Kafkaesque Innocence

All of these children were between seven and twelve years old (except for Edward J., who despite his Kafkaesque outlook on life is listed as “under seven”).

Thus Alan Jacobs in a truly fascinating article on children’s Bibles. The children in question are participants in a sort of Platonic Dialogue on the Gospels with a 19th century transcendentalist. The Kafkaesque Edward J. says: “Death is necessary for any judgment.”

Some notable appreciations and critiques of Laudato Si’

Over at The Josias I defend the section of Laudato Si’ on world government, in the introduction a section of Henri Grenier neo-scholastic proof of the necessity of such an institution. At the same time, however, I wriggle out of the conclusion that the UN’s authority ought to be expanded by claiming that such a world government could only be just if it recognized the social kingship of Christ. Continue reading

The Oppenheimer Principle

I think Alan Jacobs goes to far in his rejection of the sort of account of the decline of the West that put a lot of emphasis on the role of philosophy. But I afraid I have to agree his “Oppenheimer Principle” describes a real thing. From his latest piece:

What I call the Oppenheimer Principle — “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success” — has worked far more powerfully to shape our world than any of our master thinkers.

In Defense of a Certain Kind of Story About the Origins of Modernity

Alan Jacobs recently posted an outline of an argument against a certain sort of story about the origins of modernity told by many Thomists—the sort of account given by Gilson in Reason and Revelation in the Middle Ages and by Maritain in Three Reformers; the Ockham→ Luther→ Calvin→ Bacon→ Descartes→ modernity tale of decline. Jacob’s makes six complaints about this sort of account. No two versions of the account are the same, and so Jacobs focuses on the versions of it presented by Brad Gregory in The Unintended Reformation  and Thomas Pfau in Minding the Modern. I haven’t read Pfau, but I have read Gregory, and while I would quibble with some of his points, I agree with the basic outline of his argument. So I disagree with Jacobs, and in what follows I give a brief response to all six of his complaints. Continue reading