Reflections of a White Supremacist
The title of course is ironic, and is meant to shock and steal the thunder from those who will surely label me as such. The Philosophy department in which I taught for years ran an interdisciplinary required course popularly known as “Western Civ”—Civ obviously short for civilization—not precisely a history course although background chapters on the history of the West were required reading. But the major readings were selections and occasional complete works from the intellectual and cultural monuments from The Bible to the 20th Century. The following list of readings does not represent required reading for one semester, of course, but rather a list from which texts were chosen over the years, with no distinction here between those read in part and those read in their entirety, generally speaking around a dozen or so offerings per semester (14 weeks). No matter the specific texts, the theme of the course was always the same: without these cultural monuments, Western Civilization, for good or ill, would be inconceivable.
Genesis, The Book of Job, Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, The Gospel of Saint Mark, Sophocles’ Oedipus the King, Homer’s The Odyssey, Plato’s The Republic and/or The Apology, Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics and/or Politics, Virgil’s Aeneid, Saint Augustine’s The City of God, Thomas Aquinas’s “Fivefold Argument for the Existence of God,” Dante’s Inferno, selections from Martin Luther and/or John Calvin, a Shakespeare play, René Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy, Isaac Newton’s Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan, John Locke’s Second Treatise of Government, Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of independence, Immanuel Kant’s Idea for a Universal History, Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, Sigmund Freud’s Civilization and its Discontents, an Albert Einstein selection, and occasional poetry whenever appropriate.
There are several things obvious about the course. There are only two 20th century figures. But the course was not really about Western Civilization now; a better title would have been “Foundations of Western Civ.” Another thing obvious: there was but one woman on the list—and she, Jane Austen, was in the curriculum only one semester, as I recall, in the fifteen or so years I was on the Western Civ faculty. I would have preferred George Eliot, whom I think the greatest of the English novelists, but even then there’d have been but a single female. But I cannot say that civilization in the West would look significantly different had Mary Anne Evans never written a word; as it would have had Will Shakespeare been, like his father, a glove. I vaguely recall that at some point someone suggested adding Marie de France—which would have been absurd.
A sister college (brother college?) in the area had a similar course which included “Letter from Birmingham Jail” by Martin Luther King. Which was/is absurd. No matter the undeniable virtues of King, he is no more a foundation stone of Western Civilization than Marie de France was, in spite of his contribution to American culture in the second half of the 20th century when “the West” had already been firmly and famously established; which is a convenient way of noting something else about the Western Civ list. No Blacks.
And why should there be? There are no Albanians, either. The claim made by some pseudo-scholars would be comical were it not vicious, that Plato, for instance, ripped off African thinkers. I recall that one of my innocent students (about half of whom over the years were black) had been told by an academic fraud that The Odyssey was a rip-off. The quite simple fact is that in spite of the Greco-Roman contributors (in effect adopted by Christianity—as for example Aquinas adopted Aristotle “The Philosopher”) another name for Western Civilization could well be “Judeo-Christendom,” (WC/JC) of which the sub-Saharan African people were not a part until well after the European colonizing of Africa. During the foundational period of Western Civilization / Judeo-Christendom there was no poem, no epic, no painting, no music, no metaphysics, piercing WC/JC from black Africa. A non-controversial fact.
I should add that in my years teaching Western Civ only once did a student complain of the absence of a black text, but even he did not feel excluded given the Biblical texts, which he considered a part of his culture along with John Calvin as well. This student noted the absence of a black author because he was thinking of the Now instead of the Foundations. The most consequential complaints came from New Left faculty, who weren’t thinking at all, evidently assuming that if we couldn’t find a black contemporary of Shakespeare we weren’t looking hard enough. In any case, they were strong and numerous enough to see to it that Western Civ did not remain a universal requirement.
A legitimate question: if Western Civ had become a multi-semester course (as it should have been all along) would the “absences” be filled? I’m sure they would. But I’m not at all sure they should. Look, listen: when we evolved the list from Genesis to Einstein we were looking for world-class thinkers and writers; we were not trying to balance the ticket. When I consider American Blacks I think that, possibly, W.E.B. DuBois and Ralph Ellison are world-class. I don’t think James Baldwin makes it. I’m certain that Maya Angelou does not. Nor does Toni Morrison, Nobel so what, belong in the same league as the Job poet, the Bard, or Dante, etc. I love the poets Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Countee Cullen, Clause McKay, and Robert Hayden, but they could not replace Wordsworth, Keats, and Yeats on any list—which is not an insult since I don’t think Charles Baudelaire or Anna Akhmatova could either.
