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Uploaded: Sunday, 28-05-2017 New
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This incisive new book offers a critical analysis of the political thought of the nineteenth-century American philosopher, journalist, and social critic Orestes Brownson. Gregory S. Butler examines Brownson's work by drawing on the theoretical perspective of the political philosopher Eric Voegelin. According to Voegelin, every civilization seeks to interpret itself through the creation and utilization of symbols and myths, or what he defines as the representation of a "transcendent order". Butler, through Brownson's works, identifies the symbols that aid both in expressing the meaning of the American experiment and in illustrating the current debate about the failures of the human experience in a secular society. Butler became interested in Brownson through a series of studies in ethics and morality in American politics. He found his own views compatible with those of Brownson, who not only disputed the prevalent theory that morality has no place in politics but argued that morality is an integral part of the political process. Extensively utilizing Brownson's lesser-known writings, Butler examines, in chronological order, the phases of Brownson's personal and spiritual development, thereby assessing the importance and contemporary relevance of his thought. He gives special attention to Brownson's belief that the moral interpretation assigned to American political symbols - Liberty, Equality, the Rights of Man - are derived from the American understanding of the nature and destiny of the human soul. Brownson eventually came to believe that humankind can only progress by finding inspiration in the divine and that the American political order must be based in the Christian, especially theRoman Catholic, moral tradition. Butler's work offers at once the most complete picture of Orestes Brownson's political thought along with a distinctive view of American history and politics from a Voegelinian perspective. Butler's book will appeal to historians, political scientists, and students of Eric Voegelin and his methodology, as well as to Catholic and mainline Protestant scholars dealing with political questions.