In The Wisdom of Our Ancestors, the authors mount a powerful defense of Western civilization, sketching a fresh vision of conservatism in the present age.
In this book, Graham McAleer and Alexander Rosenthal-Pubul offer a renewed vision of conservatism for the twenty-first century. Taking their inspiration from the late Roger Scruton, the authors begin with a simple question: What, after all, is the meaning of conservatism? In reply, they make a case for a political orientation that they call “conservative humanism,” which threads a middle way between liberal universalism and its ideological alternatives. This vision of conservatism is rooted in the humanist tradition (that is, classical humanism, Christian humanism, and secular humanism), which the authors take to be the hallmark of Western civilizational identity. At its core, conservative humanism attempts to reconcile universal moral values (rooted in natural law) with local, particularist loyalties. In articulating this position, the authors show that the West—contra various contemporary critics—does, in fact, have a great deal of wisdom to offer.
The authors begin with an overview of the conservative thought world, situating their proposal relative to two major poles: liberalism and nationalism. They move on to show that conservatism must fundamentally take the form of a defense of humanism, the “master idea of our civilization.” The ensuing chapters articulate various aspects of conservative humanism, including its metaphysical, institutional, legal, philosophical, and economic dimensions. Largely rooted in the Anglo-Continental conservative tradition, the work offers fresh perspectives for North American conservatism.
Opening Remarks Introduction: Conservatism: Quest for a Quiddity 1. Humanism: The Master Idea of Western Civilization 2. The Metaphysics of Conservatism 3. Establishment 4. Law 5. Humanistic Enterprise 6. The Conservative Via Media: Between Nationalism and the Dream of Cosmopolis 7. Liberty 8. Conservatism without Reprimitivism Concluding Remarks Bibliography Index
Graham James McAleer is professor of philosophy at Loyola University Maryland and the author of a number of books, including Erich Przywara and Postmodern Natural Law: A History of the Metaphysics of Morals (University of Notre Dame Press, 2019).
Alexander S. Rosenthal-Pubul is lecturer at Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Advanced Governmental Studies and director of the Petrarch Centre, LTD. He is author of The Theoretic Life: A Classical Ideal and Its Modern Fate.
Alexander S. Rosenthal-Pubul is lecturer at Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Data Analytics, Policy, and Government and director of the Petrarch Centre, LTD. He is author of The Theoretic Life: A Classical Ideal and Its Modern Fate.
Daniel J. Mahoney is the Augustinian Boulanger Chair and professor of political science at Assumption College.
“This book offers an extended and interesting argument concerning one of the major ideological perspectives in contemporary politics—conservatism. It is a well-argued, well-wrought, thoroughly engaging work to which, when I have a copy on my shelf, I will return frequently for reference.” —Thomas Heilke, co-author of From Ideologies to Public Philosophies
"McAleer and Rosenthal-Pubul navigate a wide field of thought in their survey of the modern political landscape, ranging from Francis Fukuyuma on one end to the Russian philosopher Aleksandr Dugin, dubbed 'Putin’s brain,' on the other. The authors take Roger Scruton as their guide, but along the way they encounter such thinkers as Dostoevsky, Leo Strauss, Pierre Manent, and Nikolai Berdyaev. Here, as Daniel J. Mahoney notes in his foreword, is a book 'rich, learned, and invigorating.'”—The New Criterion
"In their learned book, The Wisdom of Our Ancestors: Conservative Humanism and the Western Tradition, Graham James McAleer and Alexander S. Rosenthal-Pubul…argue for a conservative humanism that, when understood in the full light of Western thought, is built on the trinity of religion, family, and education.”—Religion & Liberty