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Commonplaces

Piquant excerpts lifted from Touchstone editors' own reading & listening.



I would not represent [Robert E.] Lee as a prophet, but as a man who stood close enough to the eternal verities to utter prophecy sometimes when he spoke. He was brought up in the old school, which places responsibility upon the individual, and not upon some abstract social agency. Sentimental humanitarianism manifestly does not speak the language of duty, but of indulgence. The notion that obligations are tyrannies, and that wants, not deserts, should be the measure of what one gets has by now shown its destructive power. We have tended to ignore the inexorable truth that rights must be earned. Fully interpreted, Lee's "duty" is the means whereby freedom preserves itself by acknowledging responsibility. Man, then, perfects himself by discipline, and at the heart of discipline lies self-denial. When the young mother brought an infant for Lee to bless, and was told, "teach him he must deny himself," she was receiving perhaps the deepest insight of his life.

Richard M. Weaver
"Lee the Philosopher," The Georgia Review (Fall 1948)


Education Commonplaces #93 July/August 2021

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