Magazine April 16, 2018, Issue

Founding Philosopher

Freedom from Reality: The Diabolical Character of Modern Liberty, by D. C. Schindler (Notre Dame, 456 pp., $55)

Was the founding of America a devilish event? D. C. Schindler, a philosopher and theologian at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute, does not quite say so in his latest book, but the implication is unavoidable. I think it is also wrong.

Schindler takes aim at the modern idea of liberty in its paradigmatic articulation by John Locke, whose works were the main intellectual inspiration of the Founding. Schindler’s sophisticated argument radiates from a critique of Locke’s analysis of the will as self-determining power, which contrasts with the classical understanding of the will as receiving its determination from the good.


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