Influencing politics through culture

THE ACADEMY OF PHILOSOPHY AND LETTERS was founded in recognition that the direction of society is set by its most deeply held beliefs and aspirations. These are molded by culture in the broad sense, as represented by universities, the arts, churches, publishing, museums, and entertainment. Acting on the minds, imaginations, and moral-spiritual sensibilities of a society’s members, the culture shapes their general perception of reality and their likes and dislikes—for good or ill. Politics does not operate independently of the culture but reflects it. Though politics can also shape culture, being able to exert educational and other cultural influence is ultimately more important than winning elections. Major and long-range change presupposes a transformation of the culture. Read More.


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Annual APL Conference Took Place June 2-4, 2017

The Annual Meeting of the APL took place in Philadelphia on June 2-4, 2017.  This year we examined the theme of “Man as Political Animal: Person, Family, Polis…Empire?” Modern democratic societies hold themselves up as the singular type of regime that allows human beings to fulfill their political natures.  One representative of this type of thinking is Francis Fukuyama, who argued that with the end of the Cold War “democratic capitalism” would reign triumphant precisely because it fulfilled the human demand for “recognition.”  However, Alexis de Tocqueville observed nearly two centuries ago that the democratic impulse for equality of itself leads to the dissolution of those mediating institutions of civil society necessary to a genuine political community.  This, in turn, leaves individuals’ isolated, weak, and at last compelled by fear to entrust their lives to an ever more expansive and ever more centralized state.Despite its promise to be the truly political society, modern democracy poses threats to each of the dimensions of political life Aristotle first identified in his Politics: to the individual’s dignity as a political animal; to the family and free association; and even to the integrity of political society as such.  In the spirit of Tocqueville, the 2017 APL Annual Meeting revisited the nature of man as a political animal.

Speakers included Michael P. Federici (Middle Tennessee State University), Mark Shiffman (Villanova University), Jude P. Dougherty (Catholic University of America), and Robert Koons (University of Texas, Austin). See Full Conference Schedule.

June 5, 2017