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"Philosophy in the Mass Age, Essay 1", by George Grant

I) The old traditions are losing their grip and influence
  • i) The spread of corporation capitalism -- even to Nova Scotia (p.5).
  • ii) The assimilation of art and church for the edification of the new system (p.9-10).
  • iii) The assimilation of reason and education to the purposes of control and domination of nature and others; pragmatism & Dewey, William James (p.10-11).
  • iv) Mass repression, but also the potential for liberation result with the elimination of scarcity (p.12-13)
II) The Owl of Minerva takes wing at twilight."; perhaps the best of the oppressed youth will be driven to philosophy and theology (p.13).

III) "By their fruits you shall know them." (p.14)
  • i) Philosophy as the negation of the self, self-transcendence, and negation of what is most dear to society (p.15)
  • ii) Modern man: Man makes history, 'meaning' created in unique acts (p.15).
  • iii) Ancient man: Living out divinely established patterns, 'meaning' a given, ritual a re-enactment of an archetype, samsara and cycles (p.16-17)(p.18-19).
  • iv) History as a process v. History as irrelevant (p.19-20).
  • v) Important now: engineers, businesspeople and administrators -- those who change the world (p.22).
  • vi) Not important now: idle lovers, artists, pray-ers, and thinkers -- the old and the useless (p.22).

"Philosophy in the Mass Age, Essay III" by George Grant
"Natural Law"

I) "Only a madman could maintain that the distinction between honourable and dishonourable, between virtue and vice is only a matter of opinion" -- Cicero, "a practicing lawgiver" (p.32)

II) "Aristotle once said that the belief that there was a moral law depended ultimately on how we interpreted the movement of the stars (an allusion to final cause)." -- Grant, (p.28)

III) Modern "philosophy" turns reasoned minds away from the question of meaning and purpose, to practical pursuits which satisfy the passions by dismissing the natural law or its very invocation. All law is argued to be conventional." (p.32-33)

IV) Modern Man no longer considers himself as part of the natural order or subject to a divine law. "We are authentically free since nothing beyond us limits what we should do." -- Grant, (p.38)

V) Hegel's "cunning of reason" -- the unintended effects of acts such as Luther's. (p.39)

VI) Judaism replaced the religions of re-enactment and eternal re-occurance with the revelation of a God who intervenes continuously in history, along with a final purpose represented by the redemption by the Messiah. The "Great Day", therefor, was no longer in the past, but the future." (p.40-41)

VII) "Time no longer repeats itself endlessly as the moving image of an unmoving eternity." -- Grant, (p.41)

VIII) "It becomes, rather, the vehicle of God's will." -- Grant, (p.41)

IX) "As belief in God was driven from men's minds it was not (as in the classical world) replaced by a sad humanism [of whittling away time pleasantly...] but with a progressive humanism." -- Grant, (p.46)

"Philosophy in the Mass Age, Essay VI" by George Grant
"American Morality"

I) "Do we reject spiritual freedom and law more or less than marxism?" (p.76)

II) The N.A. of today is built upon the ashes of Puritanism -- a unique occurance in the world (p.77); our moral language is thus inherited from them.

III) "Calvinism was an immensely practical faith [as opposed to the mysticism of Lutheranism]" (p.77)

IV) Hidden God, totally transcendent, no natural law or other "hints" outside of the Bible of revelation (p.78).

V) "One could only contemplate God in Jesus Christ, and go out and act as best one could" (p.78)

VI) Calvinist egalitarianism -- a priesthood of believers.

VII) Sputnik elicited a sigh of relief -- "Finally, a practical goal... further excuse not to think about what will make life meaningful after practical problems are settled." (p.81)

VIII) N.A. pragmatism:
  • i) James and Dewey claimed to be freeing us from Protestant transcendentalism (p.83).
  • ii) In reality, theirs is a Protestant humanism (Santayana) (p.83); (observe their telling attacks on Greek thought and emphasis of work in the world).
  • iii) "An idea is true as long as it is expedient in our lives" -- William James.
  • iv) "To believe in the absolute, James said, was to take a moral holiday." -- Grant (p.83).
  • v) Pragmatism is thus progressivism without end.
  • vi) Captures the popular imagination and its focus on ordinary comforts in life (p.84).
IX) Commentary on pragmatism (Grant):
  • i) Is a philosophy which exalts action and life over thought, cannot condemn any action as categorically wrong.
  • ii) Any such philosophy is iniquitous (p.85).
  • iii) "As would be expected from its Puritan origins, pragmatism has a fuller account of freedom than law." (p.87)
  • iv) Dewite education has produced students where there is intellect without purpose (p.88).

"Philosophy in the Mass Age, Essay VI" by George Grant
"The Limits of Progress"

I) Why Marxism failed in the West but succeeded in the East.
  • i) It actually subordinates human freedom to the "objective conditions of the world". (p.66)
  • ii) After being made even cruder by Engels, then Lenin, the Party came to ruthlessly suppress individuality with newfound "scientific" justification. (p.67)
  • iii) Marxism in the East was adapted to simple, materialist, practical goals rather than the realization of human freedom; it could not address the spirit of freedom which the West had already gone through (p.67).
  • iv) Freedom has actually been suppressed for the sake of practical objectives (p.67).
  • v) Eastern Marxism does away with those very Christian, escatological goals which were at its heart.

II) Ancient v. Modern (p.70-71)
  • i) Acceptance of the conditions of life v. the rebellion against them.
  • ii) Acceptance or not in the relationship with the world.
  • iii) Acceptance or not in our relationship with each other.
  • iv) Acceptance of God v. negative, then positive, rejections of God as a limit.

"Philosophy in the Mass Age, Essay VIII and Appendix II" by George Grant
"Law, Freedom, and Progress"

I) "How can we think an absolute morality that does not deny human freedom and the hope that evil will be overcome?" -- Grant, (p.91)
II) "It is indeed the failure to resolve this contradiction [of the unchangableness of God, together with the God who works in history] which makes me unable to accept any of the traditional theologies as adequate." -- Grant, (p.91)
III) "The justification of moral law would involve showing that without such a conception [that all of our agonies] must count as nothing, and why they do not so count." (p.93)
IV) Modern Protestantism condemned for being an uncharitable, uncommunicative, intellectual ghetto (p.94).
V) A moral language must be concerned with communication; appeal to faith insufficient (p.95).

"Appendix II"

I) Written in 1966; seven years after the original publication.

II) "If a man still hungers for the bread of eternal life in the midst of the modern dynamism, he must seek to satisfy that hunger, even though he knows his talents are limited." (p.118)

III) Living traditions all destroyed, most turn back to the past.

IV) Grant's loss of faith in the reconciability of the old traditions with the new (p.119)
  • i) ...loss of faith in Hegel (p.120).
  • ii) ...loss of trust in human redemption in the form of leisure (p.120).
V) Hegel did not do better than Plato (p.121-122)

VI) Thanks to Strauss (p.122).

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