- Series: American Ideals & Institutions (Book 1)
- Hardcover: 256 pages
- Publisher: Intercollegiate Studies Institute; First Edition edition (June 3, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1610170709
- ISBN-13: 978-1610170703
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 45 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #119,273 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Conscience and Its Enemies: Confronting the Dogmas of Liberal Secularism (American Ideals & Institutions) Hardcover – June 3, 2013
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New York Times Book Review
A fascinating mind at work: brilliant, of course, and learned, but, above all, tenacious. Robert George is the bulldog of American intellectualsgrasping hold of a topic and refusing to let it go until he’s gotten to the bone.” Weekly Standard
This country’s most influential conservative Christian thinker.” New York Times Magazine
One of the nation’s most respected legal theorists . . . Even people who profoundly disagree with some of his conclusions [respect] his sheer brilliance, the analytic power of his arguments, the range of his knowledge . . . [and] a deeply principled conviction, a profound and enduring integrity.” Elena Kagan, Supreme Court justice
One of the most incisive legal and moral thinkers working today.” First Things
One of contemporary conservatism’s intellectual pinups.” George F. Will
George has done a great service in demonstrating that traditional morality still has an authoritative role to play in modern life, and in showing how a person of faith can enter the public square fearlessly, unashamedly, intelligently, and, above all, reasonably.” National Review
An indispensable man.” Touchstone
Professor George has helped strengthen our nation’s system of ordered liberty by exploring enduring questions of American constitutional law and Western political theory.” President George W. Bush, in awarding the Presidential Citizens Medal
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The book is organized in four sections, the first three address: fundamentals of what makes a decent society (short answer: respect for the human person, the family, and a fair and effective government); secondly, morality, mainly about government incursion into religious spheres, such as same sex marriage; and lastly, life (abortion, stem cells, euthanasia).
The last section consists of short biographical comments on the life and works of people who play or have played a major role in current events. Some of these are darkly amusing. For example, Harry Blackmun (mainly responsible for Roe v Wade) treated abortion solely as a medical treatment. Why? For one, a major part of his career had been as legal counsel for the Mayo Clinic!
I "only" gave it four stars because of the depth of some of the treatment may make it a hard read, though this was probably unavoidable given the level of detail required to address some topics (e.g., the question of where life begins). George does an excellent job where such detail is not required, as in his civil evisceration of Mario Cuomo's argument that citizens that are religious must not oppose abortion because their position has a religious basis.
I didn't realize when I ordered it that some of the material had been previously published. There is, however, new material and much of the previously published material has been revised. After reading it through, I am glad the older material was incorporated because it's nice to have the relevant essays all in one place, some I had not read before and the ones I had, I remember not wanting to lose track of.( I had printed some of them out and, of course, subsequently misplaced them.)
It is not long-260 pages, and while I wished he would've expounded on some points a bit more especially when discussing natural law and the principles of practical reasoning [ I had read Finnis' Moral Absolutes and another book RPG edited of Grisez's work, so I had already been introduced to it, but I could've used a review. ], I think an introductory book like this is perfect to establish the validity of his premise in order to show people that many of the things they have always believed (or suspected, or hoped) instinctively are in fact fully supported by reason. This understanding is likely to be greatly heartening in light of the contrary messages in today's politics and culture, and will no doubt inspire many to read further in their pursuit of Truth.
Full disclosure: I loved RPG's book Making Men Moral and actually everything of his I have ever read, so I am not a "neutral" reviewer. I am a huge fan. =)