Friday, October 09, 2009

The Great Lincoln-Darwin Debate, part 2

Continuing with yesterday's post, Lincoln agreed with the Founders -- to put it mildly, for he truly revered them -- that "there are certain fixed principles beyond which progress is impossible."

Think about that for a moment, for it says everything you need to know about what man is, and how dramatically he stands out from the rest of creation. It's a little pathetic when scientists, as they so often do, use the findings of science to try to minimize or eliminate our unique cosmic standing -- as if, say, the heliocentric theory literally displaces man from the center of creation, or our relative smallness in the face of the vastness of the physical cosmos places any actual limit on the limitlessness of man's imagination. As we will see, this represents a kind of "reverse omnipotence" which eventually reduces to infinite stupidity and the rule of morons.

After all, the vastness of the cosmos is only conceived in man's imagination and no place else. In the absence of man, there's not even a cosmos, since it is obviously a form of our sensibility. No one has ever seen this construct called "the cosmos," and no one ever will, for it is in man, not vice versa.

Every serious scientist implicitly recognizes the truth of this, in that he believes that reality is capable of being understood -- which is to say, contained -- by the mind. To say cosmos is to stand outside of it. And again, to say "natural selection" is to stand infinitely above it, on pain of automatically refuting whatever truth the theory may express.

And "infinite" is the precise adjective, since the distance between truth and falsehood is infinite. There are not degrees of truth between 2 + 2 = 4 and 2 + 2 = 5. Rather, it is an either/or proposition. Likewise, there are not degrees of acceptance of America's founding principles. Thus the irrevocable and absolutist language: "We hold these truths to be self-evident." "Inalienable rights." "Nature and nature's God."

Therefore, as I've said before in so many different ways, the real debate is between absolutism and relativism. And it is a debate that the relativists of the left cannot win unless they first undermine the plain meaning of our founding documents. Instead of embodying the fixed principles toward which our task is to evolve, the founding documents must become an elastic and mutable organism that evolves itself, a la Darwinism, in which all is change and nothing is fixed. Everything is back on the table -- life, liberty, property, slack.

Thus, the documents truly become "just anything." To think otherwise is to be an absolutist, which for the left is a kind of oppressive fascism instead of ultimate liberation. For the conservative, liberty is a priceless gift; for the leftist, it's a curse. So the absolutists must learn to compromise between what the Constitution says and what the left wishes it to mean. In short, 2 + 2 can = 3.78, or 4.22. Let's negotiate. There's wiggle room.

Which, oddly enough, is actually a different kind of absolutism, similar in way to Hegel's "bad infinite." It reflects the primitive psychological defense mechanism of infantile omnipotence, through which the child perpetuates the illusion of primary omnipotence beyond the stage at which it is appropriate. This often occurs due to early developmental trauma, in which the reality principle impinges upon the child too early, forcing him to prematurely deal with things beyond his capacity. This is why early parenting involves providing the child with a sort of "psychic cocoon" -- or subjective womb -- from which he will only gradually hatch.

The defense mechanism of psychic omnipotence is a stock-in-trade of the psychoanalyst. As it applies to the present discussion, it involves elevating oneself over reality, i.e., the Immutable and Undeniable.

Now, man as such obviously participates in the Immutable, hence our ability to know, for example, those timeless first principles enunciated by the Founders. Bad omnipotence would come into play if we imagine that we can surpass what is already absolute. But as we shall see -- either today or in the next post -- this is the essence of the leftist project. The leftist always imagines that there are special people with special knowledge who can improve upon reality. Thus, it is always rooted in omnipotence.

The next time a leftist utters one of his omnipotent pronouncements, just remember the wise words of Kip Dynamite: Napoleon, like anyone can even know that. Manmade global warming? Like anyone can even know that. Saved or created a gazillion jobs? Like anyone can even know that. Iran's not a threat? Like anyone can even know that. If coach woulda put me in the fourth quarter, we woulda been state champions. Like anyone can even know that, Uncle Rico.

Again, Lincoln advocated the good kind of omnipotence, which provides the rock upon which our nation was built. Like a "secular revelation," these principles were "handed down by the Founding Fathers for later generations to preserve," not to squander like a bunch of irresponsible and good-for-nothing trust fund babies.

It indeed reminds me of children, who need psychological boundaries above all else, even while they will perpetually try to test them. The child imagines that he would prefer a life without parental boundaries, but would actually be terrified if they were removed.

