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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Human Dignity and Political Theory
In this lucid and highly readable "defense of human dignity" (xii) and rights, Kateb (Princeton University) explicitly avoids the use of theological insights (156), preferring the autonomous individual and human reason as his guides. For Kateb, the equal status of persons and the dignity of the person are not synonymous with the dignity of the species. Human "stature"...
Published on January 11, 2011 by H. Lee Cheek, Jr., Ph.D.

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3.0 out of 5 stars Misguided Anthropocentrism
There are some very important aspects to this book but it also was somewhat disappointing. Kateb writes effectively about human rights and moral values with a foundation in human dignity, and he correctly asserts that human dignity, while crucially important in these topical areas, often is neglected. The argument, vastly simplified, is that every individual is unique...
Published 4 months ago by Barry N. Bishop


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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Human Dignity and Political Theory, January 11, 2011
This review is from: Human Dignity (Hardcover)
In this lucid and highly readable "defense of human dignity" (xii) and rights, Kateb (Princeton University) explicitly avoids the use of theological insights (156), preferring the autonomous individual and human reason as his guides. For Kateb, the equal status of persons and the dignity of the person are not synonymous with the dignity of the species. Human "stature" is viewed as individual achievement, whereas a complete theory of human dignity must include "equal individual status" and the "status of the species" (9). The study predictably values the individual over the community, often discounting communitarian achievements to the promotion of human dignity. While exhibiting much perceptiveness, this study approaches human dignity with what some readers will view as overly modest expectations, perhaps not unrelated to the author's refusal to fully assess the contribution of religious thinking on the topic.
In defending the "inviolability" (31) of human rights on moral and existential grounds, the "golden rule" is offered as the best guide for private morality, while a humane constitution is presented as the "best public morality" (52). Kateb's critique of many prominent thinkers, including Peter Singer, J. S. Mill, and others, and his provocative application of a theory of human dignity and rights to contemporary politics, are significant accomplishments of the book.

H. Lee Cheek, Jr., Ph.D.
Assoc. Vice President of Academic Affairs
and Professor of Political Science
Athens State University
lee.cheek@athens.edu
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On Dignity, November 12, 2011
By 
Stephen Pellerine (In a bookshelf somewhere) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Human Dignity (Hardcover)
The book presents itself as a classic philosophical essay indulging into societal matters, perhaps the most important matter: Dignity.

From ancient thoughts extended in antiquity asking "what is dignity" to more modern day texting and the creation and self-absorption of one self's digital identify Kateb (2011) looks at concepts, such as; egocentrism, humanity, status, uniqueness, and morality associated with human rights.

The genre of writing and field (philosophy) is quite new to me. The read was therefore a new experience and took more time than usual, but it was enjoyable. A reflective read. I found myself stopping a lot. Questioning a lot. Underlining more than normal. It is better this way, like a movie you walk away with with a message - not just entertainment: both.

So admittedly not as a philosopher I found the essay quite enjoyable. If you are a philosopher, and have such background, I would advise a flip through the pages (look inside) to get a better impression. I cannot judge the quality of the philosophy, nor an essay on dignity, but I can say the literature itself was splendid.

If in the area for such literature I also found Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers (Issues of Our Time) quite enjoyable.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Misguided Anthropocentrism, June 6, 2014
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This review is from: Human Dignity (Paperback)
There are some very important aspects to this book but it also was somewhat disappointing. Kateb writes effectively about human rights and moral values with a foundation in human dignity, and he correctly asserts that human dignity, while crucially important in these topical areas, often is neglected. The argument, vastly simplified, is that every individual is unique and is of equal worth: human rights are based on these two facts. Moral values, which are not treated as subjective or relative, are based on interpretation of human, social reality. He distinguishes human "status"--the equal worth of every person--from the "stature" of individuals, which is related to actual achievements in life. His critiques of moral relativism and such schools of thought as Utilitarianism are effective and move us away from some of the less acute recent discussions in moral, political, and legal thinking. And again a recognition of the crucial reality of human dignity is the basis for all such discussion.

There are six fundamental human rights based on the equal status and worth of persons: the right of life; the right of liberty; the rights of mind ("free speech and press, and association"); the right of religion; the right of property; and "the right to due process of law". (p. 89) Kateb argues that constitutional democracies are the only political forms that adequately support these rights, and he expresses serious misgivings about the possible negative effects of capitalism on rights, dominantly because it promotes inequality when not restrained. He does not, however, argue against the effectiveness of capitalism in the creation of human goods.

Where this all goes very wrong, from my perspective, is in Kateb's evaluation of human worth in comparison to that of non-human beings. He opens the book with this statement: "All individuals are equal; no other species is equal to humanity. These are the two basic propositions that make up the concept of human dignity." (p. 6) No other species has a similar dignity, and in fact Kateb argues that humans represent a break from nature. He lists "the uniquely human characteristics, traits and attributes, abilities and capacities" that "establish that humanity is partly nonnatural." (p. 133) These are spoken language, written language, "the ability both to accumulate knowledge and become self-conscious", the "capacity for agency", "potentiality", unpredictability and creativity, and imagination. He does acknowledge that human can cause immense harm to one another and to nature, but he also argues that it is human destiny, related to our dignity, to become the "stewards" of nature. And the problem with this is, again from my perspective, that if we do not recognize other species and nature itself as having equal dignity and status then we have no reason to invest ourselves in the preservation of those species, or of nature itself. Kateb's argument in part is that we invest our political and legal efforts to protect human rights precisely because we all share in the equality of our status. However if we do not share that equality with nature, because of our higher "stature", there is very little reason, at least in his basic argument, for us to preserve nature and ultimately ourselves. The flaw here is an unjustified anthropocentrism, which is somewhat surprising in the context of the rest of his argument.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, October 20, 2014
This review is from: Human Dignity (Hardcover)
Very Interesting. Look at this cover. The author is also Baha'i

http://www.amazon.de/Die-Entwicklung-Kollektiven-Bewusstseins-Gesellschaft/dp/3831617015/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1381341803&sr=1-1&keywords=Die+Entwicklung+des+Kollektiven+Bewusstseins+der+Gesellschaft
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Human Dignity, August 11, 2011
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This review is from: Human Dignity (Hardcover)
An interesting view on the way we treat and should treat each other. It is unique,extensive and thought provoking.It seeks to provide ethical parameters
and to question some traditional approaches.
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Human Dignity
Human Dignity by George Kateb (Hardcover - January 3, 2011)
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