Paul DeHart

The Problems with Jeffersonian Philosophy, Part III
By Paul DeHart on November 08, 2010

Jefferson’s suggestion about the combination of Epicureanism and Christianity is utterly implausible.  It is based upon a lack of awareness about the defects of egoistic ethics and a thoroughgoing misunderstanding of the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth concerning the essence of love.  The Epicurean pleasure principle is incapable of attaining tranquility.  Rather, it flounders on the shoals of the disintegrated and schizophrenic self.  And before Jefferson can even claim, with a straight face, that the teaching of Jesus should be wed to the ethics of Epicurus, he must reduce the moral horizon of the agape ethic by an almost infinite degree—reducing an ethic of self-sacrifice to one of benevolence.  The combination Jefferson suggests is so implausible, that one wonders how Jefferson could ever have advocated so preposterous an idea.     

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The Problems with Jeffersonian Philosophy, Part II
By Paul DeHart on September 30, 2010

Given Jefferson’s commendation of the work of David Hume on matters religious and the resemblance of Jefferson’s program for assessing the purportedly supernatural, I think we are safe to infer that the Jeffersonian program simply is the Humean program.  But this means that Jefferson’s procedure for deciding whether or not a miraculous event did in fact occur is fatally flawed.

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The Problems with Jeffersonian Philosophy, Part II
By Paul DeHart on September 16, 2010

Given Jefferson’s commendation of the work of David Hume on matters religious and the resemblance of Jefferson’s program for assessing the purportedly supernatural, I think we are safe to infer that the Jeffersonian program simply is the Humean program.  But this means that Jefferson’s procedure for deciding whether or not a miraculous event did in fact occur is fatally flawed.

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Authority, Social Contract Theory, and Christian Faith
By Paul DeHart on August 30, 2010

When you read a political theorist like Hobbes or like Filmer you find, the gaping canyon between them notwithstanding, a surprising agreement.  They both think the power of human sovereigns mirrors the sovereignty of God.  That is, they think divine authority and human authority are both species of the same thing—authority—which are considerably alike in nature.  Thus, one should take Hobbes seriously when he refers to the Leviathan as the mortal God.  The source of the power to bind for Hobbes’ immortal and mortal God is much the same—irresistible power.  But what the Christian knows by faith seems clearly to entail something quite the contrary—namely that divine and human authority aren’t much alike at all (perhaps not even analogically similar).

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The Poverty of Positivism
By Paul DeHart on January 04, 2010

I find it striking that, though logical and scientific positivism have now, as Al Plantinga says, been swept into the dustbin of history that practitioners of social sciences, sometimes historians, a good number of political theorists, and perhaps most legal and constitutional scholars continue to take it seriously. No self-respecting philosopher does. And for good reason—at best, there are no good reasons for being a positivist such that if one embraces positivism one must do it a priori. At worst, positivism is self-referentially incoherent.

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Death and Political Philosophy
By Paul DeHart on November 16, 2009

Political theory, faith, secularism. A potent concoction.

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Doing Political Philosophy after the Enlightenment's End
By Paul DeHart on July 07, 2009

I noted in an earlier post that the Enlightenment justified itself in light of a narrative demonstrably false at many crucial points. In a number of disciplines, the Enlightenment reached its culmination in logical and scientific positivism as well as in the fact-value dichotomy. The instrumentalization of reason was also a foundational program of the Enlightenment. These foundational programs of the Enlightenment have died. In particular, the empericist and positivistic claim that we can only predicate truth of that which is empirically verifiable is not itself empirically verifiable. But it was the requirement of empirical verifiability that moved theology out of the realm of "science" and that grounded the prohibition on invoking claims of faith when doing political philosophy or when assessing the truth of conclusions reached by political theorists, philosophers, and theologians from ages past.

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The Death of a Myth
By Paul DeHart on June 16, 2009

I've recently been reading David Bentley Hart monumental Atheist Delusions. The work is the sort of rare achievement that takes up residence in the mind after one has read the book. From the title of the work, one might deduce that Bentley's book is a critique of the at best third-rate works by Dawkins and Hitchens. But it is more. Bentley's accomplishment is the decimation of the Enlightenment Myth concerning the advent and development of Christianity, concerning faith and reason, and concerning the Enlightenment itself. It is an Enlightenment chauvinism (and a paradigmatic instance of chronological snobbery) that the "Enlightenment" was the age of reason--an age preceded by the dark age of faith.

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about the author

Paul DeHart
Paul DeHart

Dr. Paul R. DeHart is an assistant professor of political science at Texas State University--San Marcos.  He holds a Ph.D. in Government from the University of Texas at Austin.  

Prof. DeHart is author of Uncovering the Constitution's Moral Design, published by the University of Missouri Press in 2007, and of "The Dangerous Life: Natural Justice and the Rightful Subversion of the State," which appeared in the July 2006 edition of the journal Polity.  In the Summer of 2008, he was the recipient of an NEH Summer Stipend for work on his current book project, tentatively titled Covenantal Realism, which argues for the incoherence of conventional social contract theory on the one hand and, given human equality, the necessity of consent for the legitimacy of governmental authority, on the other hand.

Dr. DeHart lives in San Marcos, Texas with his beautiful wife Robyn, who is the award-winning author of 6 historical, romance novels--2 with Grand Central Publishing and 4 with Avon/HarperCollins.  Reviews of her work have appeared in such places as the Chicago Tribune.