Thursday, April 21, 2005

The Postmodern President: John Adams

Yesterday morning I completed David McCullough's wonderful John Adams. I was reminded of the incredible fact that just before Adams died on on 4 July 1826 - the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence - he said, "Thomas Jefferson survives." And then ab 6:20 PM, Adams passed. But he had been wrong. Jefferson had died about 1 PM the same day. The non-historical appellation of "Postmodern President" came to me after reading McCullough's words:

The philosophy that with sufficient knoweldge all could be explained held no appeal. All could not be explained, Adams had come to understand. Mystery was essential. "Admire and adore the Author of the telescopic universe, love and esteem the work, do all in your power to lessen ill, and increase good, but never assume to comprehend" (pp. 629,630).

Reading this reminded me of earlier comments - "Looking Beyond the Facade of Modernity" - I've made about how we need to be careful not to truncate any individual or age down to a two-dimensional understanding of their philosophy.

1 comment:

Matt said...

Stephen, it feels good to finish a book. Some time ago I told myself I would *finish* my books and not dabble in them. I am still working on that, though I am getting better.

Hey, let's get together for breakfast before too long. What say? Are Saturdays still good.

Matt O