nouveau intellectual

In brief the need is to restore to their predominance in the curriculum those studies that train the imagination, not, be it said, the imagination in its purely aesthetic function, but the imagination in its power of grasping in a single firm vision, so to speak, the long course of human history and of distinguishing what is essential therein from what is ephemeral. The enormous preponderance of studies that deal with the immediate questions of economics and government inevitably results in isolating the student from the great inheritance of the past; the frequent habit of dragging him through the slums of sociology, instead of making him at home in the society of the noble dead, debauches his mind with a flabby, or inflames it with a fanatic, humanitarianism. He comes out of college, if he has learnt anything, a nouveau intellectual, bearing the same relation to the man of genuine education as the nouveau riche to the man of inherited manners; he is narrow and unbalanced, a prey to the prevailing passion of the hour, with no feeling for the majestic claims of that within us which is unchanged from the beginning. In place of this excessive contemporaneity we shall give a larger share of time and honor to the hoarded lessons of antiquity. There is truth in the Hobbian maxim that “imagination and memory are but one thing”; by their union in education alone shall a man acquire the uninvidious equivalent in character of those broadening influences which came to the oligarch through prescription–he is moulded indeed into the true aristocrat. And with the assertion of what may be called a spiritual prescription he will find among those over whom he is set as leader and guide a measure of respect which springs from something in the human breast more stable and honorable and more conformable to reason than the mere stolidity of unreflecting prejudice.–Paul Elmer More (Aristocracy and Justice)

For more on Paul Elmer More and Liberal Education visit The Imaginative Conservative BookstoreThe Imaginative Conservative applies the principle of appreciation to the discussion of culture and politics—we approach dialogue with magnanimity rather than with mere civility. Will you help us remain a refreshing oasis in the increasingly contentious arena of modern discourse? Please consider donating now.

We hope you will join us in The Imaginative Conservative community. The Imaginative Conservative is an online journal for those who seek the True, the Good, and the Beautiful. We address culture, liberal learning, politics, political economy, literature, the arts, and the American Republic in the tradition of Russell Kirk, T.S. Eliot, Edmund Burke, Irving Babbitt, Paul Elmer More, Wilhelm Roepke, Robert Nisbet, M.E. Bradford, Eric Voegelin, Christopher Dawson, and other leaders of Imaginative Conservatism (Visit our Bookstore to find books by/about these men).

We address a wide variety of major issues including: What is the essence of conservatism? What was the role of faith in the American Founding? Is liberal learning still possible in the modern academy? Should conservatives and libertarians be allies? What is the proper role for the American Republic in spreading ordered liberty to other cultures/nations?

We have a great appreciation for the thought of Russell Kirk, T.S. Eliot, Irving Babbitt, and Christopher Dawson, among other imaginative conservatives. However, some of us look at the state of Western culture and the American Republic and see a huge dark cloud which seems ready to unleash a storm that may well wash away what we most treasure of our inherited ways. Others focus on the silver lining which may be found in the next generation of traditional conservatives who have been inspired by Dr. Kirk and his like. We hope that The Imaginative Conservative answers T.S. Eliot’s call to “redeem the time, redeem the dream.”

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