Later, as a middle-aged law professor, he became more Burkean. The search for a big philosophic explanation for everything is a fool’s errand, but we can gradually add to the practical wisdom of our species, and work out better ways to do things.Sometimes I feel something like this. And sometimes I think it is just a projection of my desires into a vast, unfeeling cosmos. And sometimes I think it is foolish to think that anyone could know.
But the antiphilosophical position is too cold. Kronman wanted a worldview that would explain the sense of loving gratitude that is the proper response to living: “A life without the yearning to reach the everlasting and divine is no longer recognizably human.”
He is now a “born-again pagan.” He’s learned from the Greeks and the atheists, but he thinks such thinkers render people too prideful and solitary. He’s also learned from the Christians, but he thinks their emphasis on the next world disparages this world. He doesn’t like the way religion asks the intellect to bow down before faith.
To be a born-again pagan is to believe that God is not something outside the world; God is the world, down to its smallest detail. Kronman’s mother’s last significant words were, “The world comes back.” He reflects, “perhaps what she meant is this — that the world, from which we are separated at birth, returns to reclaim us at death, that it leaves no stragglers behind.”
His guiding philosophers now are Spinoza, Nietzsche and Walt Whitman, men who saw God “as the eternal intelligibility of the world itself, now expanded to include the whole of reality.”
Friday, October 14, 2016
Anthony Kronman's New Paganism
David Brooks summarizes a huge new book from Anthony Kronman, former dean of the Yale Law School. In his youth, Kronman went through stages of following Marx and then Max Weber.