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« Free Reads—The Source of Consciousness | Main | Celebrity Smack Down »

November 20, 2002

Free Reads -- Sullivan on Oakeshott

Friedrich --

I sometimes suspect that I'm evolving into little more than a public-relations agency for the philosopher Michael Oakeshott. So be it: there's been little in blogging that I've enjoyed more than learning that I've helped a few people give Oakeshott's writing a try. If you respond to Oakeshott as his fans do, reading him delivers something really cherishable -- an experience of esthetic rapture as well as an experience of political soundness. Some people seem to find that bewildering; me, I bliss out.

The polemicist and blogging superstar Andrew Sullivan wrote his thesis on Oakeshott; I've been hoping to get a chance to read it someday. Until then, this will do very well, a recent lecture (followed by a q&a session) Sullivan gave to the American Enterprise Association on the topic of Oakeshott, the Skeptical Conservative, here.

Sample passage:

He loved the young. He loved their sense of endless possibility. He loved their sense of play. He just thought they should never be allowed anywhere near government.

So, too, I think he would love American life and vibrancy and urgency, its experiments, its radicalism, its constant churning. He just wouldn't want to see it replicated in government. He said once, "I'm a conservative in government because I'm a radical in every other human activity. The only way in which we maximize the possibilities of human beings to invent themselves and reinvent themselves, pursue their own ideas and models and desires, is when we make sure the government is strong enough and firm enough to maintain a society which allows such freedom to exist. That requires sobriety, judgment, prudence."

Like I say: bliss.

(Link via Junius.)



Update: Andrew Sullivan emails that he's hoping to make his thesis on Oakeshott available sometime soon on the website of the Michael Oakeshott Association. I'll let readers know when that happens.

posted by Michael at November 20, 2002


Regarding Oakeshott:

David Brooks on Saturday wrote that Oakeshott believed "we should always guard against the sin of intellectual pride, which leads to ideological thinking". If this is true, I find it hard to believe he would be comfortable with America's current leaders.

Posted by: Montaigne on December 27, 2003 2:20 PM

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