Led by Truth, Inspired by Beauty

with Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn,
hosted by Richard M. Reinsch II

Richard Reinsch (00:18):

Welcome to Liberty Law Talk, I’m Richard Reinsch. Today, we’re talking with Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn about her new book, Ars Vitae: The Fate of Inwardness and the Return of the Ancient Arts of Living. Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn is professor of history at Syracuse University. She’s the author of many books and essays, including the award-winning Black Neighbors, which won the Berkshire Prize. She’s also the author of Race Experts. Elisabeth, we’re glad to have you on the program today to discuss this book.

Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn (00:50):

Well, thank you so much for having me. It’s a pleasure.

Richard Reinsch (00:52):

All right. Tell us, what’s going on in the art of living? What do you want us to recover?

Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn (00:58):

Well, I think that we should pay attention to our intellectual traditions. They’re so rich and they’re so multifarious and intricate that we abandoned them at our peril. And we also abandoned them at our poverty because it impoverishes us not to have this treasure trove of different kinds of approaches for how we can live our lives and think about all of the various problems that faced human beings over time and then specific problems that face human beings in the times that they live in. I go back to ancient Greco-Roman philosophical schools of thought, because I think that even today in our popular culture, we see signs of an interest in those schools of thought even if a lot of times it is inchoate or just suggested or implied or maybe even just hidden and unconscious.

Richard Reinsch (02:01):

We can talk more about that. Because at one level to think, wow, so ancient philosophy, stoicism, Platonism, Epicureanism, we’re going to bring those into conversation with all of our problems that we have now and they can enlighten us and guide us and give us wisdom and truth and all those things. That’s ambitious. But also as I read your book, a huge part of your book is a critique, a negative moral judgment of how we live now, of how we think now, of how we approach ourselves and living with others. Talk about that because that to me, we can’t get to the classical philosophy until we understand more of what you’re saying there.

Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn (02:45):

Yeah. I think part of why I think it’s so relevant and important now in particular is because how we are living, not we as in you and me, but our dominant cultural sort of habits and trends and even mores or lack of mores. I do think we’re living in a moral crisis. I think we’re also living in a social, political and intellectual and spiritual crisis. It’s really a tough time. There are a lot of divisions among us. There are questions of principle, even obscurity about the very existence of a truth, not even talking about what the truths might be and debating them, but just is there even such a thing? It’s a pretty major crisis we’re in. I think sort of a perfect storm of different things going on. One of the main cultural movements since really since the late 19th century, but particularly taking up speed in the mid 20th century and then on into our own day, I think it’s still dominant is the therapeutic culture. And I draw very much on Philip Rieff, the classical sociologist who wrote the 1966 classic, The Triumph of the Therapeutic. And in that he was talking about this movement he saw over a long period in culture, particularly with Freud as a kind of pivot into the modern therapeutic, in which shared understandings based on religious or transcendent belief that helped communities cohere and also helped individuals think about why they would give up certain things, certain freedoms or other instincts or urges and wants and needs even.

Why would they do that? Well, there was a sort of transcendent purpose or a sense of what was sacred, what the community was aiming at, the telos in a way. Then that shifted particularly in post World War II era United States, but the so-called West more broadly, as individual freedoms sort of began to be enshrined as the ultimate principle. This was part of how many people sort of lost their sense of commitment to communities or families or polities. And instead it sort of gave a legitimacy to the pursuit of individual instincts and even greed and such. The sort of therapeutic where you just let it all out or you pursue everything that you want, regardless of other people. That sort of ethos really imbues a lot of what we have in our culture, even if it sometimes has other things laid over it or coming through it, maybe mitigating it a little bit. But there’s really a strong therapeutic push to social life now. And I think that we need something, we need to figure out really what is at the root of that therapeutic? And then what traditions of thought might be rich enough and deep enough to give us an alternative? Because I think it really leads to an impoverished way of living and there’s so many signs of that, of spiritual crisis.

Richard Reinsch (06:24):

Yeah, the author novelist, essayist, Walker Percy had this phrase, the consumer therapeutic culture.

Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn (06:31):

Oh yes, yes.