And if we consider strictly African intellectuals . . . I can claim no expertise, nor very much experience. I have never read Wole Soyinka the playwright, but the poet is exceptional. Of course, “everyone’s” choice is Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. I will confess what I never confessed to my black students. I do not remember whether I ever finished it or not, only remembering that the elaboration of yams was breathtakingly boring. I never thought justice was served when Saul Bellow was accused of racism for saying he’d read the African Proust (or was it Tolstoy?) when it appeared. I apologize for this gap in my reading, for the African writers certainly think of themselves as recipients of and contributors to Western Civilization. Achebe even borrowed his title from a Yeats poem. I will try Achebe once more.
But I am tired of this direction of my reflections, or apparent direction. For my point is not and never was intended to be, that Western Civilization, Judeo-Christendom, is not black. For it is not white either, except in the most misleading and superficial sense. Which requires a few autobiographical facts. I am proud of Western culture in the same way that I am proud of Shakespeare in that I am happy to share with him the state of being human. But I am not proud of being white like him—or rather—beige. My beige-ness—okay, my whiteness—is merely what happened to me at birth, is not an achievement, is nothing I ever chose, nothing I ever made. I cannot say it’s an accident, because both my parents were beige also, but I never chose them even while happy they occasioned me. But I have said above that I’m proud of Western culture, truly appreciative of Judeo-Christendom: pride has no necessary philosophic connection to achievement. But let me put it this way: I feel lucky, I feel pride in being the person who is capable of being stunned by the excellence of the Job story, of Aristotle’s reflections on happiness, of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, of Einstein’s discovery of relativity, und so weiter. And while I am capable of understanding the function during the civil rights revolution of the slogan “Black is Beautiful,” I am incapable of thinking “white is beautiful”; indeed, I find it incomprehensible.
Western civilization was not created, its monuments of intellect and culture were not created, by Whites! They were created by ancient Israelites, Greeks, and Romans; and Romans become Italians, Germans and Swiss and French, English, American, Russian and Jew. To say that they are all White, that that’s what’s important, is to say that skin color is more important than mind and soul, and is just about the dumbest utterance one can make. To say that they were Middle-Eastern pre-European, and European, and European-Colonial, sounds slightly more intelligent, but not by a lot; for European is a fact of location, not definitive racial or ethnic information. What they really have in common is that they were Judeo-Christian, whether faithful or in rebellion; and when in rebellion nonetheless were culturally Jewish or Christian, as Judeo-Christendom was vaster and more compelling than any single soul. (Who makes this judgment? I do, a cultural Calvinist.)
Let me put a period to this. I feel more akin—much, much more akin—to Chinua Achebe, whom I have never met and with whom I share no pigmentation, than I do with 90 percent (impossible to be precise) of the beige people I meet, with whom I have not a hell of a lot in common beyond pigmentation. Achebe and I share a desire to associate somehow with William Butler Yeats.
I am about to lavish praise upon Western Civilization as the finest imaginable—itself I mean, not the course. But before doing that I have to avoid confusion by clearing up some terminology. The reader will have noticed that a few paragraphs prior I referred to Western culture instead of Western civilization. The relation of the two words is possibly confusing because confusable. A civilization can mean a broad society; civilization can mean the civilized and civilizing aspects or characteristics of that society. A culture can mean a civilization as a broad society; culture can mean its civilizing aspects. A culture can also refer to a sub-section of a society as in “the corporate culture.” I assume it is clear that by “the civilized and civilizing aspects” I mean the arts and sciences in their broadest sense, the philosophies and theologies, the matter in the spirit of the Western Civ book list, that is. German Zivilisation and Kultur have the same versatility—and I have often employed Kultur to indicate those civilizing cultural aspects since it would never be confused with Gesellschaft (society). In any case, when I lavish praise upon Western Civilization, Western Culture, I am not talking about Western Society and its history, for that congeries includes much that is not praiseworthy, the most noteworthy of which being—for instance—chattel slavery and the Holocaust. What I praise, then, are specifically the artistic and intellectual monuments of the West, of Judeo-Christendom, the essentially European cultural achievement. And, of course, the European, both sins and virtues, means the Americas and Australia and New Zealand as well as geographic Europe itself.
