Peter Lawler

About Peter Lawler

Peter Augustine Lawler (1951-2017) was a Senior Contributor to The Imaginative Conservative. He served as Dana Professor of Political Science at Berry College in Georgia. He was the editor of the quarterly journal Perspectives in Political Science and authored Postmodernism Rightly Understood: The Return to Realism in American Thought, Aliens in America: The Strange Truth about Our Souls, Modern and American Dignity: Who We Are as Persons, and What That Means for Our Future, and American Heresies and Higher Education.

What Is Human Dignity?

By |2019-09-17T14:09:48-05:00July 8th, 2017|Categories: American Republic, Immanuel Kant, Peter A. Lawler, Philosophy, Rights|

We display our dignity by imposing our will on nature to create a world where we can live as dignified beings—or not as miserably self-conscious and utterly precarious accidents… As we remember our friend Peter Augustine Lawler (1951–2017), we are proud to publish this selection from his insightful book Modern and American Dignity (Intercollegiate Studies Institute, [...]

What Can the Puritans Teach Us About Philanthropy?

By |2020-01-09T11:11:34-06:00January 10th, 2017|Categories: American Founding, Peter A. Lawler, Social Institutions|

Our Puritans were the most serious of philanthropists. They became pilgrims not in the service of some get-rich-quick scheme, but to make an idea real. They developed unprecedented political institutions grounded in heartfelt democratic civic duty, and they provided for the education of everyone as creatures not only born to work, but to share [...]

Should the Constitution Be Venerated?

By |2016-11-15T09:20:38-06:00October 21st, 2016|Categories: American Founding, American Republic, Constitution, Featured, Federalist Papers, History, Liberty, Peter A. Lawler|

The instinctive conservative response is to reject the idea of the living constitution for various and conflicting reasons. One such reason is the conservative recognition that even a free country depends on tradition. Federalist 49 says the Constitution should be very hard to change in order that it pick up “the veneration that time [...]

Our Hero: Socrates in the Underworld

By |2019-11-07T08:07:45-06:00June 26th, 2016|Categories: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Books, Essential, Featured, Peter A. Lawler, Senior Contributors, Socrates, Timeless Essays, Truth|

Today’s offering in our Timeless Essay series affords readers the opportunity to join Peter Augustine Lawler as he reflects on how Socrates models both rightly-ordered eros and logos, in contrast to the Stoics and Sophists. —W. Winston Elliott III, Publisher It is my pleasure to be able to introduce Nalin Ranasinghe’s Socrates in the Underworld: [...]

Funding the Forecasting Failures of Political Science

By |2015-11-06T16:55:36-06:00November 6th, 2015|Categories: Economics, Peter A. Lawler, Politics, Science|

There’s a distinguished political scientist—Jacqueline Stevens—who agrees with me that the National Science Foundation (NSF) ought to cut the funding for political science. The Republicans in Congress think that these “scientists” are covertly pushing an ideological agenda that lurks behinds all their jargon and “methods.” That’s somewhat true. When applied to the lives of [...]

The Darwinism of Amazon

By |2015-09-30T17:08:47-05:00September 30th, 2015|Categories: Economics, Peter A. Lawler, Technology|

Here is what I learned from the article* about Amazon in the New York Times: Amazon is the place where your performance is constantly monitored with the latest metrics and you better not have a baby or get cancer. And where you embrace the “purposeful Darwinism” that encourages you to rat out your fellow [...]

Manliness: Proving Darwin Wrong

By |2019-09-10T16:35:11-05:00September 27th, 2015|Categories: Culture, Featured, Peter A. Lawler, Religion, Science|

America’s two most astute social commentators, the political philosopher Harvey Mansfield and the novelist Tom Wolfe, have weighed in on the debate over the neo-Darwinian view of evolution. They agree that the real controversy in our country is not between rationalists who preach evolutionism and fundamentalists who live in Darwin-denial, but between those who [...]

What is the Role of Leo Strauss in Conservative Thought?

By |2015-07-31T12:03:41-05:00July 23rd, 2015|Categories: Conservatism, Featured, Leo Strauss, Peter A. Lawler|Tags: |

One difference between postmodern conservatives and other contributors to First Thoughts has to do with being influenced by Leo Strauss. Each pomoncon can speak for himself (or herself). But I would say that we all regard that influence as making us better and especially more astute thinkers and readers of first-rate books than we would otherwise be. [...]

Should a Liberal Education Include the Study of Law?

By |2019-09-05T12:55:39-05:00June 25th, 2015|Categories: Constitution, Education, Justice, Liberal Learning|

So here’s* my contribution to a symposium on “originalism” as the mode of interpreting the Constitution that facilitates the maximization of the libertarian value of “negative liberty.” Everyone else in the symposium operates on a higher pay grade than I do when it comes to really knowing all about the controversies in the field [...]

Don’t Make Me Love My Work!

By |2019-09-02T10:01:01-05:00June 18th, 2015|Categories: Capitalism, Economics, Featured, Labor/Work, Peter A. Lawler, Steve Jobs|

Silicon Valley Miya Tokumitsu writes* with incisive elegance about our altogether elitist and self-indulgent view that our experts have these days about the relationship between love and work. That view, of course, originates mainly from Silicon Valley: Your great work, which you love, is so creative and productive that it makes you fabulously rich, [...]

Top Ten Points About the Next Technology Revolution

By |2015-06-11T15:05:57-05:00June 11th, 2015|Categories: Culture, Revolution, Technology|

Vinod Khosia has managed* to say a lot in a few words about the consequences of “the next technology revolution.” Let me just list some points for discussion: 1. That revolution comes when it’s finally possible to construct “systems with judgment and decision-making capability more sophisticated and nuanced than trained human judgment.” And it’s [...]

Liberal Conservatives … and Conservative Liberals

By |2015-05-27T10:51:47-05:00May 15th, 2015|Categories: Conservatism, Edmund Burke, Featured, Peter A. Lawler|

Thanks so much to Carl for his able account—complete with astutely copious quoting—of Yuval Levin’s essay in Modern Age.* Modern Age, of course, was founded by Russell Kirk and has remained infused with “traditionalist” conservatism, which is often contrasted (as it is by our James Ceaser) with libertarianism and “natural rights” conservatism. Yuval ably displays [...]

Grateful Hope in Things Unseen

By |2015-11-10T17:57:03-06:00May 8th, 2015|Categories: Christianity, Education, Flannery O'Connor, Peter A. Lawler, South|

Alan Jacobs patiently explains why even the most scrupulous of scholars can’t understand the first thing about Flannery O’Connor’s stories without at least a good deal of biblical literacy.* Well, a real poet or a person with genuine artistic and psychological sensitivity can understand something about her writing without the Bible. John Huston’s film [...]