Publications from Zephyr Institute senior fellows and speakers
Evolution of Desire: A Life of René Girard (Michigan State University Press, 2018)
“René Girard (1923–2015) was one of the leading thinkers of our era—a provocative sage who bypassed prevailing orthodoxies to offer a bold, sweeping vision of human nature, human history, and human destiny. His oeuvre, offering a ‘mimetic theory’ of cultural origins and human behavior, inspired such writers as Milan Kundera and J. M. Coetzee, and earned him a place among the forty ‘immortals’ of the Académie Française. Too often, however, his work is considered only within various academic specializations. This first-ever biographical study takes a wider view. Cynthia L. Haven traces the evolution of Girard’s thought in parallel with his life and times. She recounts his formative years in France and his arrival in a country torn by racial division, and reveals his insights into the collective delusions of our technological world and the changing nature of warfare. Drawing on interviews with Girard and his colleagues, Evolution of Desire: A Life of René Girard provides an essential introduction to one of the twentieth century’s most controversial and original minds.”
“Following the religious turn in other disciplines, literary critics have emphasized how modernists like Woolf and Joyce were haunted by Christianity’s cultural traces despite their own lack of belief. In Poetry and Theology in the Modernist Period, Anthony Domestico takes a different tack, arguing that modern poets such as T. S. Eliot, W. H. Auden, and David Jones were interested not just in the aesthetic or social implications of religious experience but also in the philosophically rigorous, dogmatic vision put forward by contemporary theology.
These poets took seriously the truth claims of Christian theology: for them, religion involved intellectual and emotional assent, doctrinal articulation, and ritual practice. Domestico reveals how an important strand of modern poetry actually understood itself in and through the central theological questions of the modernist era: What is transcendence, and how can we think and write about it? What is the sacramental act, and how does its wedding of the immanent and the transcendent inform the poetic act? How can we relate kairos (holy time) to chronos (clock time)?
Seeking answers to these complex questions, Domestico examines both modernist institutions (the Criterion) and specific works of modern poetry (Eliot’s Four Quartets and Jones’s The Anathemata). The book also traces the contours of what it dubs ‘theological modernism’: a body of poetry that is both theological and modernist. In doing so, this book offers a new literary history of the modernist period, one that attends both to the material circulation of texts and to the broader intellectual currents of the time.”
Slavery and Sin: The Fight against Slavery and the Rise of Liberal Protestantism (Oxford University Press, 2011)
"Oshatz carries her study through the Civil War to reveal how emancipation confirmed for northern Protestants the notion that God revealed His will through history. She reveals how, after the war, a new generation of liberal theologians drew on this experience to respond to evolution and historical biblical criticism. Slavery and Sin provides critical insight into how the theological innovations rooted in the slavery debates came to fruition in liberal Protestantism's acceptance of the historical and evolutionary nature of religious truth."
Tanaka Kōtarō and World Law: Rethinking the Natural Law Outside the West (Palgrave Pivot, 2019)
"This book explores one of the 20th century’s most consequential global political thinkers and yet one of the most overlooked. Tanaka Kōtarō (1890-1974) was modern Japan’s pre-eminent legal scholar and jurist. Yet because most of his writing was in Japanese, he has been largely overlooked outside of Japan. His influence in Japan was extraordinary: the only Japanese to serve in all three branches of government, and the longest serving Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. His influence outside Japan also was extensive, from his informal diplomacy in Latin America in the prewar period to serving on the International Court of Justice in the 1960s. His stinging dissent on that court in the 1966 South-West Africa Case is often cited even today by international jurists working on human rights issues. Above and beyond these particular lines of influence, Tanaka outlined a unique critique of international law as inherently imperialistic and offered as its replacement a theory of World Law (aka “Global Law”) based on the Natural Law. What makes Tanaka’s position especially notable is that he defended the Natural Law not as a European but from his vantage point as a Japanese jurist, and he did so not from public law, but from his own expertise in private law. This work introduces Tanaka to a broader, English-reading public and hopes thereby to correct certain biases about the potential scope of ideas concerning human rights, universality of reason, law and ethics."
The Heroic Heart: Greatness Ancient and Modern (Encounter Books, 2015)
“Through its intimate portraits of historical and literary figures and its subtle depiction of the most difficult problems of politics, The Heroic Heart offers a startlingly original account of the passage from the ancient to the modern world and the part the heroic type has played in it. Lindberg deftly combines social criticism and moral philosophy in a work that ranks with such classics as Thomas Carlyle’s nineteenth-century On Heroes, Hero-Worship and the Heroic in History and Joseph Campbell’s twentieth-century The Hero with a Thousand Faces.”
Demopolis: Democracy Before Liberalism in Theory and Practice (Cambridge University Press, 2017)
“What did democracy mean before liberalism? What are the consequences for our lives today? Combining history with political theory, this book restores the core meaning of democracy as collective and limited self-government by citizens. That, rather than majority tyranny, is what democracy meant in ancient Athens, before liberalism. Participatory self-government is the basis of political practice in 'Demopolis', a hypothetical modern state powerfully imagined by award-winning historian and political scientist Josiah Ober. Demopolis' residents aim to establish a secure, prosperous, and non-tyrannical community, where citizens govern as a collective, both directly and through representatives, and willingly assume the costs of self-government because doing so benefits them, both as a group and individually. Basic democracy, as exemplified in real Athens and imagined Demopolis, can provide a stable foundation for a liberal state. It also offers a possible way forward for religious societies seeking a realistic alternative to autocracy.”
“In this speculative appropriation of Aquinas, Ferdinand Ulrich lays out a vision of being as an image of divine goodness, drawing out as-yet-undiscovered treasures from Aquinas's texts through a fundamental engagement with modern philosophy, above all Hegel and Heidegger . . . The first part of the book offers a fundamental metaphysics, expounding in detail the basic structure of being in the light of creation ex nihilo interpreted as an act of radical generosity. This discussion presents novel insights into traditional themes such as the real distinction between essence and existence, participation, causality, and the analogy of being; and it explores from the same perspective of radical generosity themes associated more with modern philosophy, such as the relationship between being and nothingness, the ontological difference, and being and time. The second part of the book is a speculative anthropology, which proposes to think through the constitution of the human being as a kind of dynamic exemplar of the meaning of being: man not only shows the meaning of being, but co-enacts it in his relation to himself, to the world, and to God.”
The True Purpose of Medicine: Advice for Medical Students
As you enter into the medical profession, I encourage you to “start with the end in mind” by studying the Hippocratic Oath. The oath articulates the true aim of medicine, guiding physicians to provide treatments that align with the purpose of medicine and so are right for a doctor to do, and to refuse to provide treatments that go against this purpose and are wrong for a doctor to do.
Society expects that physicians will be men and women of integrity. The article is an address given to the incoming medical students at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine White Coat Ceremony on August 3 by Aaron Kheriaty MD.
“Teleology and Transcendence: The Thought of Robert Spaemann” (Communio 45.3-4)
“It is only after the end of someone’s life that we can take a look at his life as a whole—Robert Spaemann did not think this possible during one’s lifetime. Nevertheless, even during one’s lifetime, every part of it is already informed by the viewpoint of an ungraspable whole into which it transcends itself. Now that Robert Spaemann’s life has come to an end, it can come into view as a whole, and we can try to identify some of the basic themes that unify its parts: ‘teleology’ and ‘transcendence’ offer themselves, and the critique of misguided attempts to replace them with a paradigm of self-preservation.”