Aeschliman on Silber

Silber’s lifelong meditation on the strengths and limits of Kant’s ethics was like Jacob wrestling with the angel. A Germanophile, Silber was haunted by the fact that the noble Germanic philosophical tradition best represented by Kant had not been able to do more to prevent luciferian National Socialism: He thought this revealed an inadequacy in Kant’s thinking and, like C. S. Lewis, proposed the Christian Milton’s depiction of Satan in Paradise Lost as an ultimately more accurate reading of diabolical evil. Yet Kant had also said that “from the crooked timber of humanity no straight thing can be made,” a paraphrase of the Christian doctrine of original sin. Silber never himself indulged in the flattery of human nature, but never turned pessimistic or cynical either.

— From Prof. Michael Aeschliman’s eulogy for Dr. John Silber, as appears in National Review. Dr. Silber, longtime president and thereafter chancellor of Boston University, passed away on September 25th.


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