This volume in Religion and Public Life, a series on religion and public affairs, provides a wide-ranging forum for differing views on religious and ethical considerations. The contributions address the decline of social capital-those patterns of behavior which are conducive to self-governance and the spirit of self-reliance-and its relation to the demise of the civic-humanist tradition in American education. The unifying theme, is that classical studies do not merely result in individual mastery over a particular technique or body of knowledge, but also link the individual to the polity and even to the whole of the cosmic order. At the same time, American republicanism, in its exaltation of the common man from the Jeffersonian agrarian soldier to the apotheosis of Lincoln tempers the classical ideal into something less exalted, if more democratic. The effects on the contemporary state of the liberal arts curriculum are demonstrated in articles critical of the market-model university. Two essays explore the historical and philosophical significance of the discipline of rhetoric, that has suffered under the hegemony of rationalistic philosophy. A concluding contribution, invokes Giambattista Vico as an eloquent defender of the humanities. Humanities and Civic Life includes: "Rome, Florence, and Philadelphia: Using the History of the Humanities to Renew Our Civic Life" by Robert E. Proctor; "The Dark Fields of the Republic: The Persistence of Republican Thought in American History" by David Brown; "Unleashing the Humanities" by Robert Weisbuch; "Liberal Arts: Listening to Faculty" by Dennis O'Brien; "Historical Consciousness in Antiquity" by Paul Gottfried; "Taking the Measure of Relativism and the Civic Virtue of Rhetoric" by Gabriel R. Ricci; "The River: A Vichian Dialogue on Humanistic Education" by Randall E. Auxier.
Religion and Public Life promotes topical interdisciplinary research and discussion on wide-ranging ethical and philosophical issues at the intersection of religion and civil society. The series provides a platform for international scholarly discussion through the publication of thematic issues that cut across disciplines. Recent issues have addressed Politics in Theology, Faith, War and Violence, Faith in Science, and Justice and the Politics of Memory. A forthcoming issue, Natural Communions, addresses eco-spirituality and theological naturalism.