To Wash Your Soul
April 11, 2017 6:06 PM Subscribe
In 1963, long after being President of the United States, Herbert Hoover published a short collection of meditations on the act of fishing. Justin Smith traces the growth of Hoover's philosophical leanings.
He is also, perhaps, the last American president to embody, if mostly unconsciously, a connection to the two strands of philosophy we have identified, the one that accumulates knowledge as a means to power, and the other that cultivates virtue as equivalent to happiness. In him, they come together, while today, in the absence of any connection whatsoever between philosophy and the practice of politics, they appear opposed. Power tolerates happiness, until it gets in the way; and happiness ignores power, as long as it can. And American presidents come and go, each generally more violent than the last, and each generally more forgetful than the last of what “virtue” had once meant.
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