Irving Babbitt

Irving Babbitt (August 2, 1865 – July 15, 1933) was a Harvard literary scholar and cultural thinker. Babbitt’s books include; Literature and the American College (1908); In The New Laokoon (1910); The Masters of Modern French Criticism (1912); Rousseau and Romanticism (1919) & Democracy and Leadership (1924).

Irving Babbitt and the Buddha

By |2014-10-23T08:31:06-06:00October 23rd, 2014|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Irving Babbitt, Stoicism, Western Civilization|

One of western civilization’s greatest defenders in the twentieth century, Harvard University’s Irving Babbitt, founder of the New Humanism, best friend to Paul Elmer More, and the teacher of T.S. Eliot, considered it vital to read and comprehend the greats of non-western culture as well. Indeed, against Jean Jacques Rousseau, Babbitt embraced the inherent [...]

American Burke: Irving Babbitt

By |2017-09-19T12:43:15-06:00April 2nd, 2014|Categories: Conservatism, Edmund Burke, Irving Babbitt|Tags: |

For conservative thinkers the past 15 years have been a season of self-assessment. In moods of disenchantment, anger, and even betrayal many have staked out positions differentiating their views from what today commonly passes for “conservatism.” In 2004 Patrick J. Buchanan published Where the Right Went Wrong, a work that, like much of this [...]

Irving Babbitt: Not Quite Who You Thought He Was

By |2016-07-01T12:00:26-06:00July 15th, 2013|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Ideology, Irving Babbitt|

As the leader of the American humanists, Irving Babbitt (1864-1933) stood solidly and forthrightly in the American conservative tradition of John Adams and Nathaniel Hawthorne and drew upon the greats of world (not merely western) civilization for his arguments: Socrates, Plato, Cicero, Virgil, Confucius, and Horace. At least, this is how Russell Kirk has [...]

Reflections on Leadership

By |2019-04-07T10:51:40-06:00May 30th, 2013|Categories: Democracy, Featured, George A. Panichas, Irving Babbitt, Leadership|Tags: , |

“In the long run democracy will be judged,” writes Irving Babbitt in Democracy and Leadership (1924), “no less than other forms of government, by the quality of its leaders, a quality that will depend in turn on the quality of their vision.” Babbitt’s words should remind us that the need for leadership, always urgent, [...]

Will the Future Be Superficial?

By |2018-08-31T14:28:03-06:00May 25th, 2013|Categories: Conservatism, Irving Babbitt, Quotation|

Irving Babbitt According to Mr. Lloyd George, the future will be even more exclusively taken up than is the present with the economic problem, especially with the re­lations between capital and labor. In that case, one is tempted to reply, the future will be very superficial. When studied with any degree of [...]

Irving Babbitt & Richard Weaver: Conservative Sages

By |2019-05-02T12:28:56-06:00May 16th, 2013|Categories: Character, Conservatism, Culture, Featured, George A. Panichas, Irving Babbitt, Order, Richard Weaver|Tags: |

Irving Babbitt Richard Weaver Character and Culture: Essays on East and West, by Irving Babbitt, with a new Introduction by Claes G. Ryn Visions of Order: The Cultural Crisis of Our Time, by Richard M. Weaver, with a foreword by Russell Kirk Two modern American teachers and critics who can [...]

Making Modernity Human: Can Christian humanism redeem an age of ideology?

By |2016-02-12T15:28:36-06:00November 8th, 2012|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, C.S. Lewis, Christian Humanism, Christianity, Irving Babbitt, J.R.R. Tolkien, Russell Kirk|Tags: |

Irving Babbitt, C. S. Lewis, Russell Kirk In a world agog with labels and categories we too often leave important ideas behind. With paleocons, traditionalists, neocons, Leocons, libertarians, classical liberals, anarcho-capitalists, distributists, and agrarians, the right can be as bad as the left in its fetish for classification. One group that defies [...]

Democracy and Leadership: An American Classic

By |2015-02-17T22:41:16-06:00October 18th, 2012|Categories: Books, Claes Ryn, Irving Babbitt, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Leadership, Politics|Tags: |

Democracy and Leadership by Irving Babbitt. Foreword by Russell Kirk, Liberty Classics, 1979, 390 pp. The appearance of a new edition of Irving Babbitt’s Democracy and Leadership (first published in 1924) is one sign among many that interest in this controversial thinker is growing markedly. Several scholarly studies related to his work have been [...]

The War of the Three Humanisms: Irving Babbitt and the Recovery of Classical Learning

By |2016-07-26T15:39:50-06:00April 5th, 2012|Categories: Classical Education, Classical Learning, Irving Babbitt, Liberal Learning|Tags: |

Irving Babbitt Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?—T.S. Eliot, Choruses from the Rock Irving Babbitt (1865–1933) is not much remembered today, except perhaps through Sinclair Lewis’s snarky naming of the eponymous villain of the satire of mid-American manners and mores, Babbitt, [...]

The Achievement of Irving Babbitt

By |2014-01-24T11:39:17-06:00February 22nd, 2012|Categories: Conservatism, Irving Babbitt, Jean-Jacques Rousseau|Tags: , |

Irving Babbitt To define Irving Babbitt’s central view of life, from which radiate all his other views—of letters, of education, of society—I commence by quoting not his own words, but those of a different writer—one whom he would not have approved. For in reading Bertrand Russell’s recent autobiographical volume Portraits from Memory, [...]

How Conservatives Failed “The Culture ”

By |2019-04-07T10:52:26-06:00October 10th, 2011|Categories: Claes Ryn, Conservatism, Culture, Featured, Film, Irving Babbitt, Russell Kirk, William F. Buckley Jr.|Tags: |

Many supposedly intellectual conservatives seem to consider ideas and culture from afar, as it were, feeling no deep personal need for or intimate connection with them. Some are in a way attracted to the arts or even to philosophical speculation, but see no significant and immediate connection between these and the life of practice. Ideas [...]

Teenage Russell Kirk: His First Academic Article

By |2015-05-19T23:13:36-06:00August 31st, 2011|Categories: Aristotle, Bradley J. Birzer, Classics, Conservatism, Heroism, Irving Babbitt, Paul Elmer More, Russell Kirk|

Below are quotes from Russell Kirk’s first published academic article, “Tragedy and the Moderns.” The article appeared in January 1940, when Kirk was just beginning his second semester of his senior year in college. He wrote it, however, during either his freshman or sophomore year at Michigan State, under and with the encouragement of [...]

Democracy and Leadership: Irving Babbitt’s Classic

By |2018-10-16T20:25:22-06:00May 18th, 2011|Categories: Irving Babbitt, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Leadership, RAK, Russell Kirk|Tags: |

Irving Babbitt Democracy and Leadership, first published in 1924, still is in print at the end of a whole generation. This new printing indicates how little ephemerae found their way into the body of Babbitt’s writings, and how he foresaw, far more clearly than his opponent John Dewey, the great issues of [...]