October 26, 2010


Brinkley, Alan, The Publisher: Henry Luce and His American Century (New York: Knopf, 2010) ("Throughout the 1950s, and indeed throughout the remainder of his life, Luce developed a strong and growing commitment to what he like to call 'the rule of law.' . . . " "Among the first visible clues to Luce's controversial view of the law was a speech he gave at a convocation at Southern Methodist University in Dallas in 1951 to mark the opening of a new legal center. . . . To prepare for the speech he browsed through some legal journals in search of inspiration, and he came across an article by a legal scholar, Harold MacKinnon. It attacked the jurisprudence of one of the giants of American law, Oliver Wendell Holmes, who had sat on the U.S. Supreme Court from 1902 t0 1932. . . . " "The problem with Homes, Luce believed, was exactly what Holmes's admirers most valued: his unromantic pragmatism, his brusque rejection of fixed belief. To Luce, Holmes's legal philosophy was 'agnostic, materialistic.' What had Holmes believed? 'He believed, mostly importantly, that there is no ultimate truth anywhere to be believed in.' Luce, on the other hand, believed that the law--and most other areas of human existence--had no meaning without being rooted in some kind of universal truth. For Luce that truth was 'natural law,' and that belief that 'we live in a moral universe,' and that the law must 'conform to a moral order which is universal in time and space.' Without the 'immutability and unity of truth,' not only the law but all of society would be rudderless, would 'stand for nothing,' To Luce, although not to all critics of pragmatism, the only real alternative to materialism was faith. 'Freedom is real because man is created by God in the 'image' of God. Man carries within him something that the merely animal does not have, the divine spark.' And so when Luce talked of the 'rule of law,' he was not simply taking about statutes and precedents. He was evoking the long history of belief in God's active presence in the world, and the existence of a universal set of truths derived from that presence." Id. at 379-380. If there is a god, he has not shown himself to be particular interested in the affairs of mankind. And it is the height of human arrogance to think that mankind is created in a god's image. Personally, I am inclined to believe that the gods are sitting around placing wager on how long it will take mankind to destroy itself.).