Saturday, December 03, 2005

Notables

* Carnivalesque XI (ancient/medieval edition) is up at Blogenspiel. It's quite good. (I really like the brief discussion of the Song of Roland.)

* The Nine Ways of Prayer of Saint Dominic: a lovely little work of 13th century Dominican spirituality. (HT: Magic Statistics)

* A very thoughtful and thought-provoking post by Myers on teaching intro bio.

* Timothy Sandefur has an interesting, if unnecessarily abusive, post on Alexander Hamilton. I'm not a Hamilton expert, and I haven't read Chernow's biography; but if Chernow's biography tends hagiographical, the truth almost certainly falls somewhere between that biography and Sandefur's post. Not being a great admirer of Jefferson, beyond a few of his ideas, I'm not inclined to regard Jefferson's characterization of Hamilton as trustworthy -- on the contrary, I'm more inclined to regard Hamilton's characterization of Jefferson as right: too partial an idea of his own powers, expecting to have a greater share in things than he did, and inclined to ill humor when not getting his own way. I say 'more inclined' because on considered judgment I think it very likely that both were partly right about the other, and only partly right; for the other part, they were confused in labeling their opponents with their own flaws (a common confusion in politics). I think Sandefur's characterization of Hamilton's actions in the 1800 election is a bit extreme; there is an entirely reasonable interpretation under which Hamilton's actions are just ordinary politics. It is certainly true that Hamilton seems to have a long history of taking things too personally; although given how much he was vilified by his opponents, it's a bit tricky to estimate exactly where the line should have been. I think Madison is right that Hamilton had a tendency to think that the government should be 'administrationed' into something new; and the common opinion of him at the time that he was strong in ambition and weak in discretion is unfortunately true. I've never actually seen a good argument for Hamilton's corruption, so I'll have to defer to Sandefur on that point. I'm not sure I follow Sandefur's reasoning about the duel, which seems just to be a vague analogy. Of course, for full disclosure: it's no secret that I like Hamilton; I have no distaste for flawed heroes, and despite my rather non-Hamiltonian political tendencies, I find Hamilton more likable than most of our other flawed Founding Fathers.

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