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The Solid Ground of Mere Civility: A Conversation with Teresa Bejan

with Teresa M. Bejan

Teresa Bejan joins this edition of Liberty Law Talk to discuss her book Mere Civility and why Roger Williams is an exemplar of how to disagree well.

Reader Discussion

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on April 17, 2018 at 20:55:27 pm

The important subjects of this podcast, civil discourse in a fractious society as uniquely addressed by one of America' great founders, Roger Williams, and by Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, the excellent book which addresses those subjects, "Mere Civility," and the intelligent author of that book, Teresa Bejan, all merit thorough, elucidating, literate treatment.

The curious interviewer whose goal is to enlighten his listeners as to a work of intellectual history and its author need not demonstrate the interviewer's special knowledge, intersperse his interview with mini- lectures on the topic or quibble with the author. All one need do is BE EMPERICAL: first ORGANIZE and then ASK the author 1) to state her principal thesis, 2) to summarize the essential elements of that thesis, 3) to describe how that thesis and those essential points are topical or relevant to a contemporary matter of concern and 4) to summarize how hers differ from the conclusions of other scholars.

In effect, one should strive in his interviewing of an author or scholar to emulate Brian Lamb (of CSPAN) and John Miller (on Hillsdale College's lectures or on National Review's "The Great Books" podcasts.)

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timothy
on April 18, 2018 at 08:01:20 am

Actually, the goal of the podcasts on this site is to have a conversation and friendly debate with writers and thinkers. Sometimes I disagree with them, but I always give them a generous amount of time to answer my questions and objections. If you don't like my style, then this may not be your podcast.

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Richard M. Reinsch II
on April 18, 2018 at 10:12:22 am

I, too, thought that Reinsch and Bejan never did get around to telling us exactly what "mere civility" meant in the context of Williams, Hobbes and Locke. I assumed civility was approximately the same as latitudinarianism.

If civility in the context of the mid-17th C. religious fervor is latitudinarianism then Williams' position was the common position amongst the Independents. John Robinson, the Pilgrims' pastor in Leyden, made it the core of his farewell sermon to the Bradford party in 1619. The Levellers adopted the position in 1644 (Williams probably consulted with Walwyn and Lilburne on the point in that year) and Cromwell made latitudinarianism the rule in the New Model Army when it was formed in 1645. It was also the official position of Commonwealth and Protectorate between 1650-60.

Because the King of England was also the head of the established CoE, constitutional monarchists tended to be non-latitudinarian. The Presbyterian faction in Parliament were uniformly hostile to latitudinarianism.

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EK
on May 06, 2018 at 08:55:30 am

Mere civility, like mere Christianity, becomes an empty shell when devoid of authentic Love. "With Love, Comes Responsibility", and thus a civil tone used to condone behavior that is not respectful of the inherent Dignity of the the human person as a beloved son or daughter, is merely a charade, a false ecumenism, that in essence, lacks civility.

"He said, everybody ought to learn how to sit down and hate each other with good Christian fellowship." A Raisin In The Sun.

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Nancy D.
Trackbacks
on October 21, 2020 at 07:33:12 am

[…] tolerance and civility may have shared origins, as Teresa Bejan in her Mere Civility claims, I think today they are distinct from one another. Because tolerance is premised on the […]

on October 21, 2020 at 12:11:26 pm

[…] tolerance and civility might have shared origins, as Teresa Bejan in her Mere Civility claims, I feel at the moment they’re distinct from each other. Because tolerance is premised […]

Law & Liberty welcomes civil and lively discussion of its articles. Abusive comments will not be tolerated. We reserve the right to delete comments - or ban users - without notification or explanation.