Moral Wisdom and Good Lives (Paperback)John Kekes (author)
- We can order this
In this profound and yet accessible book, John Kekes discusses moral wisdom: a virtue essential to living a morally good and personally satisfying life. He advances a broad, nontechnical argument that considers the adversities inherent in the human condition and assists in the achievement of good lives.
The possession of moral wisdom, Kekes asserts, is a matter of degree: more of it makes lives better, less makes them worse. Exactly what is moral wisdom, however, and how should it be sought? Ancient Greek and medieval Christian philosophers were centrally concerned with it. By contrast, modern Western sensibility doubts the existence of a moral order in reality; and because we doubt it, and have developed no alternatives, we have grown dubious about the traditional idea of wisdom.
Kekes returns to the classical Greek sources of Western philosophy to argue for the contemporary significance of moral wisdom. He develops a proposal that is eudaimonistic-secular, anthropocentric, pluralistic, individualistic, and agonistic. He understands moral wisdom as focusing on the human effort to create many different forms of good lives. Although the approach is Aristotelian, the author concentrates on formulating and defending a contemporary moral ideal. The importance of this ideal, he shows, lies in increasing our ability to cope with life's adversities by improving our judgment.
In chapters on moral imagination, self-knowledge, and moral depth, Kekes calls attention to aspects of our inner life that have been neglected because of our cultural inattention to moral wisdom. He discusses these inner processes through the tragedies of Sophocles, which can inspire us with their enduring moral significance and help us to understand the importance of moral wisdom to living a good life.
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Number of pages: 256
Weight: 369 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 14 mm
"John Kekes's project has been to encourage others to be realistic about what it takes to make good lives for themselves in a troubled, flawed, and apparently contingent universe."-- Preston Jones, Cambridge School of Dallas * Touchstone *
"One of the most important and incisive contributions to the current retrieval of virtue ethics."* Theological Studies *
"Kekes advances a broad, nontechnical argument that considers the adversities inherent in the human condition and assists in the achievement of good lives. The possession of moral wisdom is according to him a matter of degree: more of it makes life better, less makes it worse.... Kekes calls attention to aspects of our inner life that have been neglected because of our cultural inattention to moral wisdom."* International Journal of Psychology *
"Kekes argues in this finely crafted book that moral wisdom is the most important virtue for human beings today. In the absence of a generally shared conception of Good, each of us must devise his or her own plan for a good life. To achieve one's plan is no easy task, and to confront the obstacles that inevitably ensue, wisdom is essential. This virtue consists, Kekes thinks, of three modes: moral imagination, self-knowledge, and moral depth. Kekes addresses with insight topics that have often been neglected."* Library Journal *
"Drawing upon insights from both philosophy and literature-key writers deployed by Kekes include Sophocles, Aristotle, Plato, and Stuart Hampshire-the whole book is characterized by clarity in exposition, a firm sense of direction, judicious use of examples, and a wonderful blend of realism about limitations of all kinds together with a disciplined optimism about the possibilities still open to us in building lives which are both moral and fulfilling.... Moral philosophers and moral educators have much to gain from a careful reading of this work."* The Heythrop Journal *