Richard Reinsch (06:33):

And I thought of that as I was just reading your critique. And consumer, he didn’t necessarily mean, although he didn’t exclude it, just sort of the materialism of our period, but consumer as in consuming ideologies as meanings of truth and those ideologies, you take your pick. Marxism, feminism, nationalism, whatever. And these sort of become ways in which people understand themselves, but what they’re divorced from would be metaphysics or theology or sort of the traditional things that have guided people throughout the course of say Western civilization broadly understood and being replaced by an ideology or the therapeutic. He was very much alert to the therapeutic. And what do you think is at root of the therapeutic? Is it the dismissal of virtue? The dismissal of sort of a truth that transcends human beings and nature that transcends human beings but sort of I’m making things up as I go and what I’m making up is kind of what makes me feel good. What do you think it means?

Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn (07:32):

Yeah, I think so. That’s a good summary. And all that you said is so fascinating to me. That reminds me so much of Eric Voegelin, who was critical of those same sort of ideologies when used especially to split the world usually in two camps of those people who are all evil and those people are all good because they ascribe to that particular ideology and it’s really a terrible way to live and it doesn’t work. It just pits people against each other. Using etiology instead of really deep ways of thinking and traditions of thought and living is not helpful and is really part of the 20th century tragedy. But yeah, so what’s at root of the therapeutic. I think it’s got different sort of elements to it. And so in my book, I put my own definition of the therapeutic because there’s a set of scholars and thinkers who have written such insightful things about aspects of the therapeutic culture, such as therapeutic as it comes through education or as we see it in the practice of religion even, which would seem to be the very opposite of it. But there are certain ways that some people practice religion that are very much in line with the consumer therapeutic. At the root of the therapeutic in my view is self interest and also a manipulative view toward other people.

Once we are shorn of any transcendent or higher reference outside of the individual that could possibly be a source of connection and meaning and commitment that gives us direction for our striving and a reason to practice virtue, we are sort of left to our own devices and the emphasis on the individual’s quest for what feels good, what is supposedly therapeutic, it makes it seem as though other people exist only as kind of auxiliaries at best and kind of stepping stones at worst. That they are just there to help fulfill the individual’s needs and wants. And so without any sense of shared purpose or the sense that shared purpose is important, people end up in a manipulative mode and not even aware of why that’s wrong or that there would be a possible alternative. It’s just widely accepted that it’s fine to pursue your needs. That would almost sound funny to many people to say, “Wait, hold on. Why did you just talk about it being so great to pursue your needs?” Because it’s such a given now that that is what the main project for each individual self is. I think those things, other things like having a health paradigm is the main kind of worldview, that everything is related to that. As long as it is sort of healthy in any individual’s idea of what healthy means, because that becomes very subjective, then it’s fine. Instead of having this phrase…

Richard Reinsch (11:05):

Hear this phrase self care a lot now.

Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn (11:05):

Yeah, self care. Oh my goodness, yes.

Richard Reinsch (11:08):

Yeah. You’re unfriendly to people who work out and spend time in the gym, but those can be good things too, though.

Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn (11:17):

Yeah, I’m not unfriendly to those people. I love those people. They’re me and everyone else around us. No, working out and things is fine. I think it’s all about with all of our human activities, don’t you think it’s all about how you do them and why you do them? And where does that activity fit in the larger scheme of your life? And would you run over someone to get to your gym because you’re on your way to be so virtuous in working out that you accidentally ignore that there are pedestrians? That kind of thing that we need a sense of perspective and proportion of what really matters and how to go about living our lives, whether we’re working out or cooking or shopping or caring for children, all the different things that we do. And one of the things that I wish we could do more is think about the ends. What is the point of different things? And then maybe we would be clear on how we should be doing what we do.

Richard Reinsch (12:30):

That’s another part of our culture too, is the instrumentalization of everything in a way and not seeing things as finally true or good in and of themself. You talk in the book, you go on in separate chapters to talk about stoicism, Epicureanism, cynicism, Platonism and then you sort of have a final summing up chapter of what all this means. Thinking about stoicism, maybe just give us the classical understanding of that and how you see that reviving in contemporary times.

Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn (13:04):

I basically encourage everyone to read the texts themselves because they’re so rich and fascinating and strangely so easy to understand even all of these years later. It might seem too old, why would we ever want to read such an old, difficult to understand text? Well, these are translated into wonderful modern English versions or if your’re Spanish, Spanish versions, Italian versions. All over the world, Chinese versions. There’s beautiful translations of all of these ancient texts because they’ve been around for a long time. Find an edition. People should find editions because I really feel they’re systematically being deprived of some of the best, most helpful resources for living, just getting by with some of the things we have to face in the human condition. That just kind of leads up to, you can see that I feel rhapsodic about stoics. People like Marcus Aurelius and his meditations and Seneca in his letters and Epictetus and his sort of programmatic list of ways to think. I don’t agree with it all and I don’t think most readers would agree with every single thing they read. And they all differ. All of these stoic authors are very different.

