Wednesday, September 28, 2011

p. 36 & 39 The Conservative Foundation of the Liberal Order, Mahoney

What is the danger of the separation of church and state in thought?


"As Manent writes...'If the separation of church and state is precious as a rule of our actions, it become ruinous if we make it the rule of our thought.' To make it the rule of our thought is to deny the directedness of the human mind toward truth, toward 'the sovereignty of the object.' It is to permanently sever liberty from a searching engagement with the ends or purposes of human freedom. Lilla's 'art of intellectual separation,' in a desperate effort to maintain civil peace, risks giving rise to a new dogmatism that denies the natural movement of the human soul toward truth. It also assumes that the theological-political problem is frozen in time and ignores the new threats to human freedom that have arisen out of the modern 'solution' to this problem. Those threats include the specters of soft and hard despotism, as well as indifference to truth. These can be summed up in the striking phrase of the Hungarian political philosopher Aurel Kolnai: the 'self-enslavement of man,' which is a byproduct of the most radical and consistent interpretations of human self-sovereignty."

Connect with p. 39:

The law cannot be fully "neutral" about the good life--about the ends and purposes of human life--without eventually subverting the idea of human nobility and the moral foundations of liberty itself.

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