Amy Kass was a great student and teacher of Alexis de Tocqueville, and would have appreciated the latest "Conversation" to be released by the Foundation for Constitutional Government, Harvey Mansfield on Tocqueville.
In this conversation, Mansfield discusses key themes in Tocqueville's work, including the nature of democracy, why individualism is a danger to democracy, how associations counteract individualism, and how religion and liberty reinforce one another in our times. Mansfield also describes Tocqueville's own life and political career, and how his thought differs from that of other modern thinkers such as J.S. Mill, Edmund Burke, John Locke, and Thomas Hobbes.
Two friends of mine, Walter Berns and Harry Jaffa, died on January 10. They had not been on friendly terms for many years, but death took them together. They were joined also by being leaders, with Herbert Storing, Martin Diamond, and Ralph Lerner, of a group of a dozen or so students of Leo Strauss (who died in 1973), the philosopher who revived philosophy and especially political philosophy from decline and irrelevance.
Feminism is in control of America’s colleges and universities, where its principles at least are held as dogmas unquestioned and unopposed. Yet in what should be a paradise with those principles at work, women speak of a “rape culture” that sounds like the patriarchal hell we thought we’d left behind.
Last week, a headline in the Harvard Crimson confirmed that Harvard is continuing its depressing slide from an elite educational institution to a really expensive way to boost the self-esteem of America’s overachieving youth: “Substantiating Fears of Grade Inflation, Dean Says Median Grade at Harvard College Is A-, Most Common Grade Is A.” The plain facts here are bad enough, but should you want further confirmation that today’s Harvard students aren’t nearly as smart as they think they are, The Scrapbook would refer you to the embarrassing editorial the student newspape
On board the ms Noordam sailing from Italy to Greece, with a break from both sightseeing and panels, it seemed advisable to me 1) to ignore the goings-on in Washington, and 2) to find time for an article I'd set aside to read, Harvey Mansfield's "Machiavelli's enterprise" in the October New Criterion. Mansfield uses the occasion of the 500th anniversary of The Prince to provide an explanation of the famous first paragraph of its fifteenth chapter. In doing so, Mansfield provides an extraordinarily compressed but accessible account of Machiavelli's significance as the founder of modern philosophy and of the modern world. It's my pick for best article of the year.
As his 80th birthday approaches, TWS contributor and friend (and my teacher) Harvey Mansfield is profiled in the Harvard Crimson. It's a perceptive and fair article, and provides further evidence for the hopeful view that today's students are surprisingly open-minded and intelligent despite—or because of—the fog of political correctness and intellectual vapidity that has descended on the faculties and administrations of our great universities.