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Bringing a dif­ferent per­spective to campus, Patrick Deneen will be speaking about Leo Strauss at 8 p.m. on April 23.
Deneen is the David A. Poten­ziani Memorial Asso­ciate Pro­fessor of Con­sti­tu­tional Studies at Notre Dame Uni­versity. He is a regular author for both First Things mag­azine and the American Con­ser­v­ative.
“Patrick Deneen cher­ishes the clas­sical con­ception of political com­munity or the polis,” Assistant Pro­fessor of History and Sym­posium faculty adviser Matthew Gaetano said. “He believes that Aristotle’s per­spective on pol­itics pro­vides what is nec­essary for human flour­ishing. Like many at Hillsdale, he sees our current social and eco­nomic struc­tures as inimical to that kind of com­munity and therefore to hap­piness itself. Deneen chal­lenges us at Hillsdale by asking about whether deeply-held American beliefs like con­tract theory or natural rights may be a part of explaining why we are facing the problems of our own time.”
The invi­tation to come speak at Hillsdale was extended after some stu­dents attended an Edith Stein con­ference at Notre Dame and met Deneen there. Senior Katie Summa, Sym­posium trea­surer, was one of those stu­dents.
“Basi­cally, I read his article in First Things a few years ago, and I was at the Edith Stein con­ference in Feb­ruary,” Summa said. “He gave this beau­tiful talk about libraries as temples of knowledge, and it was very beau­tiful. And he’s involved in ISI, and so I went up and talked with him after­wards, and emailed him and invited him to come, and he was very willing.”
Junior Mattie Van­derBleek, a double major in pol­itics and history, also met Deneen at Notre Dame after reading much of his work.
“I like that he’s engaging in a debate that a lot of people don’t want to have,” Van­derBleek said. “I think he’s doing it seri­ously. He enter­tains the question that we might be entering into a postliberal society. He enter­tains the pos­si­bility that lib­er­alism has run its course. If that is the case, we need to be pre­pared to revisit the the­o­retical grounding of liberal political theory.”
In his article titled “Unsus­tainable Lib­er­alism” he said, “Thus the liberal exper­iment con­tra­dicts itself, and a liberal society will inevitably become ‘postliberal.’ The postliberal con­dition can retain many aspects that are regarded as liberalism’s tri­umphs — equal dignity of persons, in par­ticular — while envi­sioning an alter­native under­standing of the human person, human com­munity, pol­itics, and the rela­tionship of the cities of Man to the city of God.”
Deneen has already been in dis­course with Hillsdale, as Asso­ciate Pro­fessor of Phi­losophy Nathan Schlueter has written responses to some of Deneen’s articles.
“He’ll be speaking on Leo Strauss,” Sym­posium pres­ident senior Devin Creed said. “He def­i­nitely has a dif­ferent per­spective than everyone in our pol­itics department.”
Besides asking dif­ficult but nec­essary ques­tions about pol­itics, modern lib­er­alism, and con­sti­tu­tion­alism, Deneen has also written a cri­tique of the great books tra­dition in his article “Against Great Books,” in First Things mag­azine.
Sym­posium officer junior Chris McCaffery said this per­spective is one of the things that make his presence on campus valuable.
“Myself and the other officers of the Sym­posium, think, from reading his pub­lished writings and inter­acting with him, that he has an inter­esting per­spective on America’s political order and pol­itics in general,” McCaffery said. “We are excited to have him on campus.”