The Historical Mind

Timely and provocative assessment of various cultural, moral, and political problems in “post-constitutional” America.

America is increasingly defined not only by routine disregard for its fundamental laws, but also by the decadent character of its political leaders and citizens—widespread consumerism and self-indulgent behavior, cultural hedonism and anarchy, the coarsening of moral and political discourse, and a reckless interventionism in international relations. In The Historical Mind, various scholars argue that America’s problems are rooted in its people’s refusal to heed the lessons of historical experience and to adopt “constitutional” checks or self-imposed restraints on their cultural, moral, and political lives. Drawing inspiration from the humanism of Irving Babbitt and Claes G. Ryn, the contributors offer a timely and provocative assessment of the American present and contend that only a humanistic order guided by the wisdom of historical consciousness has genuine promise for facilitating fresh thinking about the renewal of American culture, morality, and politics.

“By exploring what humanistic renewal might entail, this book offers judicious and insightful perspectives about what the past teaches us about the limits of human beings in society and how to be prudent within the context of universal morality given these limitations.” — James A. Todd, Palm Beach Atlantic University

“‘What communism, Nazism, and progressivism share in common is a rejection of the moral realism that inspired and justified the development of limited government.’ That lapidary statement typifies the depth and clarity of this remarkable collaborative effort. Its diverse authors reacquaint readers with the moral imaginations of such giants as Edmund Burke, John Quincy Adams, Russell Kirk, Robert Penn Warren, Eric Voegelin, Irving Babbitt, and Claes Ryn. How refreshing it is in today’s academy to hear ‘Let things be called by their right names!’” — Walter A. McDougall, Pulitzer Prize–winning historian, University of Pennsylvania

Justin D. Garrison is Associate Professor of Political Science at Roanoke College and the author of “An Empire of Ideals”: The Chimeric Imagination of Ronald Reagan. Ryan R. Holston is Professor and Jonathan Myrick Daniels ’61 Chair for Academic Excellence at Virginia Military Institute.
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