I’ve just caught up with the sad news this morning of the passing of Peter Lawler of Berry College at the too-soon age of 65. Peter was one of the most interesting and original conservative voices in academia, and he is irreplaceable. There was no one who understood—and practiced—liberal arts education rightly understood better than Peter. Among other things, Peter has to be counted as one of the best interpreters of Tocqueville in our time. We very often argued, or at least had the kind of productive disagreement whereby we reached the same conclusion through disparate routes (such as, for example, thinking conservatives might be well advised to adopt an adversarial position toward the technocracy of Silicon Valley).
The last time I saw Peter in person was at a splendid conference with Sir Roger Scruton at Rhodes College in Memphis in the fall of 2015, and I followed his work as a matter of must-reading routine. I was thrilled when he was recently named the new editor of Modern Age, the journal of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. ISI described him thus at the time of his appointment:
Lawler is the author or editor of 18 books. A prolific writer, he blogs at National Review Online and contributes to the Weekly Standard, National Affairs, the New Atlantis, and other publications. Lawler served on President George W. Bush’s Council on Bioethics. He is executive editor of the acclaimed scholarly quarterly Perspectives on Political Science and in 2007 received the Weaver Prize for Scholarly Excellence.”
I had just yesterday bookmarked for reading this week his brand new essay marking the 30th anniversary of the publication of The Closing of the American Mind.