They have a different tone, different style, different genres they write in. It’s worth the reading lots of them, if you can or if you’re interested. But they share certain overarching things and one of them is an understanding of the various demands on the individual, on a person. They have the idea that you should really think about what the priorities are, what you should be pursuing. And then that helps you deal with all the rest and let some of the rest fall away. They really want you to be clear about what the point is and what you’re pursuing and then really dig in. And it’s about endurance and overcoming some of the at least initial emotional reactions that can steer you away from the things that you’re pursuing. I do see this coming back now. We see it in a lot of movies like the movie Gladiator.

Richard Reinsch (15:21):

You see stoicism in Gladiator?

Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn (15:23):

I actually do. I think we can debate it. And anyone ever wants to talk with me about any of these movies that I write about in a book or any other movies, I think it’s fascinating to see whether there’s a school of thought coming through a particular cultural form and movies are so prominent now. But any, any one you can think of, a painting from the Renaissance, a song from Bruce Springsteen that he just wrote or you can look at these and see what’s the sensibility behind it. And I think you can kind of see that they lean toward one of these schools of thought, not just the ones in my book, but there are more that I didn’t include in one book like the ancient skeptics, et cetera. Yeah, I think I do see stoic elements. And even if you don’t agree that there are stoic elements in the movie itself, the movie refers to those. It’s trying to say that stoicism’s still interesting. But there’s a whole movement of the new stoics. And these are real people today who gravitate toward websites and online schools and classes and also events in the real world like Stoic Week. And there’s a real following for stoicism today. I think a lot of it is unconscious and you can see it in many places where no one’s proclaiming the new stoicism, but there’s also a conscious element of it. When I look at some of the new forms, I do see a difference sometimes with the ancient forms. That’s what I do with each of the schools of thought that I look at in the book.

Richard Reinsch (17:04):

Do you see the stoicism now, you say in the book is sort of like, well you write about one gentleman who writes a book on stoicism for business. He profiles sort of famous people in history and how they exemplified stoicism. And you think this is kind of a bit rich and it seems to be sort of stoicism is now understood as be tough or have true grit and buckle down. But of course, stoicism in the classical perspective was something else that there was truth, the world was composed of reason, there was natural law and you tried to situate yourself in accordance with it and not be overly worried about fortune or various calamities that might befall. You wanted to live in accordance with the reason of things.

Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn (17:45):

And I would just add fame, don’t be obsessed with fame and things because time passes and people forget, so don’t be just pursuing immediate sort of self glorification.

Richard Reinsch (17:59):

Yeah. You wouldn’t be a social media, an Instagram influencer. That might be hard if you were a serious stoic.

Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn (18:07):

Yeah. Or if you did, you were really practicing a different kind of craft, but maybe using that maybe input. One thing about the stoics that’s fascinating is that they have this view of time and space of the universe. And in modern forms, it’s often reduced to basically pretty much the AA mantra, which is about leaving aside things that you can’t change and only focusing on the things that you can change and far be it from me to criticize. I think that Alcoholics Anonymous has saved many a life and many a family, so all good. But when you go outside of that and see where it’s coming up and it’s really kind of scary because you can use stoicism getting rid of all of the bigger worldview to pretty nefarious ends as you just implied that you can let everything else fall away and just say, “Oh, it’s all about grit.” And oh, the way I interpret it because this is the therapeutic society and the individual reins supreme, I just choose to interpret it as being really mean to people or being aggressive or being violent. That’s not at all a stoic sense. And the stoics had a whole sort of cosmology. They tried to sync.