I need to say a few words about the societal sins before settling into my praise of the cultural virtues. Ancient Greek servitude was not chattel slavery; it was in effect what happened to you if you lost a war—which is no justification but a fact nonetheless. Slavery as a social institution was not an exclusively Western matter. It was universal: Asian, Muslim, sub-Saharan African itself. I will not waste anyone’s time, including my own, arguing that there were milder and harsher forms, although there must have been (was it luckier to be a slave in America or in Haiti?). For that’s analogous to saying that some murder victims were killed more gracefully than others. The Holocaust was of course a Western matter, but Genocide like slavery has been universal. In recent historical memory: before the Holocaust there was the Turkish genocide of Armenians, which Turks to this day deny; after the Holocaust, there have been the Arab genocide of blacks in Sudan and in Rwanda Tutsi killing Hulu and then Hulu killing Tutsi. African genocide has seemed like an epidemic. And recent memory is only recent memory.
It would be insane to judge genocides as milder and harsher. But some judgments can be made. If as many Gypsies as possible and one third of the world’s Jews could be slaughtered, the Nazi Holocaust was the worst genocide in history. Worst in two senses. (1) It was the most effective, both politically and technologically. (2) It was the greatest cultural betrayal. Think hard, without sentimentality and ethnic self-service. It simply cannot be said, unless one is willing to lie to oneself, that inter-tribal mass murder has been a surprising violation of cultural expectations and moral norms in Africa. No, it cannot. And although the Turkish mass murder of Christian Armenians occurred during Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s attempt to “de-Islamisize” Turkey culturally speaking, the Turks were Muslim nonetheless—and the idea that Muslims would turn murderously violent against a religious minority did not / does not defy expectations. I am not suggesting that European inter-tribal relations are never violent; but in spite of the Nazi Holocaust and the semi-genocidal Yugoslav ethnic cleansing, racial-ethnic genocide is simply not a Western tradition, as you could suspect that it is close to being so in Muslim and central African lands. And given my own low opinion of human nature, this “cultural Calvinist” suspects that it did not become a tradition largely because of the surprising excellence of the Western culture of Judeo-Christendom, of which there is no native resemblance anywhere else in the world. No place else. So, I suppose it’s time to confess that I am, culturally speaking, a European Supremacist.
I do not have time or space in an essay to argue how and why Genesis and Job, the Epistles and Gospels, Greek art and thought, Dante and Shakespeare and all the rest of the monuments are so rare, fine, and excellent. Indeed, if one does not know it already the conversation is dead. But I did not conceive this essay in the first place to write a sketch in intellectual and cultural history. Indeed, my motivation was and is to try my hand at a kind of hopefully preventive cultural obituary. For it seems to me that Western Culture is losing respect, is losing more respect, every day . . . and unjustly so. I look around me, and am amazed.
My old friend and CUNY colleague Irving Howe, the impatient literary critic, historian (World of Our Fathers), translator of Yiddish, socialist theorist and activist, and polemicist extraordinaire, was an aggressive and frightening figure to some. But in spite of his rough edges he was also the most cultivated man I’ve ever known, this worshipper of George Balanchine. I’d meet him whenever I attended the New York State Ballet—because he was “always” there. When my wife and I moved to the country she used to watch ballet on TV “all the time.” Used to. Well, what should one expect of television? One should expect more of the university.
The fate of Western Civ is not dispositive—but not meaningless either. I mentioned much earlier that New Left faculty saw to it that Western Civ did not remain a universal requirement in my college’s core curriculum. It had been a requirement for all students for traditional reasons, but also for special reasons having to do with the fact that a large minority of students were foreign-born from non-Western nations, and responsible faculty judged they needed some introduction to their new home and indoctrination in the culture new to them. The irresponsible Lefty faculty thought that to be an imposition: imagine that poor Afghan kid being assaulted by the likes of Plato and Shakespeare. The academic Left has no respect for the monuments. I remember my last graduation before retirement, sitting on the dais as faculty marshal, next to one of the guests, Senator Chuck Schumer. I’m glad Schumer left after his congratulatory remarks so he did not hear those of a faculty member who made a little speech congratulating the new BAs and BSs that from now on they’d “not have to worry about the arts and history and political science and such.”
