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  • Learning’s Legal Spirit: Montesquieu on Education as the Study of Law

    February 15, 2019

    The history of political philosophy is the history of education. Its content, its prospects, its goals—all receive copious attention, from Plato’s Republic to the Scholastics, from Locke and Rousseau to Nietzsche and Rawls.  For education is a central concern to any political community, doing much to form the character,…

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  • Modernity, Friendship, and the Purpose of Liberal Education

    February 14, 2019

    Thank-you Professor Cheng, the Lingnan University Office of Global Education, and the sponsors of this conference for inviting me to join you at this crucially important conference in this beautiful hotel. It is a great honour to come all the way from Canada to speak to you today. The…

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  • How to Recover China’s Censored Reality

    February 13, 2019

    Surviving the State, Remaking the Church: A Sociological Portrait of Christians in Mainland China. Li Ma and Jin Li. Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications (Wipf and Stock Publishers), 2017.   For people whose country is known for censorship and self-censorship, writing in a foreign language is like taking refuge in…

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  • Varieties of Chinese Nationalisms and Their Implications on Religions

    February 12, 2019

    Religion and Nationalism in Chinese Societies. Cheng-tian Kuo, ed. Amsterdam University Press, 2018.   A Varieties of Chinese Nationalisms and Their Implications on Religions This volume is a collection of papers discussing “the origin, development, content, and implications of religion-state relations” in mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong (10).…

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  • Reading Augustine’s Confessions in Dalian Labor Camp with Liu Xiaobo

    February 11, 2019

    Liu Xiaobo was the Chinese dissident writer and 2010 Nobel Peace Prize recipient who passed away this past June. He died of liver cancer while serving out the eleven-year sentence he received in 2009 for his role in the Charter 08 movement that modeled itself after the Charter 68…

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The Landmark Julius Caesar: The Complete Works. Kurt A. Raaflaub, ed. and trans. New York: Pantheon Books, 2017.
 
As part of The Landmark Series, The Landmark Julius Caesar is another brilliant presentation of primary sources combined with a collection of maps, pictures, and notes to make ancient works navigable to new readers. The accounts in this edition – the Gallic War,…

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The Age of Caesar: Five Roman Lives. Plutarch. Translated by Pamela Mensch with Preface and Notes by James Romm and Introduction by Mary Beard. New York: W. W. Norton, 2017.
 
Born around 45 AD, Pluatrch (later Romanized as Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus) grew up and spent most of his life in Chaeronea where he actively participated in local political and religious affairs.…

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Crisis and Constitutionalism: Roman Political Thought from the Fall of the Republic to the Age of Revolution. Benjamin Straumann. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.
 
Crisis and Constitutionalism is an extraordinary book that recounts the Roman tradition of constitutionalism: 1) rules that were considered entrenched; 2) rules that were of great importance through which political power was exercised; 3) rules that betrayed…

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Leo Strauss and His Catholic Readers. Geoffrey M. Vaughan, ed. Washington D.C.: Catholic University Press, 2018.
 
“Strauss embraced classical philosophy over religious faith, not as a system of set doctrines, but as a ‘way of life’ following the model of Socrates, featuring a Socratic ignorance and a searching (zetetic) or erotic skepticism. In this view, the philosopher lives happily with merely…

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Every second year, the first week of January is a time of change in US politics.  Some senators and members of the House of Representatives leave national, legislative politics, either voluntarily, because they retire, or involuntarily, because they are defeated, and a new crop of legislators is sworn into office.  Last week saw more change than normal.  Many Republican members…

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Pursuits of Wisdom: Six Ways of Life in Ancient Philosophy from Socrates to Plotinus. John M. Cooper. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012.
 
Pursuits of Wisdom examines six widely diverging individual ethical philosophies in the continuous tradition from Socrates to Plotinus. Each philosophy is a study of what constitutes a good or bad moral character as articulated by Socrates, Aristotle, the Stoics,…

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The Craft of Thought: Meditation, Rhetoric, and the Making of Images, 400-1200. Mary Carruthers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.
 
The craft of monasticism is to make prayer continuously based on the reading and recollection of sacred texts. This practice of mneme theou, “the meaning of God,” requires a memory that includes cognition, emotion, and imagination in the activity of recollection. In…

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The Medieval Craft of Memory: An Anthology of Texts and Pictures. Mary Carruthers and Jan M. Ziolkowski, eds. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002).
 
This anthology examines the medieval craft of memory: how we recollect or “see again” our past experiences in a process that includes thought and will. Memory consequently is both passive and active, the storage of our past…

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The mystery of the liturgy coincides totally with the mystery of operativity
- Giorgio Agamben
 
In my opinion, Giorgio Agamben is the most important contemporary European theorist.  Political theology in the anarchist tradition, to which Agamben subscribes, has for its goal the exorcism of theology from political economy.
Though Agamben is a leftist, his argument is in the spirit of Eric Voegelin –…

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The Centrality of the Regime for Political Science. Clifford Angell Bates, Jr. Warsaw, Poland: Wydawnictwa Uniwersytetu Waszawskiego, 2016.
 
The Centrality of the Regime for Political Science examines the political community as Aristotelian regimes rather than the Machiavellian state. For Aristotle, the regime is the political community that emerges out of discrete and heterogeneous parts, like the households, while the state for…

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