148: First Principles by Donald Foy

by Gerard


148: Foy, Donald. First Principles: A Return to Humanity’s Shared Traditions. New York: Algora Publishing, 2004. 153 pp. ISBN 0-87586-259-4.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 100: Philosophy and Psychology
  • 140: Specific philosophical schools and viewpoints
  • 148: Dogmatism, eclecticism, liberalism, syncretism, and traditionalism

I honestly have no idea where to start with this one. Perhaps, just simply this: Don Foy’s The First Principles is a philosophical and moral look at both traditionalism and liberalism. It would be a simple book if that’s all it was. But Foy decides to ride the train way off the rails and take the reader into a thicket of personal animosity towards the state of many current institutions. He bases his invectives on C.S. Lewis’s List of First Principles, sprinkles in a little turn-of-the-century heathen-bashing from G.K. Chesterton, and runs amok all over aspects of the postmodern world. Sounds like fun, right?

First off, here are the First Principles:

  • Obey the spirit of Truth
  • Do good and be helpful to others
  • Provide for and cherish parents, elders, and ancestors
  • Provide for and children and their posterity
  • Take special care of family and friends
  • Be just and trustworthy in private and public life
  • Be brave for the Good
  • Restrain appetites and desires for the sake of the Good

But the wheels fall off the wagon very early in this one. He believes that the current tenets of Big Business and free market enterprise are unjust and untrustworthy when their decisions cause cities to lose their employment base. He argues that same-sex marriage corrupts the idea of a family by not allowing for the mother/child and mother/father bonding apparently required to raise proper humans (this constitutes not taking special care of family). I guess one of the good things I can say about this book is that Foy splits his tirades among both the Left and the Right. He makes them two sides of the same progressive coin, then melts down the coin, and pours it down the philosophical drain.

Foy’s basic message that we need to get away from some of the slippery slopes that he feels we’re on and get back to traditional value systems and community structures. This would be a valid opinion to write book on if he weren’t so curmudgeonly about the whole thing. Not only does he rail against the social ills of greed and expanded marriage rights, he also doesn’t like the prevalence of divorce, new education programs, and personal choice. The whole thing just seems like the boisterous, innocuous rambling of an old man trying desperately to be heard. The First Principles (which aren’t fully revealed until you get 90% through the book) are for the most part altruistic and morally praiseworthy. It’s just Foy’s interpretation that makes things heady and combative. I don’t recommend this one unless your looking to raise your blood pressure.