A Disposition of Delight

My chum and the new president of the Michael Oakeshott Association, Elizabeth Corey, has just had this article published in First Things. Since this article is by subscription, I will only post a couple of extracts that caught my eye. Elizabeth is an excellent scholar whose chapter entitled “The Religious Sensibility of Michael Oakeshott” will be appearing in Paul and my edited book A Companion to Michael Oakeshott – see here for the table of contents. Anyway, here are the two extracts from Elizabeth’s article:

This disposition of delight can be detected throughout Oakeshott’s corpus—in his notion of the poetic character of experience, his love of conversation, his fondness for all activities that might he pursued as ends in themselves: friendship, liberal learning, poetry, and fishing, among many others.

Oakeshott’s insight into the conservative disposition is actually quite simple. It is that in responding to the excesses of contemporary liberalism and progressivism, as well as to Rationalism when it appears among conservatives, we ought not to compete on Rationalist terms, as if yet another mission statement or manifesto or policy could save us. The work of conservatives is above all to identify, preserve, and enjoy, and in doing so rejuvenate, those good traditions and institutions that remain, especially those activities that may appear pointless and wasteful from the perspective of those who want only to maximize utility: the life-giving activities and pleasures of poetry, liberal learning, conversation, friendship, and love.