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Against Purity: Living Ethically in Compromised Times

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  106 ratings  ·  11 reviews
The world is in a terrible mess. It is toxic, irradiated, and full of injustice. Aiming to stand aside from the mess can produce a seemingly satisfying self-righteousness in the scant moments we achieve it, but since it is ultimately impossible, individual purity will always disappoint. Might it be better to understand complexity and, indeed, our own complicity in much of ...more
Paperback, 264 pages
Published December 6th 2016 by Univ Of Minnesota Press
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 ·  106 ratings  ·  11 reviews


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Chanda Prescod-weinstein
Jan 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In addition to excellent LotR and Star Trek references, this book is a thoughtful and carefully crafted treatise on how to engage ourselves and others as a collective to create the better worlds that may be possible. I will be thinking about this every day for a while, and if folks were to read only one new non-fiction release right now: this is it.
David
Mar 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
As a non-academic, this was the first book of its type I have ever read. It challenged me in multiple ways, not the least of which was "getting my academic reading-specs" on.

I found the book thoroughly illuminating. It was a welcome lens into a variety of situations, thought-orientations, and possibilities intertwined with a karmic interdependent societal environment.

Positioning myself through the vocabulicious text into the reflection, analysis, and potential futures was a delight.

Scott Neigh
Another politically rich scholarly book that deserves a full review that I probably wont end up having time to write. Dense and brilliant. I love its call to reject left purity politics, but I wont try to offer even a quick gloss on how it gets there it argues for understanding the world, our selves, and our politics in complexly entangled ways, and part of how that is reflected in the text involves juxtaposing and tying together a disparate array of thinkers, writing, and areas of concern, so ...more
Kendra
Dec 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Some of this book is fascinating, some of it not particularly impactful. Although I really liked the parts that dealt with what it means to live ethically (and find it a nice counterpoint to books like The Sexual Politics of Meat), I feel like editing it to leave behind some of the more academic portions would have made the book tighter and more effective.
Kara Lessin
Apr 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant, modest, electrifying, and multivalent this book was dense and philosophical but managed to suggest manageable personal responsive actions to the state of the world as well as larger systemic/collective shifts. Totally amazing, 100% recommend. ...more
Josh Workman
Jun 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-read, feminism, queer
It is difficult to put to words how deeply Shotwells work has shaped my thinking. As an individual imbued in a profession of Purity (engineering), Shotwells articulation of starting from impurity as a means for us to imagine the future is liberating and empowering. In particular, I found the discourse on how civilian naturalism and more general habits of observing to be helpful and insightful.

Much thanks to the author for this contribution. I am excited to follow Shotwells thinking and offerings
...more
Ryan
Nov 13, 2018 added it
2.5 stars
Jennifer
Apr 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
The desire for purity - especially philosophical/ethical/political purity, is something I've found myself often pondering since the presidential campaign on 2016. So when I saw this book at the library, I knew I had to check it out immediately. This book, while not exactly what I was expecting, contained many "this is exactly what I needed to be reading right now" synchronicity moments.

Rather than spending much time pontificating over purity in abstract, this book uses purity as a lens to
...more
Jenn
Oct 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: books-won
I won a copy of this book.

This book was too heavy for my taste, as of late. It was thick and I just couldn't get into it.
Ben
Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book fulfills everything the description promises. Best nonfiction book I've read in the 2010s.
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“If this were the problem, just giving people more and better information would correct their knowledge problem. But we don’t just have a knowledge problem—we have a habit-of-being problem; the problem of whiteness is a problem of what we expect, our ways of being, bodily-ness, and how we understand ourselves as “placed” in time. Whiteness is a problem of being shaped to think that other people are the problem. Another” 1 likes
“I argue against purism not because I want a devastated world, the Mordor of industrial capitalism emerging as from a closely aligned alternate universe through our floating islands of plastic gradually breaking down into microbeads consumed by the scant marine life left alive after generations of overfishing, bottom scraping, and coral reef–killing ocean acidification; our human-caused, place-devastating elevated sea levels; our earth-shaking, water poisoning fracking; our toxic lakes made of the externalities of rare-earth mineral production for so-called advanced electronics; our soul-and-life
destroying prisons; our oil spills; our children playing with bits of dirty bombs; our white phosphorus; our generations of trauma held in the body; our cancers; and I could go on. I argue against purism because it is one bad but common approach to devastation in all its forms. It is a common approach for anyone who attempts to meet and control a complex situation that is fundamentally outside our control. It is a bad approach because it shuts down precisely the field of possibility that might allow us to take better collective action against the destruction of the world in all its strange, delightful, impure frolic. Purism is a de-collectivizing, de-mobilizing, paradoxical politics
of despair. This world deserves better.”
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