1986). So, in celebration of these milestones, the editors have chosen to produce a work that is consistent with Hadley’s vocation as an exceptional teacher of young people. Although most of those who have read Hadley’s books and articles think of him as an engaging and productive scholar, which indeed he is, his students – including both those at Amherst as well as those who have had the privilege to hear his spell-binding lectures elsewhere – know him as an outstanding teacher. His ability to unpack a principle of jurisprudence by weaving together an analytical argument with an enthralling tale or insightful anecdote is truly magical to behold.
     Contributors include Michael Novak, Daniel Robinson, Gerard Bradley, Allen Guelzo, Peter Augustine Lawler, Larry Arnn, James Schall, s.j., and Christopher Tollefesen.

About the Author

Francis J. Beckwith is Professor of Philosophy and Church-State Studies, Baylor University. He is the author of several books including Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case against Abortion Choice (Cambridge University Press, 2007)

Robert P. George is the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University, where he is also Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions. Among his many books is In Defense of Natural Law (Oxford University Press)

Susan McWilliams is Associate Professor of Politics, Pomona College. She is co-editor (with Patrick Deneen) of The Democratic Soul: A Wilson Carey McWilliams Reader (University Press of Kentucky)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By B. Wolinsky on May 25, 2014
Format: Paperback
The author cites a dialogue between Solon and Croesus told in Herodotus’ Histories. It is moral fulfillment, not material or financial, that brings lasting happiness. Today there’s a lack of moral education and it leaves the kids lacking. This book puts storytelling at the forefront of education, which in my experience, makes perfect sense. Take for example a child who learns about US presidents. I knew all about Abraham Lincoln by the time I was seven years old, and I learned it from children’s books that were read to me. By age nine I could name the presidents who were assassinated, and by age 14 I knew that Nixon got in trouble and had to resign. It all came from books that were written for kids.

Next comes the issue of Obama, who was offered an honorary doctorate from the University of Notre Dame, though nobody’s sure why. Obama is pro-choice, while Notre Dame is a famously Catholic school, and this president is more apt to go on Jay Leno than be at Notre Dame. The author then cites the Bork and Scalia arguments of “natural law,” often derided by more liberal pundits. He claims that there are not enough conservative scholars to win debates with the liberals, although that will probably change. Dr. Ben Carson is guaranteed to draw crowds at speaking engagements, and his disagreement with Obamacare brought the Republicans pounding on his door.

I’d like to cap off my review of this wonderful book on Conservative merits by quoting Thomas Sowell. The great economist once said, if anybody tells you their college faculty is diverse, there’s a great way to prove it. Let them tell you how many Republicans there are in the Sociology department!
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