The Wisdom of Our Ancestors
Conservative Humanism and the Western Tradition
314 pages, 6.00 x 9.00
Hardcover | 9780268207427 | December 2023
eBook (EPUB) | 9780268207410 | December 2023
eBook (Web PDF) | 9780268207458 | December 2023
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.
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.
“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