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Michael Novak

Catholic theologian and philosopher, George Frederick Jewett Scholar in Religion and Public Policy at the American Enterprise Institute, winner of the 1994 Templeton Prize, author of The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism and Belief and Unbelief

Books by Michael Novak
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Business as a Calling: Work & the Examined Life (1996)
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Confession of a Catholic (1986)
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The Experience of Nothingness
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Honesty on questions of race is rare in the United States. So many and unrecognized have been the injustices committed against blacks that no one wishes to be unkind, or subject himself to intimidating charges. Hence, even simple truths are commonly evaded.

Sep. 1975 - from his review of Race and Economics, by Thomas Sowell, review published by the New York Times
Our political intuitions work remarkably well. They are designed to clang against each other. The noise is democracy at work.

On at least three matters - IQ, heritability, and human nature - the rules we have lived under for some decades now are evasion, euphemism, and taboo. [Today's] earthquake has been caused by the simultaneous violation of all three. The problem is especially acute for liberals who have invested virtually their entire substance in three unusual beliefs: that almost everything important about human beings originates in the environment; that environmental factors may be manipulated at will by an intelligent and highly moral elite (composed of themselves); and that the ideal condition of human life would be a certain uniformity, which they call (equivocally) 'equality.' By the latter term, they do not mean equality under the law, or even equality of opportunity, but an administered equality of result. ... The most significant Herrnstein-Murray thesis [in The Bell Curve] is that the physical isolation and intellectual hubris of [America's cognitive elite] are distorting its vision, leading it into utopianism, and enfolding it in a world of unreality. This is the fundamental reason for the pessimism that Herrnstein and Murray reluctantly voice.

1994 - from his essay "Sins of the Cognitive Elite", published in National Review
Capitalism is ... a social order favorable to alertness, inventiveness, discovery, and creativity. This means a social order based upon education, research, the freedom to create, and the right to enjoy the fruit's of one's own creativity.

from "Errand into the Wilderness
The reason behind these checks and balances is a classical Christian and Jewish observation: Every human sometimes sins.

1993 - from The Catholic Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism
In the nature of the case, conservatives are diverse and hard to unite. It is good that they should be so. On the other hand, under threat as they are from those who love to use the power of the state to coerce them -- even in the smallest details of their lives, from their smoking habits to their seat belts -- conservatives must also be open to one another, cooperative, and alert to moves or utterances that are unnecessarily divisive. They need to know how to unite, as they often have done in the past.

Feb. 1997 - from "On the Future of Conservatism", a symposium organized by Commentary Magazine
Where self-government is not possible in personal life, it remains to be seen whether it is possible in the republic. Every prognosis based on history would suggest that lack of self-government in the individual citizenry will lead to lack of restraint in the government of the republic.... Personal prodigality will be paralleled by public prodigality. As individuals live beyond their means, so will the state. As individuals liberate themselves from costs, responsibilities, and a prudent concern for the future, so will their political leaders. When self-government is no longer an ideal for individuals, it cannot be credible for the republic.

from The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism
... capitalism better helps the poor to escape from poverty than any other system, especially better than socialism. ... Capitalism rewards effort, talent, inventiveness, and luck [but not] equal outcomes, because ... equality can be achieved only by abandoning liberty for tyranny.