Similarly, the Constitution is there to protect us. It contains the boundaries provided by our wise Fathers. To eliminate those boundaries is to plunge ourselves into tyranny, not freedom. If the Constitution means whatever a liberal judge wishes it to mean, that is the rule of omnipotent men, and we are back to 1775. Absolutism is our only defense against bad omnipotence. As Watson explains, our natural rights "are self-limiting.... They do not, and cannot, depend on mere will, or tradition, or History.... For Lincoln, natural rights provide the ground for a manly assertiveness in pursuit of something beyond individual satisfaction."

No wonder Schuon held Lincoln in the highest esteem: "At the antipodes of the false genius exalted by the people [and the Nobel committee--ed.*] is situated the true genius of which people are unaware: among famous men, Lincoln is one such example, he who owes a large part of his popularity to the fact that people took him -- and still take him -- for the incarnation of the average American," but "whose intelligence, capacity, and nobility went far beyond the level of average." And they did because he was rooted in the changeless, not the pure meaningless change of philosophical Darwinism.

To be continued...

(Unless otherwise noted, all quoted material is from Living Constitution, Dying Faith: Progressivism and the New Science of Jurisprudence.)

*According to Drudge, Obama "will accept the award on 'behalf of Americans and America's values.'" The irony is too thick for me to wrap my mind around. Let's just say that no one who actually held and defended American values could ever be the recipient of this prize. While they're at it, why not give one to Yasser Arafat, Jimmy Carter, or Kofi Annan? Gosh!


julie said...

Related, the other Dr. Bob

julie said...

AvS on the freedom of conforming with Truth:

For a vow is such a final surrender of human freedom and disposition to God that, through this act of humble, confident entrusting oh human life, God now possesses all that is ours and thereby has the chance - whether gradually or all at once - to use and transform what has been entrusted to him however he wishes.
It is part of the nature of a vow to be made in freedom. But the Mother's freedom, like every other freedom, is indivisible...

mushroom said...

The leftist always imagines that there are special people with special knowledge who can improve upon reality. Thus, it is always rooted in omnipotence.

This is true. I was listening to a local radio call-in show some time before the '08 election. A caller said, "Why do you keep complaining about elitists? I want the elite to lead. I want the really smart people to run the country."

It's nice to have experienced people making decisions, I'll admit. My guess is, with life expectancy what it is today, the Founders would have raised the age barriers for elected office. Nevertheless, the beauty of the Constitution and our Republican form of government is that, when the documents are respected, it is nearly idiot-proof.

Though, as we say in software, they keep making better idiots.

Susannah said...

Great stuff, Bob! And natural troll repellant, apparently...

Northern Bandit said...

Great find julie!

The other Dr. Bob is nicely complimentary to Dr. Bob a.k.a. The Slackster. Reinforces today's crucial point that our fight ultimately boils down to the coon's knowledge of absolutes versus the leftist's negative knowledge of absolute relativism.

Also after reading about Nahdlatul Ulama which is possibly the world's largest Muslim group, and which is by and large flatly opposed to everything we associate with Wahhabism, I am more convinced than ever that there are forms of Islam despite the obvious problems that are far closer to where we live spiritually than a purely demonic man like Bill Maher. Give me a thoughtful and humble Sufi-influenced Indonesian merchant over a Olberman or a Michael "Forgot to Flush" Moore any time.

Gagdad Bob said...

If we all imitate Obama and do absolutely nothing, we will indeed have world peace.

julie said...

I'm doing my part...

debass said...

"If we all imitate Obama and do absolutely nothing, we will indeed have world peace."
Surrender is always an option. Maybe we could give the terrorists part of the US like DC and Hollywood. I know I wouldn't miss it.
District of Columbiastan, Hollywoodstan. It does have a nice ring to it.
Maybe we could try Sharia law in a state that has something in common with the terrorists. Let see now.
1. Like to shoot guns and blow things up.
2. Run around in dirty nightshirts.
3. Bad dental hygiene.
4. Abuse women and children.
5. Poor grooming habits.
6. Uneducated.
7. Poor communication skills
8. Cowards.
9. Have junk cars scattered about.

Now if we could get them to drink alcohol, I can think of several states that they would blend right in.

Anna said...

"It reflects the primitive psychological defense mechanism of infantile omnipotence, through which the child perpetuates the illusion of primary omnipotence..."

Leftists have a strange combination of "the illusion of primary omnipotence" and the disillusion of meaninglessness of it all. 'I'm just a result of random chance. I mean nothing. I am omnipotent!' It's the old power grab in the face of a truth-void, but on a psychological level, it's functionally pretty contradictory. Where's the humility? And for those who acknowledge man's true place in the universe, where's the vanity?

julie said...

