"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Saturday, March 12, 2016

"Tolerance," Liberalism, and End of Excellence



Per Lawrence Serewicz' fine essay here, Leo Strauss on the current crisis of virtue:



Scholarship, which is meant to be a bulwark of civilization against barbarism, is ever more frequently turned into an instrument of rebarbarization...

[T]his time the danger is greater than ever before. For this time the danger stems from the inspiration of scholarship by what is called a philosophy: Through that philosophy the humane desire for tolerance is pushed to the extreme where tolerance becomes perverted into the abandonment of all standards and hence of all discipline, including philological discipline. But absolute tolerance is altogether impossible; the allegedly absolute tolerance turns into ferocious hatred of those who have stated most clearly and most forcefully that there are unchangeable standards founded in the nature of man and the nature of things... 
True liberals today have no more pressing duty than to counteract the perverted liberalism which contends “that just to live, securely and happily, and protected but otherwise unregulated, is man’s simple but supreme goal”, and which forgets quality, excellence, or virtue.
--From "The Liberalism of Classical Political Philosophy"Review of Metaphysics, Vol. 12, No. 3 (March 1959) 

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