Thursday, March 23, 2006

Pro-Family Aristotelians

Law professor David Forte, in his brief piece in The Meaning of Marriage on the Framers' attitude to marriage, offers a helpful aside.

The American Revolution was made by practical Aristotelians, and therefore was pro-family. They saw the family as one of the seedbeds of virtue necessary to make worthy citizens of a republic.

The French Revolution, by contrast, was made by utopian Platonists, and therefore was anti-family. They saw the family as standing against the state, which alone has the capacity to educate citizens to virtue.

4 comments:

ken mcintyre said...

To paraphrase Mark Twain, I prefer Aristotle for the climate and Plato for the company. An Aristotelian world is a better place to live, but Plato is a better read.

Gruntled said...

Are all authoritarian regimes Platonic in a significant sense?

Aaron White said...

I'm not sure I'd go to say that all authoritarian regimes are platonic in their idea. Authoritarian regimes usually, to take a spin from the Apology, tend to "think they know when in fact they do not". The wisdom of Socrates was that he knew that he did not know, where others thought they did but in fact do not.

I admit, though, I haven't read all of the Republic or Plato to make the call for myself, but that's my input on the question.

Aristotle was sort of a response to when the platonic ideals didn't quite work out for his time and place.

Speaking of ideals, there's a lot about family and marriage, but what's a single guy to do? I'm curious on your take on single guys in society, if there is anything to it more than the married man.

Gruntled said...

I begin my family class with the claim, "A single man is the most dangerous thing in the world. Most social problems are caused by single men. All the forces of civilization are bent to turn the prodigious energies of single men to productive use. That is what marriage and fatherhood can do."

That said, as a Christian I know that there have been some remarkably useful single men -- but most of them had higher help.