This is not an anecdotal irrelevancy. The university has been traditionally not only a teaching enterprise and research institution . . . but also a home for the monuments and their preservation. Not just preserved as in a library, however, but as the curricular substance of that teaching enterprise. The clear trend in higher education, however, at least in the States, is toward the de-emphasis of the liberal arts and sciences and emphasis on practical “professional” instruction; the History major becomes the rare holdover from the past; the Accounting major fills the classrooms.
The careerist is better trained by the year; the citizen is more poorly educated and less cultivated by the semester—and consequently more superficial. The “dumbing down of America” has been commented on by hundreds, but that should not be the work of the academy; that, nonetheless, is where the principal dumbing down labor battalions are employed. It is painfully ironic that the more people who go to college the fewer educated in the population! We happy few. That phrase used to be not ironic. And as the few get fewer, what happens to the monuments?
One of the more intelligent things Karl Marx said (the only one?) was that capitalism in all its strength carried the seeds of its own destruction. In similar fashion, Western culture carried within its “orthodoxies” the seed of rebellion: for example, the way the Letters of the New Testament held in balance the Jamesian insistence that Faith and Good Works were the dual path to salvation and the Pauline teaching that salvation was through Faith alone—one example only. I am considering the possibility (maybe only the hope) that Western Culture, those artistic and intellectual monuments, even in its dissolution (if that’s the right word) carries the seed for its rebirth also.
What follows is sheer speculation, not an essay in certainty. It is an obituary in a hopeful tone. In a style The Bard would hopefully approve: “by indirection [to] find direction out.” I hope not to try the reader’s patience; I promise not to bore.
I have not been a believer since I was a nominally Baptist child. I believed then because I’d never heard of not believing; there were no village atheists around. Church attendance meant nothing as there is nothing in de-ritualized Baptist liturgy to inspire transcendental thoughts or feelings and I ceased attending by high school. There must have remained some kind of “longing,” however, since I was confirmed in the Episcopal Church when an undergrad at UNC, but I suspect that was in response to those initial-named Brits like T.S. Eliot, W.H. Auden, and C.S. Lewis, as well as to the fact that the Episcopal Church in Chapel Hill featured a kind of theological debating program as the two padres, one Broad Church and the other Anglo-Catholic, took the pulpit on alternate Sundays. My relation to Christianity, that is to say, was strictly intellectual. But I am surprised to say that intellect does not sustain faith, or did not in my case at any rate. Besides, if one is not blessed with a deep faith it is hard to resist the secularism of Hobbes, Jefferson, Darwin, Freud, and other giants like David Hume, Arthur Schopenhauer, and Friedrich Nietzsche all of whom belong on that Western Civ list.
It began to dawn on me over the years while lecturing on philosophy and the history of ideas, that Schopenhauer’s animosity toward organized religion and apparent atheism—forget his private-personal orthodoxies and crotchets—was not really that at all, but was rather instead a deep dissatisfaction wherever he looked which translated as his painful tragic sense of life which had to hold something accountable—and why not what others called “God”?
In much the same fashion, I thought, (I think) was true of Nietzsche. It may be that I think of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche this way because of my own experiences that I documented in an essay that I wrote many years ago; an anger at the way things were in the world, so to speak, coupled with an impotence at a sequence of familial “tragedies,” so to say, led me, in despair, habitually to curse the God I supposedly did not believe in. I assure you this was not like the minor league “God damn” that even atheists rhetorically indulge in.
David Hume’s famous but debatable atheism is a compelling phenomenon, my view of which may seem odd. One of Hume’s most interesting ideas involves his view of “cause.” Event A may be followed consistently by Event B, apparently inevitably so, but that is no proof of a causal connection. You can “see” (perceive) A, you can see B following A, but you cannot see A causing B. Of course you can’t; you can only see one thing following another; and sequence is only sequence, not connection. Nonetheless you cannot escape, short of madness, the belief that one event has caused another. Which implies that some realities cannot be “seen.” Imagine, then, the theological consequences.
After a while it became difficult for me to take seriously the secularism-to-disbelief of figures like Jefferson, Darwin, and Freud. Jefferson? Forget it. There’s something terminally boring about his Deistic rewriting of the Gospels. Darwin? His opinions outside the sphere of natural history are not worth a farthing. Freud? For all my near limitless admiration for him, it is hard for me to take seriously the views on religion of a man who profoundly disliked music. Music, which comes closest of all the arts to being the native language of any conceivable divinity.