That’s what’s fascinating about these schools of thought is they thought not just sticking, just want a paired of down self help regime where give me five steps for how to live my life. They were really about understanding our life and ourselves, of understanding in light of the fact that we live in this infinite universe and we are just this speck, they would emphasize we’re just this tiny speck. Considering that we are and that our moment in life is so fleeting, then how should we live? And I’m not trying to say they’re all saints or anything. I’m just saying that if we look at their more complete worldview, it can’t be hijacked so easily by the modern therapeutic and the hyper-individualism that I’m worried about and it can present an alternative. One of the things that’s missing about the many modern forms is the focus on virtue and moral goodness, which was really at the heart of these schools of thought. And that’s unfortunately one of the elements that I don’t see as, and some of the new stoicism is fantastic. It’s great writing. It’s really reaching. It could affect your life for sure. There’s really good stuff. And then there’s others where it’s just really been hijacked by the therapeutic self help culture.

Richard Reinsch (21:07):

Something that occurred to me thinking about stoicism in the Roman Empire, at least what I’ve read, it doesn’t really penetrate beyond the aristocratic class. Have you thought about why that might be?

Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn (21:16):

But do we ever really know though about that because the sources are so slim and there was Epictetus who was a slave. He’s one of the maybe the most prominent stoic that we still know about now. I’m not sure. Well, maybe you know, you’ve read more about what we can know based on the limited sources to say, but I would never generalize about beyond, because what we have is the sources that we still have tend to be elite sources so it’s probably all we can really know about anyway, but that doesn’t mean other people didn’t have any forms of stoicism.

Richard Reinsch (22:03):

As I thought about it, I don’t know what that necessarily means, but I’ve wondered about that. Something I was thinking about in your book and the stoicism discussion one, stoicism to my knowledge is sort of the operating philosophy of the United States military. To the extent there’s a philosophical bedrock, given its stoicism. In fact, Donald Trump’s first Secretary of Defense, I think it’s apt to say is a stoic, certainly studied Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, we know, thoroughly. The way he talked about duty in particular to the country reminded me of a stoic talking and was thinking about those things. Also known for saying in any room he goes into, he has a plan for killing everyone in the room and getting out alive, which I thought was an interesting thing.

But there and then there’s also thinking about this aristocratic tradition, at least according to Walker Percy, the leadership class, both of the antebellum South and then the post Civil War South, at least until the early 20th century, was stoic. He said it wasn’t Christian so much. They had really one foot in church, but really they were more Cicero and they thought of their own obligations in life and their actions and things they did in stoic terms. And he talks about the men in his own family in that term and he thinks stoicism is so far so good. He doesn’t think it’s enough because a person he says, “It can’t really help you love.” Or doesn’t really call forth grade love, a great relational love. And he wonders about that.

But I was also going to mention that probably one of the most listened to podcast in America today is Jocko Willink’s podcast. And Jocko was the former trainer of Navy SEALs. He was a Navy SEAL for a number of years, served in the Iraq War and everything pulsating through this podcast is stoicism. And how not just to what he does, what podcast he does is he brings sort of lessons of leadership that he learned as a Navy SEAL and he has a consulting practice and he sort of helps other people with leadership through the things that he had learned as a SEAL but the way he’s described himself and the reasons he gives you for acting on your own are very stoic in nature. And it’s an endless push, I should say, but he’s also, I wouldn’t say cheapening stoicism as we were discussing, but is writing about sort of the full realm of how you should act in a range of different responsibilities and how you should treat other people and things like that. I was just going to mention that to you as something you might take a look at.

Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn (24:35):

Thank you.

Richard Reinsch (24:36):

One thing you write about Epicureanism, we can say that’s definitely been devalued in our time. But what about Epicureanism is good for thinking about now?

Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn (24:45):

Well, the early Epicureans were very different from some of the modern or current manifestations, which it’s true. The ancient Epicureans did think that pleasure was the ultimate point of life. That’s true, but in their version, it was very still grounded in a moral framework when they thought, what does pleasure mean? It is something that you get from your relations with other people and your relations with just basic activities in life. Things like eating were definitely sources of pleasure, but they were also in a particular setting among friends, among family members. There was still a sense of kind of moral community, a very strong sense of that. And there was also a sense of holding back on your appetites, which we would probably just automatically say, “Oh, that sounds more stoic.” And maybe there is a little bit of stoicism there, but it is very much an Epicurean value to hold back and to keep your wants more trimmed down so that you can satisfy them and so that you can keep pursuing pleasure throughout your life.

