This volume in Religion and Public Life, a series on religion and public affairs, provides a wide-ranging forum for differing views on religious and ethical considerations. The contributions address the decline of social capital - those patterns of behavior which are conducive to self-governance and the spirit of self-reliance - and its relation to the demise of the civic-humanist tradition in American education. The unifying theme, is that classical studies do not merely result in individual mastery over a particular technique or body of knowledge, but also link the individual to the polity and even to the whole of the cosmic order. At the same time, American republicanism, in its exaltation of the common man from the Jeffersonian agrarian soldier to the apotheosis of Lincoln tempers the classical ideal into something less exalted, if more democratic.
Gabriel Ricci is associate professor in the department of philosophy at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania. Paul Gottfried is professor of political science at Elizabethtown College. He is the author of The Search for Historical Meaning and The Conservative Millenarians.
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