Looks to me like there's vanity in abundance.

WH advisor: Sharia is good for the ladies!

Kinda like how that black eye just means he loves her, but it's a special kind of love, you wouldn't understand...

Now granted, there's no knowing how seriously her advice is taken in the White House, but the fact that she's there and this is what she openly advocates is troubling, because again it shows an egregious lack of judgment on the part of the POTUS.

Then again, maybe he figures it would be a mercy if FLOTUS decided to try a burkha for her next fashion experiment...

Anna said...


Oh, I did worry that was a little unclear. I meant that people who know man's worth are greatly humbled, whereas people who demote man to nothing special have the vanity thing going on. It's a little ironic that the ones who are nihilistic are so puffed up in their egos. Kind of ironic. But by their fruits... If man is nothing, then why don't act like it? Why aren't they the humblest of the bunch? It's the ones who say man is made in the image of the Creator who are the 'woe is me', God have mercy, humble folk.

mushroom said...

Sorry, debass, not only do us hillbillies have 'shine, we make our living off "hawgs, dawgs, and lawgs" -- nearly as offense to the Muslims as to the environmentalists, I'm sure.

Not to mention we like our women just a little on the trashy side, when they wear their clothes too tight, and their hair is dyed. Unless they are fixin' to make a bare midriff burka with some daisy-dukes, they might be happier sticking to the more sophisticated parts of the country.

julie said...

Anna - no worries, I was actually just trying to make it seem like I wasn't interjecting something completely random into the conversation :)

Ken said...

Today's postings would not be complete without at least one mark of a benign troll, to stir up the raccoons...It is interesting that Lincoln with his devotion to the American "national religion" - adherence to philosophy of the founders, the Constitution and the D of I , and his deepening spirituality during the war - was otherwise previously known for his skeptic and almost secular outlook, a perspective characterized by most historians as pragmatic and centrist. In the famous 1860 Cooper Union address he said "I do not mean to say we are bound to follow implicitly in whatever our fathers did. To do so, would be to discard all the lights of current experience - to reject all progress - all improvement" -This was in the context of arguing that the constitution allowed the regulation, but not the abolition, of slavery, which was enough to trigger war with the slavocracy, whose defenders also cited the constitution, though rigidly, in their favor. Five years later, his position "evolved"; he did free the slaves as a FEDERAL action, again running smack against the "constitutionalists" of the slaveocracy, who lacked one value that Lincoln had - the belief in equality (which has roots in both classical tradition and Christianity). It is the value of equality (embedded in the D of I) that gives him a "progressive" side, and motivated his invocation of federal power to pursue it, as progressives in the American tradition have always done. Unfortunately most progressives in that tradition have lacked sufficient adherence to another value all progressives should also have - liberty.

julie said...

It is the value of equality (embedded in the D of I) that gives him a "progressive" side, and motivated his invocation of federal power to pursue it, as progressives in the American tradition have always done.

If you think you're disagreeing, I suspect you are, well, wrong. Certainly Lincoln's actions were progressive, in the sense that abolishing slavery was actually progress toward an ideal - namely, the ideal that all men are created equal, and that slavery is thus intrinsically wrong and antithetical to the American ideal.

He favored equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome, which is strictly impossible without destroying man as such.

Today's "progressives" actually favor policies that would drive us farther away from any lofty ideal, Sacred or secular, towards a laughty udopian paradise where mama state takes care of everything from healthcare to housing, cradle to grave, and if some of the little folk have more or better accommodations than others, it is expected they will give it up for the common good. Unless, of course, one has friends in high places, in which case one is more equal than others.

Progress in and of itself is not a bad thing - provided that it truly is from a worse situation to a better one, from the periphery toward the Absolute. For instance, progress made in the medical fields means that there's never been a better time to have health problems in this country, in spite of all the griping about the sad state of American health care. Today's progressives don't consider the results of their well-intentioned ideals, they think it should be good enough that they "want the best" for everyone, no matter how much it hurts.

Gagdad Bob said...


I'll have no comment until I finish reading the complete speeches and writings of Lincoln, which I'm working on at the moment. I want to try, insofar as it is possible, to understand the totality of the man, since I agree with Schuon that he was a superior being, very likely a vibhuti with a spiritual mission that he only gradually realized. That being the case, the one thing you don't want to do is focus on an isolated comment -- or even a preluminary stage -- outside the total context of his life.

debass said...