The point is that while I never really became a believer I remain impatient with my own lack of faith (unless faith can be conceived of, as Paul Tillich did, as “ultimate concern”). I am even more impatient with professed atheists. I’d try to read whatever Christopher Hitchens wrote, but his atheistic polemics were embarrassing, putting him temporarily in a league with Sam Harris. Most “intellectual” atheists are not responding philosophically to the classical arguments of Platonists and Aristotelians, Augustine and Aquinas, Descartes and Kant, to name just a few. The argument (actually a non-argument) of most atheists amounts to saying “I don’t believe in god; therefore he can’t possibly exist.”
Nor should I claim that my own loss of disbelief, if not quite a regaining of belief, is entirely a philosophical response to the classical arguments (although I have some philosophical favorites among them). I know I have reached the position that I’ve reached because of the power of the monuments to cause something like a “rebirth.” I suspect that some would find the reasons for my altered views reprehensible . . . and perhaps even slavish.
Plato and Aristotle were “pagans” of course, but were theists who nonetheless were drafted as contributors to Judeo-Christianity. As unnecessary as it is I will note that the authors of Genesis like the Job poet were believers. So too Saint Paul and Saint Mark. So too Augustine, Aquinas, Dante, Luther, Calvin, Shakespeare in his fashion, Descartes, Newton, Locke, Kant, Burke, Dostoevsky and, in his own way, Einstein. As I survey them all, as well as many other figures not on the Western Civ list for want of space, I conclude the following: While I have some reservations about the size of Luther’s arrogant mind—he sounds like a savage when he debates Desiderius Erasmus—they all seem terribly smart to me! My God how impressive! And—something the crowd like Harris and the “New Atheists” could never say—Who the Hell, then, am I?
Still finding direction by indirection . . .
Sometimes I think Philip Larkin the wisest poet of the 20th century. What times are those? Whenever I read Philp Larkin, I’m not the only one—I forget who else—who thinks “Aubade” the best poem on death ever. William Hazlitt wrote, “No young man thinks he shall ever die.” I remember, but now . . . I am impatient with stoics who tell me it’s irrational to fear the death which I will not feel. And so is Larkin. That is precisely what we fear: “no sight, no sound, / No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with, / Nothing to love or link with, / The anaesthetic from which none come round.”
“Church Going.” The speaker is clearly the poet himself. Not about church attendance, rather, the speaker has the habit of visiting old unused churches for reasons he does not fully understand, perhaps architectural interest. “Back at the door / I sign the book, devote an Irish sixpence, / Reflect the place was not worth stopping for. / Yet stop I did; in fact I often do.” What happens to these old churches? Will people visit as I do? Something attracts, but “superstition, like belief, must die, / And what remains when disbelief has gone? . . . / A shape less recognizable each week, / A purpose more obscure. I wonder who / Will be the last to seek / This place for what it was?”
The speaker surprises himself to find “It pleases [him] to stand in silence here.”
A serious house on serious earth it is,
In whose blent air all our compulsions meet
Are recognized, and robed as destinies.
And that much never can be obsolete,
Since someone will forever be surprising
A hunger in himself to be more serious,
And gravitating with it to this ground,
Which, he once heard, was proper to grow wise in,
If only that so many dead lie round.
Never did an unbeliever—as Larkin was, unless you think he was lying—write such a religious poem. I will now propose an analogy I think Larkin would appreciate.
“The Church” (I don’t mean the building) may be in decline, as figures seem to suggest, and as behavior certainly does, but “someone will forever be surprising a hunger in himself to be more serious and gravitating with it to this ground.” For the Church is like a Culture . . . which, like a church, we “once heard was a proper place to grow wise in,” given—think of all those monuments from Plato to the rest—“that so many dead lie round.”
That is my profound wish at any rate, that Western Culture, less respected every year and less protected by its natural protectors—most specifically The University—yet survives in some fashion to answer in some fashion a longing for something more than a remunerative career. But if it does, I doubt The University will have much to do with it.
