This 1957 masterpiece can help beleaguered conservative and pro-life people in 2023 understand how leftists (either ignorant of or deliberately opposed to basic philosophy) attempt to destroy contemporary society.
I found so much of this work significant that I have annotated (either by underlining, adding parallel lines in the margins, or drawing stars of David) virtually all pages, so repeating those annotations here would be repetitious to the extreme. However, the few comments which follow may be of particular interest to conservatives and pro-life activists concerned about, among other topics, the delusions of gender activists and anti-life/pro-abortion ideas.
For example, I think everyone has read about or seen on social media the lunacy of gender activists who claim that a man can become a woman merely by (poof!) claiming to be one. The mental illness of transgender activists doesn’t stand a chance when confronted with biological reality, a foundation principle of Western philosophy.
Sullivan’s comments throughout the book about reality being the basis of philosophical speculation should therefore encourage those who argue rightfully that there are two genders and that no cacophonous rage shouting by a transgender person that he is female can overcome reality.
In short, dealt with it, buddy. You have a penis and a scrotum containing two testes. Enjoy being a man.
Similarly, abortion wrongs activists have argued that the unborn child is not a person (which is, apparently, a legal term more than a philosophical one). In philosophical terms, this is comparable to saying that the unborn child is not a being in his or her own right. This rejection of science is necessary if abortion zealots want to force all of us to accept their anti-human philosophy.
Again, Sullivan’s comments about being, which are passim, can help pro-life persons counter those deluded souls who think that human life doesn’t begin with the reality of fertilization. Personhood, existence, or being isn’t granted to someone just because (poof!) his or her mother thinks so. The right to life, the right to exist, is an essential, inherent aspect of our humanity.
In short (yes, I know: the second one in this review), pro-abortion zealots should therefore shut up already and accept the reality that a pregnant woman carries another human being and that both mother and unborn child deserve our love and protection.
Reading Sullivan’s work can be disturbing for many. For example, Protestant Christians may ineluctably conclude that their denomination’s “Reformation” wasn’t that as much as a divorce from a coherent philosophy begun in the ancient pagan world through solid logical reasoning and refined by Western (Catholic) Christian saints for 1,500 years. The subjectivism of the Protestant mindset would lead to the nihilism of today, and all of us suffer from that five-hundred year rupture from reality and sound logical thinking.
Likewise, a second major disturbing result of Sullivan’s work is that many would reject philosophical study because it is infused with ideas and terms developed by the Roman Catholic Church. American Catholics know well that anti-Catholicism is a vibrant force, not only in the area of respect for life, but in virtually all of society. Therefore, the reader may despair that many in contemporary culture could remain ignorant of the structure and depth of philosophical principles simply because such profundity is rejected by their anti-Catholic bigotry.
Fortunately, though, there is hope that conservative young people will not only resurrect the sound philosophical conclusions reached by scholars like Sullivan, but also live their lives according to those principles. Two instances can justify this hope.
Philosophical proofs for the existence of God? St. Thomas Aquinas makes as much sense in the twenty-first century as he did in the thirteenth.
Can the old-fashioned virtues of prudence, temperance, fortitude, and justice still apply in this utterly technological twenty-first century? Stifled by sexual immorality; families consisting not of mothers and fathers but a mother and various baby daddies; and politicians like the fake Catholic Joe Biden supporting abortion, which harms women, kills unborn babies, and alienates fathers: all of these social realities testify to the relevance of these, not so much old-fashioned, but ancient virtues which have guided human beings in prehistoric cultures to our own.
Though brief for an introduction to a major field of study (280 pages of text, followed by extensive reading lists and an index), Sullivan’s work takes time to read, digest, and understand, so prepare at least a month for delving into his summary of 2,500 years of Western philosophy.
The presence of an index is a major benefit. As many TAN Books customers know, works published by that firm often do not have indices, making it extremely difficult for students and faculty to conduct research without wasting time flipping through pages, hunting for a term or name.
Finally, since Amazon collaborates with cancel culture zealots and bans conservative and pro-life material, purchase this book from TAN Publishers directly: https://tanbooks.com/products/books/liberal-arts/philosophy/an-introduction-to-philosophy-perennial-principles-of-the-classical-realist-tradition/.