From the Inside Flap
In EROS AND THE GOOD, philosopher James Gouinlock examines the nature of human ideals, the state of contemporary culture, the self-image of man, and the meanings of life. With breadth of learning and reflection, Gouinlock presents a searching examination of the nature of morality and the good life. Whether it be the trained philosopher, or the professional inquirer concerned with the moral life and its presuppositions, or any individual who seeks wisdom about human existence, the reader will find a wealth of challenging and rewarding ideas.
In a candid, original, and disciplined analysis, Gouinlock contends that stability and fulfillment in life depend on specifiable natural conditions. These conditions are not mere conventions, and they are not indefinitely manipulable. While they permit of diversities, they also constitute well-defined limits. To know these conditions 0 or orders, as Gouinlock also calls them - is to possess wisdom according to nature. Our generic moral problem is not that of certifying moral judgments as absolute but in identifying and establishing forms of life that are suitable to the real demands and promises of natural existence. Wisdom is not a form of moral absolutism, nor is it by any means a form of relativism. Wisdom requires that definite moral principles and practices be accorded very high priority in our behavior, or failure and even disaster await us. We learn of these natural orders throughout this lucid and eloquent study.
Gouinlock affirms that natural discipline and potentialities support human flourishing and happiness, but we must develop the virtues appropriate to them. Drawing upon such thinkers as Plato, Aristotle, Nietzsche, Santayana, and Dewey, Gouinlock offers an account of the forms of excellence that are truly suitable to the human condition. He argues convincingly that the virtues are the greatest human asset, and they withstand any assault from moral relativism. The forms of ideal life that the exercise of virtue might yield are set forth in detail. This is the life of eros: devotion to ideal goods. Not in generations has any philosopher written of the life of eros in such a compelling manner.
This is a book to seize anyone's moral imagination. At the same time, it brings a clarity and understanding to moral thought and moral life that will be welcomed by all those who seek intelligibility in this most important dimension of human endeavor, whether they be philosophers, psychologists, social scientists, or students of the humanities.
About the Author
James S. Gouinlock (Atlanta, GA) is professor emeritus of philosophy at Emory University and the author or editor of six books, including Rediscovering the Moral Life: Philosophy and Human Practice and The Moral Writings of John Dewey.