January 5, 2017 Matthew

Manliness by Harvey C. Mansfield ★★★★

A revered book among secular conservatives in the new millennium, Mansfield’s book is a defense of manhood.

Somehow, in so many successful books on manhood, Alexis de Tocqueville gets quoted a lot. This book is no exception. Tocqueville’s work is a milestone in American History. You can’t understand American history without reading Tocqueville.

At any rate, Mansfield takes a moderate stance saying that “manhood is fifty percent good and fifty percent bad” and that “it takes manhood to correct the trouble that it causes.” Like a lot of rational books on manhood it cuts just short of venturing into the realm of good and evil. We don’t like that manhood should be bad in any percentage. How is a man to walk through life if he is half bad and half good? Like a bi-polar or schizo? Sounds too stressful to me. Instead, we take it a bit further and say that manhood is an object of God’s design and even personal character and therefore all good. When manhood causes trouble in the world it is not manhood that is the culprit but sin. Sin leads the man to use his manhood powers for evil and not good. While God and his redemptive power leads a man to use his manhood powers for good and not evil. God makes first mention of sin to a man, Cain:

“If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.” Gen. 4:7

It’s desire is to get you to do what you’re not made to do.

This book nonetheless is rational and reasonable, and well referenced with a great bibliography that takes the reader back to Plato and Aristotle (also frequently quoted individuals in successful books on manhood).

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