Book List

This list, focused on books somewhat frequently or recently discussed at this site, or highly relevant to the site’s content in other ways, is a work in progress. Feel free to recommend additions! You can also browse the “aStore” directly here: CK MacLeod’s: Influential and Recommended…

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  1. I’ve long been interested in your suggestions for further reading, so I’m glad you’ve added this book list to the website. A few of them I’ve already read, a few others I’ve long intended to read, and I’ll give careful consideration to reading the rest in time to come.

    I’m naturally intrigued by the classics or “great books” which you include. I’m especially curious as to your inclusion of Hume’s Treatise. I don’t have any particular take on it–just curious.

    A couple of technical considerations–and forgive me if I’m telling you anything you already know:

    1) Are you aware that the version of Hegel’s Philosophy of History which you’ve included would appear to be the introduction only? I can’t help but think that you would like prospective readers to read the entire survey of world-history which Hegel renders in that work. (Btw, I recently had occasion myself to read the Sibree translation of the Philosophy of History–I enjoyed it very much and plan on re-reading it soon.)

    2) If you scroll down to the comments beneath your selection of the Philosophy of Right, there’s a comment by a fellow named Alan White. He lauds the Cambridge translation but points out that the editors do not take Hegel’s dialectical logic seriously. He asks prospective readers to consider giving his own translation of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right a look. I only mention this because, to fail to situate the Philosophy of Right within Hegel’s “logic” does strike me as a defective interpretation.

    In closing, I found the following extract from a reader comment below the Kahn book on liberalism to be interesting; and I realize that it is, in some sense anyway, consonant with your own perspective–as well as mine:

    What becomes evident is that a purely rational life is simply not possible. This is partly due to the fact that reason cannot demand the ultimate sacrifice from people. Family, religion and the state can all demand sacrifice and do so on continuous basis, but reason stops just short of this demand of ultimate sacrifice.

    • Setting the Kahn citations aside for the moment, then in reverse order, I recall that comment from my own buying decision on Philosophy of Right, and, after reviewing its basis, felt I could correct adequately. I have since found that text immensely useful, first of course for its main content, but also for the notes pointing to and sampling other works. If I had the time, meaning a secure living or anything resembling same, I’d go to the original, and same for the rest of H’s lectures, the Philosophy at Jena, and the Encyclopedia – which last I do have on my Kindle and should make a point at least of glancing at from time to time. Alas, time is short, and one can’t read everything.

      Hume – many reasons – not least for the sake of his famous fickle finger, in accord with Kahn:

      Where a passion is neither founded on false suppositions, nor chuses means insufficient for the end, the understanding can neither justify nor condemn it. ‘Tis not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger. ‘Tis not contrary to reason for me to chuse my total ruin, to prevent the least uneasiness of an Indian or person wholly unknown to me. ‘Tis as little contrary to reason to prefer even my own acknowledge’d lesser good to my greater, and have a more ardent affection for the former than the latter. A trivial good may, from certain circumstances, produce a desire superior to what arises from the greatest and most valuable enjoyment; nor is there any thing more extraordinary in this, than in mechanics to see one pound weight raise up a hundred by the advantage of its situation. In short, a passion must be accompany’d with some false judgment, in order to its being unreasonable; and even then ’tis not the passion, properly speaking, which is unreasonable, but the judgment.

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The most painful aspect of this has been to watch people I previously considered thoughtful and principled conservatives give themselves over to a species of illiberal politics from which I once thought they were immune.

In his 1953 masterpiece, “The Captive Mind,” the Polish poet and dissident Czeslaw Milosz analyzed the psychological and intellectual pathways through which some of his former colleagues in Poland’s post-war Communist regime allowed themselves to be converted into ardent Stalinists. In none of the cases that Milosz analyzed was coercion the main reason for the conversion.
They wanted to believe. They were willing to adapt. They thought they could do more good from the inside. They convinced themselves that their former principles didn’t fit with the march of history, or that to hold fast to one’s beliefs was a sign of priggishness and pig-headedness. They felt that to reject the new order of things was to relegate themselves to irrelevance and oblivion. They mocked their former friends who refused to join the new order as morally vain reactionaries. They convinced themselves that, brutal and capricious as Stalinism might be, it couldn’t possibly be worse than the exploitative capitalism of the West.

I fear we are witnessing a similar process unfold among many conservative intellectuals on the right.

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The precarious feeling of uncertainty will nonetheless persist, at least until U.S. authority, in Europe or anywhere else, is seriously challenged. And there are signs that a challenge is coming. In the past few days, the Russian government has recognized passports from the phony “republics” that Russian-armed, Russian-controlled “separatists” have created in eastern Ukraine — perhaps, as one Russian official suggested, as a prelude to granting them Russian passports or even annexing the territories outright. Russian planes repeatedly buzzed a U.S. destroyer on patrol in the Black Sea. Most ominously, Russia has reportedly deployed a new generation of cruise missiles, a move that violates existing arms treaties and could make it easier for Russian bombs to reach European capitals.

There is no reason to think that these small “tests” will not be repeated. And if any one of them explodes into something worse, then talk of “shared values” will not help. Nor will repeated reassurances from Cabinet members. At some point, the enforced ambiguity will fall away, it will not be possible to disguise reality with “Swedish incidents” and we will learn what the president actually believes. I just hope that we are all prepared.

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Our partners in the international order we created - some of whom we conquered to make it possible - are now seeking to defend it from us. Let's say that again, Defend it from us. How do we now as loyal Americans look at the warnings of the French and the Germans, as well as the British and our other erstwhile allies' warnings? This is a complicated question which different people, depending on their professions and governmental responsibilities and personal dispositions, must answer in different ways. But we cannot ignore the fact that the American experiment is now in a kind of exile - taken refuge elsewhere - and the executive power of the American state now under a kind of, hopefully temporary, occupation.

We face a comparable dynamic at home. I have been thinking for weeks that the central challenge and reality of the Trump Era is what do you do as an institutionalist when the central institutions of the state have been taken over, albeit democratically, by what amount to pirates, people who want to destroy them? To put it another way, do the institutions and norms which Trump and his gang are trying to destroy become shackles and obstacles in the way of those trying to defend them? There['re] no easy answers to these questions.

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bob
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+ I dunno, I think a lot of people looked at the TPers not as patriotic Americans but as bat shit crazy. Their difficulty in [. . .]
On Emulating the TP vs Trump’s GOP
CK MacLeod
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+ They will still have to cope with a version of the same conflict at every stage and level. Sooner or later, or constantly, any political [. . .]
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bob
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+ Sure, that's a fair characterization of the discussion outlined in the tweets. My point is that the information we have about "the left" is [. . .]
On Emulating the TP vs Trump’s GOP

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