Volume XI Number 2

Ottawa, Canada

Fall 1999


Message from the President

Francis Peddle

The relationship between speculative philosophy and the organization of civil society, between philosophical economics and ecological equilibrium has not been systematically developed in modernity. Philosophers, such as Kant and Hegel, would not have imagined how a residual science such as economics, could spiral off into an unbridled Pythagoreanism or how ethics could collapse into that to which it is applied. The fragmentation of the intellectual disciplines is as much the adoption of other values, of mathematics, of hypothetico-deduction, of proof and of manipulative engineering, as it is isolation and xenophobia.

There are two recently published antidotes to these developments, Arundhati Roy’s The Cost of Living and Dierdre McCloskey’s The Vices of Economists. The former is an architect writing about the diabolical absurdities of big dam construction and population displacement in the Narmada Valley in India, the latter a professional economist who rails against statistical significance, blackboard proofs and social, or rather, people engineering that perversely dominate her chosen discipline. While few writers today have the historical and philosophical perspective, much less the perseverance, to elaborate a metaphysics out of their painfully won insights, these authors, in their thin volumes, manage to coalesce a world-view that shatters much conventional wisdom. The Cost of Living, especially, combines an informed non-fictional narrative with a powerful, poetic style that intuitively applies many of the philosophical and economic principles of Henry George. Towards the end of The Greater Common Good (pp.80-81), in The Cost of Living, she intones:

The Cost of Living, especially, combines an informed non-fictional narrative with a powerful, poetic style that intuitively applies many of the philosophical and economic principles of Henry George. Towards the end of The Greater Common Good (pp.80-81), inThe Cost of Living, she intones:

Big Dams are to a nation’s “development” what nuclear bombs are to its military arsenal. They’re both weapons of mass destruction. They’re both weapons governments use to control their own people. Both twentieth-century emblems that mark a point in time when human intelligence has outstripped its own instinct for survival. They’re both malignant indications of a civilization turning upon itself. They represent the severing of the link, not just the link – the understanding – between human beings and the planet they live on. They scramble the intelligence that connects eggs to hens, milk to cows, food to forests, water to rivers, air to life, and the earth to human existence.

This issue of ELEUTHERIA contains Part IV, the final instalment, of “Metaphysic and Dialectic: Ancient and Modern” by James Lowry. It is expected that this series will be published by the Institute as a Monograph. Also in this issue are some reflections on Hegel’s Concept of Denken by Mark Nyvlt, who is currently doing a Ph.D. in philosophy at Boston University, and working primarily in the area of the relationship between Hegel and Aristotle.

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