I spent most of my academic career at the youngest constituent senior college of the City University of New York. It began as a special pure liberal arts and sciences institution, no practicalities like Accounting allowed, temporarily quartered on the campus of a community college. When a site for its own campus was chosen the city government insisted the college would become part of an urban development plan, so it was situated proximate to an area of the Borough of Queens which was in effect the “Harlem” of that borough. One consequence was an increasing number of black students. And a manufactured consequence of that was the gradual de-emphasis of the arts and sciences: the obvious but unspoken assumption of city and college administrations being that liberal arts were not in the best interests of “them.” This was a vast insult to a really interesting (and interested) group of students. But those with access to power and purse-strings and who volunteered to know what was best for “them” prevailed. For a long while it was possible to sustain a sense of purpose teaching in what I called “the college within the college,” but when that diminished to the size of a kindergarten within the college I admitted defeat and retired; by then the curriculum was unrecognizable.
While teaching in a senior college within CUNY it was possible to obtain a partial or full-time temporary leave to join the faculty at the Graduate Center—an opportunity I never availed myself of, never tempted to spend time advising on graduate dissertations. But the Grad Center was a nice place to visit in Manhattan for meetings and seminars, especially given the quality of the faculty. I think especially of Irving Howe, whom I got to know quite well over the years, the distinguished critic Alfred Kazin, with whom I had coffee a couple of times (big deal!), and the historian Arthur Schlesinger, who after being on extended leave from Harvard for administration work in Washington chose to join the Grad Center rather than return to Cambridge. That was a big deal. The CUNY Graduate Center was a distinguished place. I don’t think I would say that now.
Howe-Kazin-Schlesinger? That was years ago. Probably the most notable CUNY faculty member now is a musicologist with a dual appointment at the Grad Center and Hunter College, holding a Ph.D. in music theory from Yale. I don’t wish to utter his name. Re-using an old joke of Oscar Levant: I’d rather memorize his name and throw my head away. (If the reader must know, let him or her look for it in the New York Times Art section, February 15, 2021.) Professor X believes music theory is dominated by racist whites. In spite of the fact of Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Haydn, Schubert, Schumann, Wagner, und so weiter, in the history of classical music, Professor X thinks the Yale Music Department’s language requirement of German for the doctorate is racist. Rather “any language” should satisfy the requirement, “including sign language and computer languages, for instance,” except for “Ancient Greek, Latin, Italian, French or German, which [should] only be allowed by petition as a dispensation.” At least the monuments of Western Culture are safe from Professor X’s irresponsible excitements? Well, judge for yourself. A merely “above average” composer named Beethoven “has been propped up by whiteness and maleness for 200 years.”
I assure the reader that the paragraph above is not parody.
I keep thinking about Larkin’s poem. What happens to abandoned churches, or synagogues? I often drive by a church that is no more a church, now a dwelling. I wonder what it’s like inside, how comfortable. I think, “Better that it’s used for someone’s home rather than remain empty.” But after Larkin’s “Church Going” I think it is better that it remain empty to remind what it was. And that is better than that it be destroyed. If it stands it can remind us of what has been lost . . . and perhaps can be recovered, before we descend into ignorance and darkness.
But my analogy of some pages back of church and cultural monuments is incomplete (forgetting for a moment that a church can be a monument, not my point here). While a church can stand to tell/remind us something where, visibly, can a cultural monument stand, to be casually entered by a curious passer-by? One cannot wander into an Aristotelian premises and drop an Irish sixpence upon leaving. Oh. . . it can “stand” in a library, un-read until remaindered when stacks are cleared, as they will be while The University betrays its mission.
I think once more of Larkin’s other great poem, “Aubade.” Although I am not happy about it there is something like solace to know that one will not be around when that happens.
Samuel Hux is Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at York College of the City University of New York. He has published in Dissent, The New Republic, Saturday Review, Moment, Antioch Review, Commonweal, New Oxford Review, Midstream, Commentary, Modern Age, Worldview, The New Criterion and many others.
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THE brilliant DEFINITIVE REPY to all those who would have us forever follow blind meaningless divisions on every issue of culture and public policy into a world of Black vs. White, Rich vs. Poor, Male vs. Female.
G. Murphy Donovan
Say it again, Sam. At our best, most of us are probably agnostics. Albeit, at the same time, we all have faith. We are believers - in somebody or something. Otherwise, we would never put the persuasive quill to paper as you do so well. Faith is a kind of utilitarian hubris. I think Pericles, and later Lincoln, had it right. We all have the potential for immortality too, to the extent that our life's example, words, or deeds live on in the hearts of other men. Va bene