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Prejudices: A Philosophical Dictionary

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ISBN-13: 978-0674700666
ISBN-10: 067470066X
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Editorial Reviews


All of the qualities of mind for which Nisbet is famous are fully displayed in this marvelous book―his philosophical profundity, his mastery of history, his biting wit, his moral outrage, his uncommon sense. Nisbet’s dictionary will inevitably be compared to its Voltairean model, but I myself prefer to think of it as one of the great examples of the American jeremiad. In my library Prejudices will stand between the sermons of Jonathan Edwards and the eruptions of Mark Twain. (Kenneth S. Lynn)

What a bloody wonderful book! What a perfect idea! And the perfect author! My position is that no future book should ever be written on any of the subjects touched. (William F. Buckley, Jr.)

Robert Nisbet’s new book I thought extremely good―remarkable for its clarity and wit, as perceptive as it is intelligent, a welcome voice of reason in a debate too often given over to pedants and ideologues. (Lewis H. Lapaham)

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Product Details

  • Series: Philosophical Dictionary
  • Paperback: 318 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (September 15, 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067470066X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674700666
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #791,560 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAME on January 17, 2005
Format: Paperback
I am surprised that no one has previously reviewed this book. It is an especially brilliant one, one whose definition of political and social concepts is written with a great knowledge and deep understanding. It is a book which can tell the reader a tremendous amount about the age we live in. Nisbet is a wonderful writer .

Here is a small sample from his entry on Fanaticism.


This is to zeal what paranoia is to suspicion. There is no area of human behavior exempt from the affliction. Fanaticism is seen in the lifelong labor of the Baconian , certain each day that the next day will bring the long- awaited proof of the non- existence of Shakespeare. It is seen in the relentless hatreds of academics convinced that they have seen the only one true curricular light and feeling betrayed by all who do not see it. And it is to be found in the speculations of ' gold bugs' absolute in their faith that only gold will escape the imminent collapse of all equities and securities.

If you take interest in present day political and social realities this book should be part of your library.
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26 of 34 people found the following review helpful By The Man in the Hathaway Shirt on August 11, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
People who think they are "conservative" should read this book. For that matter, "liberals" should read it too. I put these words in quotes because I don't really know what they mean, and I think half the people who go about using them to describe themselves or others haven't really thought about them, either. We're not much into self-reflection or any kind of reflection these days. In an age of shrill noise from Fox News, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity and other self-aggrandizing pygmies, the late Robert Nisbet is someone needed--and largely absent--today: a rational social voice, a well-reasoned professor and philosopher from Columbia University who arrived at his beliefs after careful thought and analysis, rather than someone who adopts or corrupts a dogma and then slants the evidence his way. Nisbet sees no religious or even moral conflict in Abortion, for example, pointing out that the fetus is sanctified neither in the Bible nor in the tradition of the time, and wasn't until the 20th century. Pro-Lifers who go to the Bible for weight to their case have twisted the Scriptures; by the same token, he shows how Roe v. Wade was not good law, or at least wise law. In other words, he sides with neither dogma, but arrives at his conclusion via his own thinking. How refreshing.

I discovered this book--and Nisbet--quite by accident in the mid 80s. I was browsing for nothing in particular in a bookshop and found a paperback copy. Even though I knew nothing of the author or many of the subjects then covered, somehow I was attracted to the title, and bought it as an act of faith. I was only in high school at the time and really didn't grasp the intricacies of many of the arguments, nor get all the references.
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