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Good and Evil (Great Minds Series) Paperback – November 1, 1999


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Product Details

  • Series: Great Minds Series
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books; Revised edition (November 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 157392752X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573927529
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,563,549 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Richard Taylor (Interlaken, NY) has held professorships in philosophy at Brown University, the graduate faculty of Columbia University, and the University of Rochester. He is the author of Restoring Pride; Love Affairs: Marriage & Infidelity; and Freedom, Anarchy, and the Law.

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Customer Reviews

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Perhaps it's an even greater must for those who feel confident they have all the answers.
Glenn Camhi
I returned to this book after going through an extensive survey of moral philosophy, Pojman's excellent anthology Ethical Theory.
Bernard Oppenheim
All that said, this book is literally one of the best reading philosophy books I have EVER read (I'd place it in my top ten).
Kevin Currie-Knight

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Glenn Camhi on October 23, 1998
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
(Note: THIS BOOK *IS* AVAILABLE! If you're seeing this on a page that lists the book as "Unavailable," click on "Paperback (Rev)" under Product Details / Other Editions for the REVISED 1999 EDITION.)

GOOD AND EVIL: A NEW DIRECTION is an amazingly readable and thorough inquiry into the nature of human ethics from a purely secular point of view. Without God or any other supernatural force or "creator" of human beings, what is the true nature of morality? What can be the purpose of life? Richard Taylor explores these grand questions with disarming clarity and a sense of exciting discovery.

Unlike so many other writers and philosophers in the field, Taylor avoids the usual pitfalls of circular arguments and cheated "self-evident" givens to defend secular morality and meaning. Taylor's is one of the most rigorously honest and solid explorations of secular morality I have read. (A fine companion is Michael Shermer's "The Science of Good and Evil.")

Instead of the typical appeal to reason alone, which Taylor cogently argues can never truly explain or defend morality, GOOD AND EVIL appeals first and foremost to innate human desire and will. His crisp style and easy use of fable and analogy (most notably, clever variations of the Sisyphus myth: what could make Sisyphus' task seem "meaningful"?) make this book appropriate for the casual reader and advanced philosophy, psychology, theology and/or anthropology student alike. Sticking to a purely secular view without condescension toward other points of view, Taylor not only offers airtight explanations of morality and meaning, but he sends the reader off with a greater sense of hope and love of life than do many theological and spiritual texts on the same topic.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Currie-Knight TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
It was Vanderbilt philosopher John Lachs who said that only the philosopher, reflecting on her homogenized sample group of professor-colleagues and college-minded students, really think that by-in-large, humans are rational animals. The problem with ethics and 'moral theory' today is that it drastically overemphasizes the power of rationalism and appeals to...well...theory. Plato, Kant, Mill, and most of those in between have 'argued' for certain moral systems based on some objective standard (the pleasure principle, categorical imperative, etc.) accessible it is said, through the faculty of reason. There is, it is said, a True Morality and general principles therein (that exist whether we think they do or not); only the reasoned, contemplative mind can know them.
Richard Taylor has a problem with that. His goal is to examine rataionalism's manifestations in the history of ethical philosophy, argue why that conception is flawed, and replace it with something different, better, and hopefully better capable to portray morality as it really is - rather than as philosophers (who often value consistency over accuracy) tend to pretend it exists.
All that said, this book is literally one of the best reading philosophy books I have EVER read (I'd place it in my top ten). Taylor's three sections (history, argument against, elucidation) are simply first rate for their clarity, terseness, conversationalism, and structure. It is rare to read a 300 page book that can present a history, argue against its principles, present new principles, argue for them, present details on them, and still have you interested. This book does that.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Maine Writer VINE VOICE on October 21, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had the pleasure of taking three classes with Professor Taylor at the University of Rochester. They are the few classes I've taken with me throughout my life's journey. This book is wonderful example of the clear thinking, and simplicity of thought, that are the gifts of truly brilliant philosophers. Taylor does not try to overwhelm the reader with difficult vocabulary or ornate sentences. He doesn't skirt around issues. He tries to be both practical and insightful, and succeeds on both counts. Think of this as an owner's manual for the thoughtful person.
I highly recommend it.
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