This book seems really dated at this point, but its still a good resource for teachers insofar as it presents some of the relevant primary source mateThis book seems really dated at this point, but its still a good resource for teachers insofar as it presents some of the relevant primary source material and some important early essays in this debate. I would not recommend purchasing the book for a course but there is some stuff that can be be culled from this and presented in current class discussion (or that might serve as useful background reading for professors)....more
This book deals with the philosophical, social, and ethical issues that arise with the advent of genetic knowledge and technology. It would be a greatThis book deals with the philosophical, social, and ethical issues that arise with the advent of genetic knowledge and technology. It would be a great book for an introductory course dealing with these issues, because it is remarkably easy to read and follow. ...more
Glover wants to understand why human beings are so awful to one another. Although his attempts to answer the question may be part of the explanation,Glover wants to understand why human beings are so awful to one another. Although his attempts to answer the question may be part of the explanation, they are unconvincing as the whole explanation. He lays down an awful lot of blame in this book, but in the end, he does not have the resources to say why eugenics, to take one example, is wrong. He just assumes that his reader will agree with him that it is (which also shows that the book, as well as the sensibilities of the author, is dated).
The hardest questions about the twentieth century are left unaddressed. For instance, where is the discussion of the fact that the major atheist regimes were all openly murderous regimes? Where is the grappling with secularism and the rise of scientific humanism as a factor in this depressing moral history? At the end, Glover tells us patly that we need only see one another as humans. How he could come to such a simplistic conclusion at the end of this detailed analysis of war, murder, and genocide is mysterious but telling. And he does not seem equipped to deal with the possibility of "post" or "trans" humanism either. Appeals to human dignity are utterly empty when they are ungrounded or based in appeals to intuition, which are as unstable as they are divergent across cultures.
This book was slow going for me in the beginning, but I stuck with it and it was worth it. Elie manages to bring together the lives of these four AmerThis book was slow going for me in the beginning, but I stuck with it and it was worth it. Elie manages to bring together the lives of these four American Catholics into a compelling and even surprising narrative. There are moments when Elie allows too much of his own voice and opinions to come out, but mostly he is content to recede into the background. What I appreciate most about this book, in the end, is how the author brings out the humanity of his main cast of characters. All of them struggle, all of them fail time and again, and all of them ultimately find solace in faith alone.
This is a delightful read, though frustrating at times if what you want is a solid argument. I'm not much sold on the theory of evil that he does giveThis is a delightful read, though frustrating at times if what you want is a solid argument. I'm not much sold on the theory of evil that he does give, but it's too underdeveloped as it stands for me to make a solid judgment either way.
Some favorite bits:
"Pure autonomy is a dream of evil. It is also the myth of middle class society...In Shakespearian drama, those who claim to depend upon themselves alone, claiming sole authorship of their own being, are almost always villains. You can appeal to people's absolute moral autonomy, then, as a way of convicting them of evil; but in so doing so you are pandering to a myth that the evil themselves have fallen for in a big way." (12)
"Men and women are thrust at birth into a deep mutual dependence--a truth scandalous to Rousseau, who in his petit-bourgeois way placed an excessive value on human autonomy. But original sin means such total autonomy is a myth. As such, it is a radical sort of notion. It questions the individualist doctrine that we are the sole proprietors of our own actions." (37)
A brilliant reading of the Phaedrus, as well as a brilliant critique of modern thought, which is so much opposed to the Platonic ideal of divine recepA brilliant reading of the Phaedrus, as well as a brilliant critique of modern thought, which is so much opposed to the Platonic ideal of divine receptivity.
What interests me about Plato's conception of mania, which is complex, is how it problematizes our modern conception of autonomy. Mania, as Pieper demonstrates, is primarily a loss of command over oneself, a surrender of self-control. It is a state of passivity, of being washed over by something sublime and outside of oneself. In fact, in order to be receptive, one must surrender one's autonomy, and be open.
Pieper argues, "Plato never denied, or overlooked the fact, that both autonomy and the shattering of that autonomy are essential to the nature of man." He writes that "human nature is so placed within its plane of existence that it remains essentially open to the sphere of the divine. Man is so constituted that, on the one hand, he can be thrown out of the autonomous independence of his thinking by inspiration, which comes to him as a sudden, unpredictable force from outside. On the other hand, this very abandonment of critical sovereignty may bring him an abundance of insight, of light, of truth, of illumination as to the nature of reality which would otherwise remain completely out of his reach. For we are dealing not with self-governing human genius, but with something bestowed by another, a higher or divine power. Nor is this merely an abstract possibility: man's being is at times overpowered by inspiration. It is something that actually happens." (p. 56)
Pieper also traces the role that the encounter with beauty has to transform us; it too can be a kind of mania that ultimately points us to the divine. And it is firmly rooted in sensual eros.
Perhaps the best book I have ever read on virtue, and perhaps relatedly, the best defense of the unity of the virtues thesis I have ever encountered.Perhaps the best book I have ever read on virtue, and perhaps relatedly, the best defense of the unity of the virtues thesis I have ever encountered.