They had a very strong sense that you can’t just abandon yourself in every given moment to an unbridled pursuit of momentary titillation or gratification because then what’s going to happen is you’re going to have terrible results and the next day is not going to bring any pleasure whatsoever because you’re going to tear apart all of the good things in your life and pay huge consequences and then your life is not in any way, a pursuit of pleasure. They had a sense of perspective and proportion and the duration of a life. Yes, they were talking about the main thing is pursuing pleasure within one’s own lifetime, but it was not anything that would help with the modern consumerist.

Richard Reinsch (27:05):

Well, I suppose they would, just thinking about the meal and thinking about purpose. The meal itself, it wasn’t to gorge or if you enjoy the food, but I take it, there’s a range of experiences that that they’re concerned with.

Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn (27:20):

Yeah. Because if you gorge on things, that’s not going to lead to pleasure. It’s really an interesting way to think of things that I think is very helpful for us because we do live in this consumerist era. And so there are some movements that I think are kind of truer to ancient Epicureanism. When I was living in Rome, I had half a year as a Fulbright fellow and I knew someone who was interested in the slow food movement and she invited us to a several day conference on the slow food movement, which I didn’t really know about. And it was held at, it’s called Bra, Italy where that movement had its origins. And it was all about the gourmet emphasis of our time, where you care about the way you prepare food, but it was so embedded in a sense of again, kind of moral community where the reason why you pay all that attention to how you’re cooking is not just because you’re thinking about yourself and this is another part of my image or my identity or anything like that.

It’s more that we should because of morals, we should care about how we’re raising livestock, we should care about how we’re farming and so that there are a lot of movements like that, buy local movements, farm to table movements that emphasize kind of having a moral sense when you go about getting your food and preparing your food. But the slow food movement in Italy also emphasizes the pleasures of actually sitting down and then dining and consuming the food in a positive sense. It could have us reorient ourselves toward consumerism if we thought of consuming in that ancient Epicurean way, that it has has a place in the moral community and helps shore it up and gives us a sense collective purpose and just belonging. And a sense of enjoying each other’s company and such.

Richard Reinsch (29:49):

The pursuit of pleasure, as I’m thinking about the classical Epicurean pursues pleasure, but they’re not really pursuing pleasure per se. It’s pleasure of what comes out of virtuous actions.

Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn (30:00):

Yeah. That in itself is the source of pleasure. That’s how morals and pleasure are still united for them. Whereas for us, they tend to be separated because we just talking about the individual’s pursuit of pleasure and then that’s outside of a moral framework.

Richard Reinsch (30:19):

You talk at length in the chapter on Epicureanism about the novel film Eat, Pray, Love. Does this film exemplify Epicureanism? Or is this something else?

Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn (30:32):

I think it’s trying to. I think it instead is an instance of what I’m trying to warn of in the modern forms of these schools of thought that I’m really deeply, profoundly worried about where we are, what’s happening in our times. I think we’re in cultural crisis and we have been for some time and if we don’t find ways to renew our sense of sort of why we exist together, not just separately, but individually too, we’re just not going to be able to continue. I’m really worried about the state of things. And so when I see Eat, Pray, Love, I’m pretty excited because there is an unconscious reference to ancient Epicureanism. And even to some other traditions, there’s a lot of sort of spirituality in that film and things like that. But then ultimately it seems like it’s shoring up the ethos of our time.

Richard Reinsch (31:38):

Consumer therapeutic.

Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn (31:40):

Yeah, I think so. I don’t want to dismiss it all together. And all of the cultural forms that I analyzed in the book, I have at least some empathy for otherwise I wouldn’t spend so much time on it. I think they’re worth looking at, thinking about. And there’s something just so amazing about the Eat, Pray, Love phenomenon, because many times it’s mothers and daughters who went to see that film or it was sisters or it was friends and they really found a lot of meaning in it. And so I don’t just dismiss things and that people find meaning in. And I think sometimes they were finding meaning that probably came out of their own understanding of their embeddedness in moral communities and their relationships. And if that helped renew that, great. But I think ultimately I found that the message of that was pursue your own pleasure and at any cost. And the saddest part of that movie to me is this wonderful scene with her ex-husband, she’s divorcing him and he’s in the elevator and it’s one of those uncomfortable things where it happens to open and she’s standing there and they had both been to the lawyers about their divorce and he’s just crying. And it’s awful. It’s just chilling to the spine because she didn’t really have a distinct reason for leaving him. She wasn’t leaving him because he was cruel or violent or their life was just impossible to sustain. It was more of that sort of generalized discontent on her part that maybe there’s something more. And then you realize what the cost is when you look at him and he did not want to end the relationship. To me, that speaks volumes about what is wrong with the consumerist therapeutic, where people can just sort of become pawns that you cast aside when they’re not really helping you fulfill what you think is going to be therapeutic for the individual.

