Marriage, kids, reproduction, mothers—they show up everywhere, from state houses to the pages of Slate, and for good reason. They’re the building blocks of society, and indispensable features of normal human life. Yet for all the popular attention paid to these concepts, there’s a reciprocal partner to each that is usually and conspicuously overlooked. I’m speaking of fatherhood.
Here at Ethika Politika, we take seriously the role of fathers, and the significance of paternity. In fact, we believe it’s an essential component of the discussion surrounding everything from marriage rights to proper governance and the just distribution of goods. In a word, fatherhood is the epitome of masculinity: in its natural expression, it is an enduring act that’s oriented toward the common good; in supernatural versions, its aim is transformed into the summum bonum. In either case, the end of fatherhood is more than the efficient production of children; rather, it is an exemplification of the “good life,” and nothing less.
Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that fathers were an early casualty of the malaise that is part and parcel of modernity. Uniting first principles with good practical judgment requires far too much “reality” for most. Providing this as a ‘job description,’ moreover, seems downright silly. For many, fatherhood—mostly in the higher, essential sense, but now even in a base, material one—is an inaccessible concept, given by an outside tradition. To speak about it intelligibly, in a growing number of cases, means making increasingly hypothetical assumptions. A huge percentage of American homes are broken; by extension, the default view of fatherhood in our culture is broken, too.
To help fill these gaps, and to make possible a more serious, productive discussion of fatherhood, the Ethika Politika editorial board has organized a Father’s Day symposium. The event will run from Monday, June 10th until Friday, June 14th, and will feature a new article each day. After Father’s Day (June 16th), our contributing editors will weigh in with replies and reflections. Additionally, we will extend the symposium to outside authors, and will accept submissions on this topic, especially, throughout the summer.
The goal of our symposium is, of course, not to exhaust the topic of fatherhood. Rather, we aim to approach it from new and especially realistic points of view. Let it be known, however, that our realism is not a simple pragmatism, and that it demands (and will hopefully stretch the reader to recognize it as) much more.
In preparation for Monday, a short word of appreciation, first of all to our editorial board, and to those who will engage with us in the coming weeks: it’s through your efforts that Ethika Politika has and continues to become a place for reinvigorating the discussions so vital to pursuing human flourishing and the common good. Thank you for what you do—indeed, we look forward with great excitement to more of the same!
To those reading our pages for the first time, a hearty welcome to Ethika Politika! We hope this chapter is but the beginning of a longer story, which we desperately need your help to write.