Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Comment on Collin

Collin's recent pieces touch upon a problem of modern political philosophy which undergirds liberalism. Collin writes, "[m]odern philosophers have consistently sought to create a pure egalitarian nature in order to undermine conventional differences. The problem is that nature itself appears to both condone and encourage conventional distinctions since humans seem naturally to form exclusionary communities. In other words, nature is far more ambiguous than moderns make allowance for."

High-toned writing for a blog -- even Innocents Abroad. It was probably only a matter of time before we got into ancients and moderns.

First of all, I'm not sure that Collin means that nature supports convention. What he really means is what he says after that which is that nature is a bit more complicated than how the moderns see it (or how they say they see it). In other words, there are natural supports for political life, but political life itself may not be the ultimate fulfillment of human nature, according to the classics.

Second, Collin indicates that the moderns have a political project which may compromise philosophy. Their emphasis on equality is in the service of their political goals. But one must consider whether the moderns too don't seek to protect philosophy by different means and whether their endangerment of philosophy comes from their unorthodox strategy to protect philosophy. Is Collin willing to say that the moderns are simply unphilosophic? One may question the means the moderns chose to achieve their goals, but are their goals different from those of the classics? The moderns may have just been willing to roll the dice in a way that the classics were not.

In any case, Collin's pieces point to fundamental problems with liberalism.


Post a Comment

<< Home