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
APL Annual Conference
The Annual Meeting of the APL took place in Baltimore on Memorial Day weekend of 2016. This year we examined the theme for dealing with cultural crisis identified as “The Benedict Option,” a controversial proposal that has been written about extensively by our Friday evening keynote speaker, Rod Dreher, who blogs for The American Conservative. In his dinner lecture, Rod highlighted his justification for a policy of withdrawal from mainstream American culture and an attempt to refocus efforts on rebuilding local communities, a strategy largely inspired by the suggestion of Alasdair MacIntyre in the conclusion to his seminal work, After Virtue. Throughout the course of the weekend, various aspects of the proposal were challenged and defended on both theoretical and practical grounds. Alternatives and modifications were also considered on a series of panels that raised the prospect of competing “Options” for dealing with the problem of moral and cultural decline. Members approached the subject with a wide range of reactions and opinions, and a new guest of the APL has provided his own commentary on the Friday keynote lecture here.