Monday, February 20, 2012

Not too enlightened ...

... The University Bookman: The Substance of Nothing. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

First, as Harold Berman and Brian Tierney among others have shown, the origins of rights lie, not in abstract secular theorizing, but in the religious thought and practice of the middle ages, buttressed and spread by a plurality of legal (including ecclesiastical) jurisdictions that tamed the powers of kings. Second, as thinkers from philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville to sociologist Robert Nisbet have pointed out, the era of “enlightenment” saw, not liberation, but brutal political centralization and the elimination of the ecclesiastical sphere as part of the birth of modern tyranny. Third, and most relevant here, Horwitz overlooks the highly destructive means and bigoted intentions behind the shift from “orthodoxy-with-toleration” to “true liberalism.”

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