*Starred Review* The Enlightenment project of constructing a rational morality—pronounced dead by commentators on the left and right—has found a champion determined to resurrect it for the twenty-first century. Neiman acknowledges, with distress, that the moral vocabulary of Voltaire, Rousseau, and Kant now survives only among conservatives, whose religious orthodoxies and political agendas she rejects. But progressives must recover that vocabulary, she asserts, if they are to renew society’s commitment to egalitarian justice. Ideologically disarmed by the collapse of Marxism and philosophically paralyzed by the radical skepticism of postmodernism, left-liberal thinkers risk surrendering the young to religious fundamentalists and cynical nihilists if they cannot reclaim the secular ideals of pioneering Enlightenment writers. Committed to the pursuit of happiness through reason, these writers defy their detractors’ caricatures by soberly acknowledging the limits of human faculties, even voicing reverent gratitude for nature’s inexplicable mysteries, while still cultivating hope that human endeavor can advance good and defeat evil. In such mature hope, Neiman finds the possibility for a twenty-first-century moral heroism that brings to our age both the protean adaptability of Homer’s Odysseus and his resourceful resolve to shape his own future. An engaging analysis that will attract even readers who do not share Neiman’s left-liberal premises. --Bryce Christensen
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A New York Times Notable Book of 2008
"Deep and important. . . . Neiman's particular skill lies in expressing sensitivity, intelligence and moral seriousness without any hint of oversimplification, dogmatism or misplaced piety. She clearly and unflinchingly sees life as it is, but also sees how it might be, and could be, if we recaptured some of the hopes and ideals that currently escape us."--Simon Blackburn, New York Times
"The problem with our liberal elites, [Neiman] insists, is lame metaphysics--a lack of philosophical nerve. . . . Neiman is a subtle and energetic guide . . . [who] writes with verve and sometimes epigrammatic wit."--Gary Rosen, Wall Street Journal
"Susan Neiman is a masterly storyteller. . . . [Her] retellings of the Odyssey
and the Book of Job . . . are themselves worth the price of admission."--K. Anthony Appiah, Slate
] is concerned with the task of making philosophy timely and accessible again. . . . [A] lucid and impassioned study."--Richard Wolin, Dissent