My Man Crush On John Adams





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Published on Apr 24, 2009

The vid answers questions related to why John Adams is one of my five favorite philosophers.

** Draft Script **

On one of those social networking sites, I answered a question about my five favorite philosophers. Note, that I emphasize MY FAVORITE. I was surprised when I was challenged on one of my selections, so this vid is to address that issue because my explanation will be on the long side.

Anyways, my fav five were: Ayn Rand for Objectivism, Leonard Peikoff for his DIM Hypothesis and work on induction, Aristotle for his focus on reality in epistemology and politics, Machiavelli for freeing politics from Christian irrationality by restoring its foundation in reality and his advocacy of republicanism (that is with a lower case r), and John Adams for his work on constitutional government. My reasons were not expressed in my answer there, but I added it here to clarify.

While I thought that Machiavelli would be my controversial choice, I was surprise when I received two friendly challenges on my selection of Adams.
Commentator GS asked, I really don't at all understand the intense Objectivist admiration of John Adams. I admit that I am not well-informed enough to comment on his standing among the founding fathers, but including him as one of the greatest philosophers ever seems more than a bit excessive.

First, the listing is not the greatest philosophers but my favorites. Based upon my education, interests, and perhaps the coincidental geography of living in a company town, my favorite philosophers tended towards the political; hence, I included Machiavelli and Adams. In that context, one might ask why I prefer Adams over John Locke or Thomas Jefferson or Montesquieu. Briefly, for political questions that I am studying, Adams theories are more relevant to these contemporary issues.

Second, why are Objectivists so favorable towards Adams? I do not know that is true. Speaking for me, my favorable opinion of Adams comes from reading C. Bradley Thompsons _John Adams and the Spirit of Liberty_, especially its extensive review of and quoting from Adams _A Defense of the Constitution of Government of the United States of America_.

Commentator BP had three points: (1) agreement with GS, (2) Adams defended Christianity against Thomas Paine, and (3) that the vile (my adjective) Ten Commandments and Sermon on the Mount were described by Adams as the basis for his religion.

On Adams v. Paine regarding the subject of Christianity, BP quoted Adams as saying, The Christian religion is, above all the religions that ever prevailed or existed in ancient or modern times, the religion of wisdom, virtue, equity and humanity, let the Blackguard Paine say what he will. So my question is what religion is better, as in what religion is the best of the really bad thinking that characterizes all religions?

Personally, I am much more interested in Jeffersons observation that Paines _Rights of Man_ was a refutation of Adams constitutional writing. In my opinion, history through the Reign of Terror and the establishment of the Napoleonic Empire demonstrate that the Francophiles like Paine and Jefferson were grossly mistaken in their assessments of Adams constitutional writing.

On the foundations of Adams religion, is there is Christian for whom the Ten Commandments and Sermon on the Mount are not central to their religion? Would BP apply the same standard as a disqualifier to Aquinas and every other philosophic thinker that was also Christian?

The previously referred to book by Thompson includes an insightful review of Adams views on religion based upon his personal journals, associations with free thinkers, and family relations. I found that this deep and detailed background of Adams provided a much more interesting assessment than popular stereotypes of New England Puritanism.

Finally, let me make an affirmative statement of why I included John Adams as one of my favorite philosophers. Adams is the American Solon, the law giver. Amongst the Founders, he was the leading constitutional thinker and architect of the model used throughout the newly independent states. As a diplomat, he led the advocacy of American style republican government in a changing Europe. Unlike idealists who pulled constitutional forms out of their fantasies, Adams based his ideas upon a comprehensive review of historical facts, which he integrated into principles. Thompson credits Adams as the first to integrate the classical models with modern theories of separation of powers, which we take for granted today. If you are a fan of American constitutional government, then you have Adams to thank for that intellectual achievement.

In closing, in the comments below, please report YOUR five favorite philosophers? Best premises to all, and to all a good night.


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