I just thought we could give them a chance since they are just underprivileged and poor and don't really mean us any harm. Besides it would provide us with a target rich environment as we used to say.
btw, someone came up with the burkini about a year ago.

Contra Rebels said...

"I'll have no comment until I finish reading the complete speeches and writings of Lincoln, which I'm working on at the moment. I want to try, insofar as it is possible, to understand the totality of the man, since I agree with Schuon that he was a superior being, very likely a vibhuti with a spiritual mission that he only gradually realized. That being the case, the one thing you don't want to do is focus on an isolated comment -- or even a preluminary stage -- outside the total context of his life."

It is interesting,nonetheless, to note some of those individual sayings and actions within that overall context. If, indeed, Lincoln was a superior being, and therefore a man with a mission, it should be noted what kinds of things heaven will allow him to do, things clearly in opposition to the constitution. And, conversely, if he was not, then it is of interest to note that he was a ruthless tyrant in many instances, in spite of his lip service to liberty.

Gagdad Bob said...

Your ancestors lost their slaves. Get over it.

Gagdad Bob said...

By the way, no post today. It's that unhappy time of year -- continuing education time, in which I must temporarily discontinue my education in order to satisfy the state.

Gagdad Bob said...

However, if you're really bored, I'm in the process of assembling a Raccoon Store, that will have all my book, music, and lingerie recommendations.

ximeze said...

...continuing non-education time... in order to satisfy the state.

On the bright side, after that forced exposure to idiocy, B'atman always comes back with hilarious bobservations.

julie said...

Speaking of lingerie, is it just me or shouldn't there be some cognitive dissonance in this statement:

"Hungarians used to laugh about plastic surgery but it's time for Hungarian women to care more about their appearance. They are the most beautiful in Europe."

If they're already the most beautiful, why plastic surgery? Shouldn't basic grooming and a little makeup suffice?

More here. I can't help it, this is just hilarious:

"I'm suing my hair supplier because what they supplied caught fire while it was being dyed.

"Luckily before it had been fitted to my head."

(Of course, I'm glad no one was hurt. But flammable fake hair? Just wow.)

julie said...

Switching gears again back to Darwinism, this morning the tv was on the Science channel, for a show about the extinction of the dinos and the emergence of mammals. The narrator started talking about the development of placentas and internal gestation, which was interesting, but the way he phrased it was odd, something to the effect that "the new mammals found it advantageous to carry their young inside their bodies" - as though it were a conscious decision, and some reptile just woke up one day and decided to grow hair, gestate internally and lactate because it was more convenient.

But it got me to wondering about the difference between egg-laying and mammalian reproduction. How could that change have possibly happened gradually and accidentally? The mechanisms are so fundamentally different that the leap from one to the other is almost incomprehensible. Microevolution is obvious and plain to anyone with eyes; those big leaps are much more challenging to explain, absent a guiding Intelligence.

However it comes about, though, it's still miraculous.

Van said...

Excellent series of posts this week! I've been 'forced' (since a blogger change earlier this year, my PocketPC can't post a comment) to read only - kind of a strange sensation not being able to join in, but sort of soothing too... especially when reading beachside. I'll keep my comments for the week past to this one, being core to all the rest, and - amazingly - I'll keep it brief:

ken said "It is the value of equality (embedded in the D of I) that gives him a "progressive" side, and motivated his invocation of federal power to pursue it, as progressives in the American tradition have always done."

There are no elements of a "progressive" side in either the Declaration of Independence, or in anything Lincoln supported, in regards to 'equality'. Selecting quotes at random may make it simple to mislead yourself and others, but the facts remain and are there for you to find them. Lincoln used federal power in order to preserve that which ALL rights depend upon, One government under the Constitution, and without which all our rights would have been equally jeopardized or lost.

The proregressive take on 'equality', equality of distribution or outcomes, is nothing like Lincoln's usage and certainly not the Founders, or the Declaration of Independence's usage of Equality, theirs being concerned with equality of Rights,

"Thanks to John Locke's reformulation of Hobbes, the claim and implications of original equality became an American commonplace. (See ch. 2.) On the premise of original equality there is no natural subordination or ascendancy; everyone is as free as the next to order his acts or possessions or person as he sees fit. To say that all men are by nature equal is to say that every man has an equal right to his natural freedom. As little as I can rightfully diminish your freedom without your consent can you diminish mine. The solidity of this claim is quite unshaken by the manifest inequalities among men, inequalities that may persuade some men to defer to others because of some acknowledged superiority. Although much of this original equality is superseded by the conventions of society and government, the foundation of civil society itself can only be the consent of free equals to submit to such an order. Finally, and in the most critical instance, the equal enjoyment of some rights persists--because unalienable. "

- broaden your contexts.

