For a Kinder, Gentler Society
First Principles
A Return to Humanity's Shared Traditions
  • Don Foy
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First Principles. A Return to Humanity's Shared Traditions
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FIRST PRINCIPLES examines the flaws and broken promises of modernism, and hopes for renewal in traditionalism. In the United States, we tend to see our biggest divide as being between the Left — the Democrats and their various allies — and the Right — the Republicans and their various allies. We generally assign people with “modern” values to the Left, and people with more “traditional” values to the Right. The truth is not so simple.


About the Author

Donald Foy is a teacher at an alternative school in Wisconsin. Seeing the sad effects modernism has had on today's family, he has seized upon the principles set out by C. S. Lewis as an antidote to relativism in a diverse world.

About the Book

The central spiritual conflict of our time is the struggle between modernism and traditionalism, and the debate over which should be our guide. Many modern conflicts appear intractable because they are hotspots in a larger cold war between...

The central spiritual conflict of our time is the struggle between modernism and traditionalism, and the debate over which should be our guide. Many modern conflicts appear intractable because they are hotspots in a larger cold war between entirely different frames of reference. Only by unearthing and examining the divergent frames can we begin to se e which will work better for us.

"Thy will be done" versus "My will be done": according to First Principles, modernism and traditionalism differ principally in where they locate the source of values. Modernism believes in an internal, subjective source; it appeals to the ego, and its promises have captured the popular imagination; but its actual practice reveals its destructiveness. Traditionalism believes in an external, objective source: God (or gods). Traditionalism is not about traditions, per se - preserving old ways or keeping old rituals - but about dedicating ourselves to God's plan.

Many people sense that something is deeply wrong; First Principles is a tool that can help them clarify the problem. Part One defines and contrasts Modernism and Traditionalism; Part Two explores the contradictions that make modernism destructive; and Part Three examines and advocates the set of values that C. S. Lewis identifies as common to all humanity - a set of values offered as an antidote to relativism in a diverse world.


Introduction

Of all the conflicts that embroil the world today, the one that holds the darkest threat of destruction, but also the brightest promise for creation, is the conflict between modern and traditional values. Sometimes the conflict is obvious, as in the debate over abortion; sometimes it is hidden,...

Of all the conflicts that embroil the world today, the one that holds the darkest threat of destruction, but also the brightest promise for creation, is the conflict between modern and traditional values. Sometimes the conflict is obvious, as in the debate over abortion; sometimes it is hidden, complicating disputes which appear to be ethnic, regional, or national.

America, in particular, shows confusion between its traditionalist and its innovative values. In the United States, we tend to see our biggest divide as being between the Left — the Democrats and their various allies — and the Right — the Republicans and their various allies. We generally assign people with “modern” values to the Left, and people with more “traditional” values to the Right. The truth is not so simple. For instance, the televised sex, violence and crudeness that traditionalists often decry is broadcast because of marketing decisions made in corporate board rooms, a very Right-Republican environment. This runs against the view that the Left is always the agent of social novelty, and the Right is always ally of traditional morality. Remember too, that the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, and the Progressive movement of the early 1900s, both generally seen as impulses from the Left, and resisted by the Right, got much of their start and core support from those traditional institutions — churches.

These, and other similar paradoxes, are resolved when we discard the idea that the Left is “modern,” and the Right is “traditional.” They are both modern. Neither is traditional. They are both anti-tradition.

If they are both modern, what do we mean by “modern”? What could the Left and the Right have in common, they seem so antagonistic toward each other? Finally, what do we mean by “traditional”?

The Left and the Right are both modern in that they both believe that personal happiness and the common good are best achieved when each person makes his or her own life choices without any coercion or pressure from government, or “society,” or any other over-arching institution. The individual is “free,” or “disconnected,” depending on your bias. Modernism has a laissez-faire, or libertarian, spirit. It aims to maximize the decision-making power of the individual, and to minimize the claims of the collective: “society.”

We call this perspective “modern,” because it is in opposition to “traditional,” but as an idea it’s not new. It has been around at least since Rousseau, Blake, and Whitman. Nevertheless, modernism has only gained widespread institutional acceptance in the last 40 years or so — many organizations use its rhetoric — and real mass participation in the last 25. Before that it was the province of writers, artists, philosophers, and so on — the avant-garde. It is an attractive theory, rational, generous, and hopeful, but it had never been tested on a society-wide scale until now.

Modernism has many sources, but one of the most important is the philosophy of the eighteenth-century French thinker, Jean Jacques Rousseau….


Table of Contents
I Where is the Conflict? II Rousseau, Two Lewises, and Mount Olympus III Inversions, Gangs, and Gullive

I Where is the Conflict?

II Rousseau, Two Lewises, and Mount Olympus

III Inversions, Gangs, and Gulliver

IV “Hobbs was Right”

V Pinker’s Unlovely List

VI The Selling of Personal Growth Divorce

VII Why Marriage Doesn’t Translate

VIII The Invisible Hand as Pickpocket

IX The New Aristocrats

X Puzzled by Postmodernism

XI What are the First Principles?

XII The First-Principled Society

AFTERWORD

APPENDIX

APPENDIX

BIBLIOGRAPHY


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Categories

Pages 172
Year: 2003
LC Classification: BJ1031.F66
Dewey code: 148—dc22
BISAC: PHI005000
BISAC: PHI009000
Soft Cover
ISBN: 978-0-87586-258-3
Price: USD 22.95
Hard Cover
ISBN: 978-0-87586-259-0
Price: USD 27.95
Ebook
ISBN: 978-0-87586-202-6
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