Richard Reinsch (33:56):

Okay. On to Platonism, which seems to be, as I read you, the school of thought you find most hopeful.

Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn (34:03):

I do.

Richard Reinsch (34:05):

And I would sum up your chapter on Platonism led by truth, inspired by beauty. That’s what it can give us.

Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn (34:11):


Richard Reinsch (34:12):

And we desperately need it. Could you talk about this chapter?

Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn (34:17):

Yes. I think this is the school of thought that is most rare today. And so what I want is to help join those other people who would like to bring the whole conversation back among these schools of thought because that’s partly what I think is interesting and important is not just saying, “Oh yeah, stoicism is the answer. Let’s forget about everything else.” And I think stoicism has a lot to offer, but it can also be, as I said, hijacked for use for just the individual, maybe even to shore up aggressive, violent urges. That’s not good. That’s a terrible combination of the stoic and the modern therapeutic consumerist culture that can be toxic. And there are toxic versions of the other schools of thought as well. But the Platonist one, I think that needs to be brought back into the conversation. Many of the other schools kind of had their origins in the Platonist perspective and they kept some of those elements, even if they went in a certain direction as in Epicureanism with the pursuit of pleasure, but there was still that moral sense. And that was largely, wasn’t originated in Platonism, but Plato was the composer of the symphonies on a whole symphony, philosophical symphony, his whole oeuvre was about moral goodness. And I think we need that part of all of those ancient schools to come back. But I think Platonism, if we could bring it back into the conversation, would help us think about all of our various struggles and difficulties in light of the overarching question of, well, what is good as in morally good in this case? It doesn’t seem like that’s the habit of mind that dominates today.

Richard Reinsch (36:15):

Well, I think we’re sort of like, what is truth? In a mocking sense, not in the Socratic sense of asking that question. We should bring Plato back into the conversation, what would that look like institutionally? Something that I thought as I was reading your chapter is the rise of these classical schools all across America. What I thought was interesting about that is a lot of these are very religious schools, Catholic schools, Protestant schools and so they actually want to return to the ancients, but through Christianity, did you think about that as you were writing your book?

Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn (36:44):

Oh, absolutely. And in the end of the book I come to Plotinus and Augustine. St. Augustine was so deeply influenced by Plato and Plotinus. He says that that was really what changed his trajectory was reading them and you can see it in his thought and it’s basically, you can’t, I don’t think completely appreciate Christianity without realizing the profound Platonism in it but also it has the other elements. It has the other schools of thought as well. Stoicism is very much in Christianity. These schools of thought aren’t in any way sort of opposed. And that would be something that would scare me if people, again, it’s that urge that we have probably to commodify and make simple and manageable and usable different philosophies. And so I think there would be some people who might think, oh, you can either recommend a religion or you can recommend a school of thought. And I think that the whole conversation is what we always need, because you could take Christian beliefs and practices and you could say, “Well, which here, do we see any stoic leanings? Do we see any Epicurean leanings?” And Platonist leanings are so important, because a lot of the modern practices of religion are basically one and the same with the consumer therapeutic. And so how would we sort of work against that and retrieve or invent what is best about religion in our lives? I think it’s being attuned to the Platonic elements would help a great deal.

Richard Reinsch (38:38):

Yeah, as I thought about your book too, just this idea of faith and reason working together, interacting and needing one another. And I think, probably one of the most dramatic papal statements was the Regensburg address in my mind, by a Pope in the 16th often misunderstood. In which he’s basically trying to recover a classical version of reason and saying that this has been debased by a modern positivist and utilitarian understanding of reason. And so we’re not even able to think about who we are anymore. And he tries to show ways in which this has devalued Western liberal democracies. I was reading your book, I just thought about that as well, that this sort of loss, and you’re talking about philosophy as a way of living and I’m maybe talking about how to think, but this overall loss of conception of our full intellectual tradition, something we definitely need to recover. Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn, thank you so much for coming on to discuss your book, Ars Vitae: The Fate of Inwardness and the Return of the Ancient Arts of Living.