Secular Right | Reality & Reason

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At Culture11 Ivan Kenneally asks, Is Darwinian Conservatism Postmodern?:

Larry Arnhart is surely the best proponent of Darwinian Conservatism, and not just because he has a blog with the same name. In his view, an evolutionary biological account of nature properly captures our intellectual and moral capacities, the emergence of consciousness itself, and grounds a political and cultural conservatism by demonstrating our natural limits as political and social beings. Does this count as a species of postmodern conservatism? It might fail as appropriately conservative since nature is made all too dynamic–if our current human condition is nothing other than the latest stage in a train of evolutionary developments then on what basis can we privilage this one as the final one? Does Darwinian conservatism require an End of History, some kind of final eschatology? Also, does evolutionary biology do justice to the real human person as we experience ourselves or is there something about our characteristic resistance to nature and eros for transcendence that eludes Darwinian categories of explanation? If the heart of postmodern conservatism is an experiential realism that rescues the real human person from modern abstraction, Darwinian conservatism might fail by identifying human nature too closely with our bodily selves, with nature as such. So is Darwinian Conservatism insufficiently postmodern and insufficiently conservative?

Nature is dynamic, but very fast evolution works on the order of tens of generations. I perceive political orders as the possibilities of the present. What is conservative in one age varies from what is conservative in another age. Why demand of Darwinian Conservatism what one does not demand of conservatism writ large? Darwinian Conservatism does not do justice to the human individual, but it is much more serviceable in addressing human populations, what we might term societies. The true interlocutor which Ivan is looking for is “Psychological” or “Cognitive” Conservatism, which might focus on individuals as natural phenomenon which develop over a lifetime.

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