Wednesday, June 16, 2010

How radical is the Texas State Board of Education?

Sandy Levinson

David Williams, who teaches political science at University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, published a quite remarkable op-ed in the Daily Texan--he received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas several years ago--on some of the implications of the seeming recent endorsement by the Texas State Board of Education of such thinkers as Thomas Aquinas, Montisquieu, and Voltaire (not to mention Rousseau, on whom David is a specialist. Consider only Aquinas, who wrote that "business, absolutely speaking, is wicked, since it does not essentially signify a worthy or necessary objective," but instead, when absolutized, is simply a testament to the deadly sin known as greed or the lust for profit. (Can you spell BP?) So I look forward to Texas students being asked, on a future final exam, about how one can escape (assuming that is possible at all) the "wickedness" that is attached to the standard economist's view of business, by which, as if by magic, the public benefits from private vice (i.e., the lust for profit? Or, if one can indeed distinguish between private vice and public benefit with regard to business, then why stop there? Are we indeed living within a highly relativized, or at least far more morally complex, universe than we might hope is the case? Was the Texas State Board snookered by ostensible conservatives in embracing someone like St. Thomas? Or the State Board expect young Texans to become proficient in debating the intricacies of Thomistic argument (and the arguments of the other philosophers mentioned)?

The Dialectic does indeed work in strange and mysterious ways, including the hyper-conservatives on the Texas Board of Education seving as the agents for a radical critique of the central commitments of the modern Right.


Thomas Aquinas also wrote:

"As regards the individual nature, woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active power of the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness in the masculine sex; while the production of a woman comes from defect in the active power."

Do you endorse this position also?

"If forgers and malefactors are put to death by the secular power, there is much more reason for excommunicating and even putting to death one convicted of heresy."

[Of course, this position is not a particular problem for Texas]

As to the original quote, we might attribute its position to another thing he said:

"Because of the diverse conditions of humans, it happens that some acts are virtuous to some people, as appropriate and suitable to them, while the same acts are immoral for others, as inappropriate to them."

Thus those not inclined to do business may find it immoral, while others find it virtuous.

Also, Voltaire was a Deist, which isn't something I'd think the Texas BOE wants students to know.

I wonder how many of the Board members have read the authors in question. And here I thought conservatives were all about caution in the face of unintended consequences.

Geeez. May I put in a plea for more legible word verifications? Lots of us are, well, past the age of super-vision.

(And, on this one, I get 'gypery,' which is close to offensive.)

Anybody who could be offended by a random sequence of letters is overly sensitive.

A lot of ThAq was much a creature of his time.

For the extirpation of the "wickedness" from the specific case of BP, I think we are structured to look to MMS for oversight, as well as, perhaps, MMS' parent department's IG.

Some of the political and constitutional developments in the centuries after ThAq solved some of his mundane recalcitrancies.

Are the word verifications really random? Seems like I always get "prepared" and "endtimes" as my words...

Are the word verifications really random? Seems like I always get "prepared" and "endtimes" as my words...

ooh; that's creepy.

And, Brett? Lighten up.

But there is a broader point here: that "conservatives" is an overly broad appellation involving a very wide range of views that cannot be avoided (or ridiculed) simply by labeling them

Very nice article

thanks a lot

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