Btw, if you widen your contexts far enough, you will discover that it was the proregressives of the democrat party (there were proregressives in the republican party as well, evenly split up to the beginnings of the 20th century, and are many still there) who first began attempting to detach the Declaration of Independence from the Constitution, for the same reason they always have, to destroy Individual Rights, and promote group privileges. It was the democrat party, that first championed 'States Rights' as a way to get around Individual Rights, funny that today they attempt to attribute to conservatives (Classical Liberals), their own motives - perhaps it's hard for them to imagine it any other way.

Enough... lots of catching up to do elsewhere....

Anna said...


Ah, it's okay... I had just been noticing an off-the-wall concept, then realized last night that it is actually quite a Biblical theme. Jesus who 'had it all' lowered Himself in humility by becoming man. I was thinking of how that is a supreme example of humility even in the highest.

Ergo over-explanation repeat:
You might think that people who believe man is made in God's image (and is the crown of creation) would have a corresponding vanity but it's the opposite - they're a humble lot. (So was being tongue-in-cheek with the 'where's the vanity?' in those with the high view of humanity.)

And for all of Darwinists' low view of humanity's place in the universe, you would think there would be a corresponding humility. But no, there is an arrogance.

It goes so against the Darwinists' entire philosophical grain to do what Christ did. Giving up His life to save others with no strings attached, no "what's in it for me?" i.e. love. A lot of stuff that wouldn't occur to the 'survival of the fittest' touters. God is pleased with the humble servant putting others first.

debass said...

If mammals evolved from reptiles, why are the reptiles still around? Or, if we evolved from apes, why are there still apes? Where is the fossil record of all the intermediate species of evolution?

Leslie Godwin said...

OT: Soldiers' Angels needs more volunteers to adopt soldiers

If you have thought about doing something to support our troops, but weren't sure that tying a yellow ribbon on the tree in front of your house would really help, I have another idea for you.

There are a shocking number of soldiers who are waiting to be adopted by some kind souls. If you'd like to give it a try, please go to:
and click on Adopt a Soldier.

You write a letter a week and send a care package a month (not anything elaborate, and they have some on the site they can even send for you.) And your soldier will often even email you at some point.

I've spoken to so many soldiers who have told me how much this means to them and their families that a stranger would offer support in this way. And they really love getting mail and the boosts their morale more than we can imagine.

Thanks for considering this!
Mrs. G

julie said...

I've noticed that - the number of soldiers waiting to be adopted has jumped way up (over 2300!), even as things are getting tougher in Afghanistan and they really need our support. And Iraq is still no picnic, either, even though we don't hear as much about it.

julie said...

Debass - I don't necessarily question that mammals came from reptiles. They had to come from somewhere, and why wouldn't god work with what was already present? Also, I was reading about the platypus this morning, which really is like a living fossil that stopped at an intermediate stage. I just don't think that it all happened gradually and accidentally. Going back to my thoughts on the reproductive systems, I know from a very personal perspective that if things go even slightly wrong - the hormones don't line up, the organs aren't in quite the right place, etc. - reproduction just doesn't happen. So the fact that advanced reptile life somehow accidentally became fully mammalian strikes me as completely absurd - the requisite changes involved make it highly unlikely that reproduction could have taken place in those intermediate stages, im(not at all scientific)o.

Also, the fact that most observable evolution has been differentiation of physical characteristics as opposed to entire new species springing up from old ones is interesting to me. Sharks are still sharks, regardless of size. The Galapagos finches are all still recognizably finches, in spite of the fact they they have differentiated enough to fit different niches and some can't reproduce with others.

Anyway, I just find it all interesting.

debass said...


I'm sorry. I wasn't aiming that at you. I was agreeing with you that evolution from one species to another is highly unlikely. I was arguing in general against Darwinian evolution in that the evolved and unevolved species are here simultaneously. Maybe some species peaked and they are devolving.
Gotta go play some music. Will check back later.

julie said...

Understood - actually, I was mostly agreeing with you, too, it's just that after I made my first comment I realized some troll was likely to jump in and say "Hey, what about the platypus?" Hence the reading.

Have fun playing music!

Susannah said...

Ah, the puzzling Platypus. (A little alliteration, there.)

