by Amna El Tawil
President-elect has Scottish roots. He also likes the country itself, especially the golf courses. But, it appears that Donald Trump also appreciates Scottish philosophy as well. Ever since he won the election, Mr. Trump was busy with appointments for his new administration. People he chose for different positions might seem odd to most people, that’s why they constantly discuss those picks in the media. However, those picks aren’t so extraordinary when you look at the philosophy behind them.
The philosopher who, probably, inspired Donald Trump and his choices for cabinet positions is Thomas Carlyle. A brief biography of this philosopher on the Victorian Web states: “Thomas Carlyle, Scottish historian, critic, and sociological writer. Was born in the village of Ecclefechan, Dumfriesshire, eldest child of James Carlyle, stonemason, and Margaret (Aitken) Carlyle….In literature, he was the pioneer who explored and made known the work of modern Germany. His literary judgments were penetrating, and (when he had a congenial subject) just; and on men like Voltaire, Burns, and Johnson he gave verdicts that approached finality. As a historian, he is in the highest rank. Barring certain unimportant errors of detail, he illumined the past with astonishing insight and made his personages actual and his scenes dramatic. His style is an extraordinary farrago, leaping not flowing, coining strange words and performing extravagant evolutions; yet cumulatively it impresses as a great style, suffused with humor, irony, and passion; impossible to imitate, utterly personal, burning, and convincing.”
In the 19th century, Thomas Carlyle developed a theory of historiography, which he coined “The Great Man Theory”. The theory postulated that the process of historical examination resembles a series of chronological biographies of “Great Men”. Carlyle believed that the history can be largely explained by the impact of these “great men” or heroes. They are highly influential individuals who due to their charisma, wisdom, intelligence, or political skills utilize their power in a manner that has a significant historical impact.
In his book On Heroes, Hero-Worship and the Heroic in History, Carlyle set out how he saw history as having turned on the decisions of “heroes”, giving a detailed analysis of the influence of several such men (including Muhammad, Shakespeare, Luther, Rousseau, Pericles, Napoleon, and Wagner). The philosopher felt that the study of great men was “profitable” to one’s own heroic side; that by examining the lives led by such heroes, one could not help but uncover something about one’s true nature. All these men weren’t products of their time, but the producers themselves.
Let’s fast forward to the modern era, we’re witnessing the outcries of mainstream media which constantly complain about Trump and the “unprecedented” measures taken by him. By his very nature and zero experience in elected office, Donald Trump is an unprecedented character for the presidency. But, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
The Washington Examiner writes: “Instead of appointing primarily a series of well-connected lawyers and bureaucrats who have been born and bred within the rent-seeking echo chambers of Washington, he has opted instead to fill a growing number of positions with Middle America’s private sector entrepreneurs and military generals. Carlyle would have described them as “Great Men,” from the Marcus Aurelius-loving General James Mattis to self-made millionaire and CEO Andrew Puzder.”
by Amna El Tawil