Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-x24gv Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-05-24T05:48:04.555Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 February 2010

R. Bruce Douglass
Affiliation:
Georgetown University, Washington DC
David Hollenbach
Affiliation:
Boston College, Massachusetts
Get access

Summary

Neither as a doctrine nor as a project is the American Proposition a finished thing. Its demonstration is never done once for all; and the Proposition itself requires development on penalty of decadence. Its historical success is never to be taken for granted, nor can it come to some absolute term; and any given measure of success demands enlargement on penalty of decline.

John Courtney Murray, SJ

America, scholars are fond of saying, is a nation that owes its existence to ideas. Perhaps uniquely so. And what they have in mind, of course, when they speak this way are serious ideas – ideas of the sort that find expression in solemn declarations and lend themselves to being characterized as a “philosophy.” It is a paradoxical claim, to be sure, because the way of life that has developed on these shores is scarcely one that has been conducive to philosophical reflection. And it cannot be said that philosophical reflection is an activity held in much respect by Americans, either. But the claim remains true, nonetheless, and it tells us something important about who we are as a people.

For even though we may pride ourselves on being “pragmatic” (as opposed to doctrinaire) and go out of our way to insist that one person's opinion is as good as the next (almost regardless of who the person is and what the opinions in question are), there is, at the same time, no mistaking the fact that there are some things about which we are very principled. We may be disinclined to read philosophical works very much and impatient with the sort of arguments they expound.

Type
Chapter
Information
Catholicism and Liberalism
Contributions to American Public Policy
, pp. 1 - 16
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 1994

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×