From Library Journal
Schwartz (psychology, Swarthmore) here applies the Socratic maxim that the unexamined life is not worth living. For him, the contemporary inquiry is personal, encompassing education, business, sports, and religion. The illusion in vogue is that we can "have it all." "I would like" becomes "I want," which becomes "I need." Inevitably, reality and illusion crash. Such is the stuff of moral philosophy and the substance of Schwartz's book, which concludes that the "continued spread of economic objectives and tactics into domains of life that people have traditionally regarded as governed by other goals and rules are turning social life into a jungle." Perhaps so. Among the phenomena Schwartz points to is the "guilding" of the white-collar professions, which has not always been for the better. Whether one agrees with Schwartz or not, his book bears reading because it addresses key issues of today and asks questions seldom raised.Steven Silkunas, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, Philadelphia
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
This broad-brush essay starts from the premise that ``there can be too much freedom in life, and that too much freedom has a serious moral, social, and emotional price.'' Schwartz (Psychology/Swarthmore) is concerned with the darker side of the seemingly limitless choices of middle-class American life. Addressing the psychic toll exacted by too fervent a pursuit of money, power, and position, he catalogues many disturbing features of our time: predatory corporations, the status of medicine and law as self-regulating monopolies, the commercialization of professional sports. Ultimately, he concludes that we must sacrifice some individual freedom for community values and ``reform our institutions so that being a good person is less costly.'' The author is at his best is when he draws on his psychological expertise to make arguments about human nature, our attitudes toward consumption and status, the components of love, the value of work, and the importance of classroom attitudes that foster lifelong learning. Schwartz's grasp of politics and economics is less solid--he doesn't mention the communitarian movement, whose critique of individualism and advocacy of a sense of social responsibility would seem to make it a natural ally. Similarly, he offers only sketchy analyses of what's needed to reorient law and medicine, how to revamp college sports or foster model retail outlets such as consumer cooperatives. He offers an absorbing discussion of his own return to Judaism through a congregation rife with conflict over the relation between religion and politics, but he might also have explored whether institutions other than religious ones can help us ``reintroduce the language of responsibility and morality into our public life.'' Schwartz's ambitious reach understandably exceeds his grasp. But his effort is worthy, and his conclusions contain much sense. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.