Foolish Hearts
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Russell Kirk

How to Cite

Foolish Hearts: Russell Kirk and the Problem of Abstraction. (2021). The Political Science Reviewer, 45(2), 453-486.


A “canon” refers to a set of rules or principles that typically require assent or belief. Russell Kirk, in his landmark The Conservative Mind, used the idea of canons to identify five fundamental conservative beliefs. But a sixth canon, dealing with variety, he identified with affection and not with belief. An appreciation for variety implicated the conservative heart more than the conservative mind. We live in a world, Kirk believed, where the pressures of industrialization, democracy, mobility, and centralization leave our hearts disoriented and often lonely. A world dominated by abstractions pulls things apart, and the thing it pulls apart the most is the human heart. Kirk believed that human beings are creatures desperate to love, who need to attach their loves to the right things. Only rightly ordered love can solve the problems faced by modern selves.

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