"Encyclopaedia Britannica says that ‘little is known of their ancestry’ and: ‘Most authorities believe the order Monotremata originated from a line of mammal-like reptiles different from that which gave rise to the other mammals. Nonetheless monotremes may well represent features of anatomy and development that characterized the earliest mainstream mammals.’5

Scientists initially considered the platypus to be ‘primitive’, but then they discovered the incredibly complex electrolocation techniques the animal uses to find food. To evolutionists this made it a ‘highly evolved animal and not a primitive transition between reptiles and mammals.’6

The platypus, along with its fellow monotreme, the echidna, was believed to have evolved in isolation when the land mass that would become Australia (Gondwana) broke away from the other continents supposedly 225 million years ago.7 This idea of evolution in isolation followed the theory of Darwin, whose affinity for evolution may also have been influenced by his early studies of the platypus during his time on The Beagle.8

However, the discovery in the early 1990s of three platypus teeth in South America—almost identical to fossil platypus teeth found in Australia—threw that theory upside down.9 (Marsupials, too, were once considered to be exclusive to Australia, but their fossils have now been found on every continent.) Adult living platypuses do not have teeth, but the discovery of platypus fossils in Australia had already identified that their ancestors did have teeth, which were unique and distinctive.10

In reality, there is nothing in the fossil record to indicate that the platypus was ever anything other than a platypus. It is not a living ‘transitional’ form. It is a truly unique creature, and one that continues to baffle those who insist on making it fit into an evolutionary tree."

(This is from at article at AiG, a creationist site.)

xlbrl said...

There is no doubt that Lincoln was for a time an atheist, the type of insincere unbeliever who is quarreling with God. He had lost the two people in his life which he adored.
Lincoln never viewed himself as the Messiah. He was very clear that he would keep slavery if that kept Union, that he would abolish slavery if that kept Union. In that purpose he followed what course was left to him in 1861, and eventually came to believe he was not alone.

Van said...

Xbrl said "There is no doubt that Lincoln was for a time an atheist, the type of insincere unbeliever who is quarreling with God...."

What I find utterly fascinating about reading Lincoln, is that while starting from somewhat casual, general opinions on slavery, liberty, etc, events continually prod him into deeper contact with the concepts, while me may seek to turn away, he always brings himself back into deeper and deeper dealings with the issues, in the end choosing not to turn away towards the easier path, but to confront the full meaning and implications, regardless of his preferences and safety.

An astonishing Man, in part because he rose to true Greatness from the starting position of a 'typical' person.

Erik said...

Abraham Lincoln "had lost the two people in his life which he adored."

Make that three: Nancy Hanks (his biological mother, Sarah Lincoln (his sister), and Ann Rutledge (his first true love)…

I am reading Harry V Jaffa's "Crisis of the House Divided" and "A New Birth of Freedom", in preparation for a biography I am writing on the 16th president. Both books are indispensable to understand the Civil War Era, the Revolutionary Era, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and many other things…

"A morality governed by prudence is largely beyond the ken of our latter-day abolitionist historians. For them, prudential compromises in dealing with slavery are regarded as mere excuses for inaction. They have much in common with Chief Justice Roger Taney, who in the Dred Scott decision of 1857, declared that the Signers of the Declaration of Independence could not have regarded slavery a s wrong, since they did not abolish it — ignoring the fact that, in any event, they had no power to abolish it! For such historians as these, the portrayal of a "racist" American Founding is a necessary preamble to the disavowal of any authority to the principles of the Revolution, notably those enshrined in the Declaration …

"Yet for Lincoln, the wrongness of slavery and the wrongness of arbitrary power are one and the same …

"We understand … why it is against our interest to become tyrants as why it is in our interest to prevent tyrants from ruling us. That is the argument of Plato as well as Aristotle. It is the argument of the American Revolution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Gettysburg Address. Yet it is an argument held in almost no esteem today. How is that possible?

"The answer is that in our time, truth has been disarmed by the opinion that reason is impotent to know what it just or unjust, right or wrong, true or false. If there is no truth, or if the truth is beyond the power of the human mind to know, then free argument and debate as means of arriving at the truth are meaningless. Truth is thereby disarmed of her natural weapons a priori. This challenge to the principle of a free society is one that neither Jefferson nor Lincoln anticipated. Nonetheless, we assert categorically that the common sense of the subject as it appeared to Jefferson and Lincoln, although it has been denied by the mainstream of Western thought for more than a century, has not been refuted."