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« Why No Chinese Terrorists? | Main | Hurricane Katrina: Bush Lost the Mandate of Heaven »

August 25, 2006


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The sensibility which you isolate here is neither "Confucian" or "Burkean," but common to most political thinkers who have not been seduced by abstract universalism characteristic of late modern liberal thought. Perhaps its most famous classical Western exponent is Aristotle and his articulation of the "love of one's own," and it finds its most colorful (not to say curmudgeonly) modern exponent in James Fitzjames Stephen and his Liberty, Equality & Fraternity--a point-by-point rebuttal of J.S. Mill's rootless cosmopolitanism. As Rousseau said in his Consideration on the Government of Poland, "the extension of human sentiment is limited," and therefore the intensity of human sentiments becomes ever more attenuated the further you get from the self.

Thanks for the thoughtful comment. Yes, this reflects a wide and deep vein of political thought. My purpose is simply to keep the Chinese ancients in the conversation. Americans and, I suspect, Europeans tend to begin such discussions with citations of Aristotle with nary a menation of Confucius and Mencius.

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