Southern Philosophy


Happy Birthday, Thomas Jefferson!

At the request of friend John Spear Smith (1785–1866, figure below), who named a newborn child after him, Thomas Jefferson, in a letter (21 Feb. 1825) that he pens some one and one-half years prior to his death, offers philosophical advice to the newborn child, Thomas Jefferson Smith. The missive takes the form of an epistolary trilogy: an advisory letter,…
M. Andrew Holowchak
April 12, 2024

Recognising the Southern Tradition

A review of Writing on the Southern Front: Authentic Conservatism for Our Times (Routledge, 2017), by Joseph Scotchie. Joseph Scotchie’s knowledge of Southern thought in the 20th century and beyond is both encyclopedic and insightful--a rare combination. He surveys a body of Southern writing that is a major unrecognised achievement of American culture. This collection of reviews, articles, and talks…
Clyde Wilson
June 7, 2023

Thomas Jefferson and the Proper End of a Good Life

After giving a talk on Jefferson's conceptions of reason and the moral sense at UVa (11 Apr. 2015), a gentleman brought up the issue of slavery and mentioned how he found unpalatable Jefferson’s repeated claim, especially later in life, that he refused to do more to eliminate the heinous institution because the time was not yet right. The gentleman, of…
M. Andrew Holowchak
January 2, 2023

Jefferson’s “Textured Republicanism”

Both parties, says Jefferson to Abigail Adams (11 Sept. 1804), agree that the proper object of governing is the public good, yet they disagree concerning how it is best to promote that good. One fears most the ignorance of the people; the other, the selfishness of rulers independent of them. Which is right, time and experience will prove. We think…
M. Andrew Holowchak
December 13, 2022

What’s in a (Generational) Name?

The whole 20th century was a horrible time for the friends of tradition:  the mild rule of Europe’s Christian monarchs - Habsburgs, Romanovs, and others - was replaced by the ruthless Communists and later the despotism of the European Union, amongst other totalitarian ‘isms’; Mao overthrew Confucius in China; the natural rhythms of the agrarian life in many places of…
Walt Garlington
September 28, 2018
Review Posts

The Conversation Club of Charleston

This essay was presented at the 2016 Abbeville Institute Summer School.   When I was young I used to read a lot of books about archaeology—the study of ancient lost worlds and civilizations. I never got to study archaeology, but I became an archivist, and I suppose my job is a little like field archaeology—except that I work indoors, in air-conditioned…
Karen Stokes
December 21, 2016

Lest We Forget Southern History

This year, 2015, marks the sesquicentennial of the end of a four-year war between American Southern States and Northern States that supported an aggressive federal government Southerners could not abide. In addition to the appalling loss of lives; thousands of severely wounded men; and war against civilians with massive destruction and theft of their property, this holocaust was unnecessary and…
R.E. Smith, Jr.
March 27, 2015

How ‘bout a Little Bourbon with Your Philosophy?

What exactly makes the South, the South? Hosts of scholars have puzzled mightily over this one. Historians might point to the old Confederacy, human geographers might look for the proliferation of Southern Baptist Churches, as well as clusters and distributions of BBQ joints and firearms ownership, while linguists ponder over the prevalence of “y’all” and other Southern speech patterns. The…
John Devanny
February 26, 2015