The Corner

Theorycons

Philosophy is anything but useless. Allan Bloom’s Closing of the American Mind is a great example of a book by a theorist that was popular (number one best-seller), powerfully written, and really did something in the world (i.e. launched our contemporary culture war). Everything Bloom said derived from his understanding of political philosophy. Certainly, virtually everything I write is informed by my own reading of social and political theory. Without all that, I couldn’t make the arguments I make on gay marriage, the problem of democracy in Iraq, or most anything else. I don’t deny the power of great prose, clear thinking, or a literary sensibility. I admire all of these things, even though my own literary sensibility is greatly wanting. But it would be a great mistake for conservatives to deny themselves the power of theory, which is beautiful in its way. The beauty of theory is not in the prose, but in the structure and penetration of the ideas. It’s an acquired taste–not for everyone, yet not to be despised. I cannot live without it.

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