It is time for the next phase of this blog. I have written an article, Puritans, Prigs and the Tyranny of Petty Coercion, looking at two of Marilynne Robinson’s essays in The Death of Adam and how they resonate with Mansfield Park. The purpose of this article is really to launch a new blog, Mansfield Park, devoted to analysing the novel, starting with a series of articles commentating on various aspects of each chapter (from the second volume onwards, when Sir Thomas returns from Antigua). As I am devoted to the heroine of the novel I am not anticipating too much in the way of complementary comments–but the great thing about blogs is that you get to throw the tomatoes, and though that conversation insight can arise for both of us.
I have also written a series of articles, A Philosophical Manifesto, explaining my conception of philosophy and why I think the writings of Jane Austen are particularly relevant to our modern philosophical crisis. Sadly, many of these articles are a bit forbidding, much more forbidding than they should be. Philosophy shouldn’t be like this (it is indicative something wrong) but I have to address philosophy as it is understood today rather than as I think it should be, which is accessible, beautifully written, profound and, above all, wise; i.e., what is to be expected from a Jane Austen novel. Her writings have such power to engage, and are so well adjusted to our times, are written with such subtlety and psychological insight, that they seem to make all other philosophy pale in comparison. I know Buddhist philosophy is quite staggeringly profound, subtle, vast and psychologically acute, but it is unlikely to resonate in the same way to all but a minority of modern occidentals–or at least I suspect it is unlikely to. Austen connected modernity to our special heritage; this is a connection we badly need.
I have also written an article, ‘Big’ Ethics and the War on Terror, trying to separate out the strands of some of the strands surrounding the ethics of the prosecution of the so-called War on Terror, basing the analysis on a recent discussion between Megan McArdle and Daniel Drezner. Some of the most bitter critics of the instigators of torture may have more in common with the objects of their contempt than they are aware of.
I hope to be bringing more shorter articles as I spend a bit more time writing for my own blog than commenting on others than hitherto.