Mon, 13 October 2008
This issue of Audition features commentary by MARS HILL AUDIO host Ken Myers about recent on-line essays by political theorist Patrick Deneen. The four essays discussed were posted on Deneen's blog, What I Saw in America, and they each offered perspective on our current economic crisis gleaned from classical political philosophy. The essays were titled: "Abstraction," "Political Philosophy in the Details," "Whack a Mole," and "Democracy in America." Also referenced in Myers's comments is the 1976 book by sociologist Daniel Bell, The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism. Patrick Deneen, associate professor of government at Georgetown University, was also a guest on Volume 91 of the MARS HILL AUDIO Journal; a portion of that interview may be heard here. In this interview, Deneen and Myers discuss the thought of Wendell Berry, whom Deneen describes as a "Kentucky Aristotelian."
Ken Myers also comments on an article from the May 2008 issue of Harper's by Wendell Berry. Berry's article, "Faustian Economics: Hell Hath No Limits," identifies the destructive (yet perennially attractive) Gnostic tendency to assume that limits are bad and always in need of breaking, a tendency implicated in many forms of cultural disorder.
Finally, Myers previews a new audiobook published by MARS HILL AUDIO, called The Passionate Intellect: Incarnational Humanism and the Future of University Education, by Norman Klassen and Jens Zimmermann.
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Tue, 7 October 2008
On his blog, Patrick Deneen (author of the 2005 book Democratic Faith) identifies himself as a political theorist. "Theory" comes from a Greek verb meaning "to see." The English word "theater," denoting a place where scenes from human life are enacted to be seen (and to promote greater vision about life), comes from the same root. As Deneen himself explained in a 2002 essay on the nature of patriotism, the word "theory" came over time to designate a particular kind of seeing in the Greek world. "Certain designated city officials—theoroi—were charged with the task of visiting other cities, to 'see' events such as religious or theatrical or athletic festivals, and to return to their home city, where they would then give an account of what they had seen. To 'theorize' was to take part in a sacred journey, an encounter with the 'other' in which the theorist would attempt to comprehend, assess, compare, and then, in [the] idiom of his own city, explain what had been seen to his fellow citizens." Theorists in the best tradition are people who enable us to become "other-wise," encouraging us to realize that the way we live life isn't the only way it could be lived, and may not be the best way we could live.
In the past few weeks, Deneen's posts have placed the Wall Street meltdown in a larger cultural perspective that is absent from most media diagnoses and from the comments of politicians, whose handlers and PR experts forbid them from ever saying anything critical of the dominant trends of our cultural moment. . . .
Read more from Ken Myers about Patrick Deneen's analysis on the MARS HILL AUDIO website. Subscribers to the MARS HILL AUDIO Journal will have heard our interview with Patrick Deneen on volume 91. If you missed that interview, you may hear a portion of it here.
Category:Further reading -- posted at: 5:31pm EDT