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Eros and the Good: Wisdom According to Nature Hardcover – April 1, 2004
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From the Inside Flap
In a candid, original, and disciplined analysis, Gouinlock contends that stability and fulfillment in life depend on specifiable natural conditions. These conditions are not mere conventions, and they are not indefinitely manipulable. While they permit of diversities, they also constitute well-defined limits. To know these conditions 0 or orders, as Gouinlock also calls them - is to possess wisdom according to nature. Our generic moral problem is not that of certifying moral judgments as absolute but in identifying and establishing forms of life that are suitable to the real demands and promises of natural existence. Wisdom is not a form of moral absolutism, nor is it by any means a form of relativism. Wisdom requires that definite moral principles and practices be accorded very high priority in our behavior, or failure and even disaster await us. We learn of these natural orders throughout this lucid and eloquent study.
Gouinlock affirms that natural discipline and potentialities support human flourishing and happiness, but we must develop the virtues appropriate to them. Drawing upon such thinkers as Plato, Aristotle, Nietzsche, Santayana, and Dewey, Gouinlock offers an account of the forms of excellence that are truly suitable to the human condition. He argues convincingly that the virtues are the greatest human asset, and they withstand any assault from moral relativism. The forms of ideal life that the exercise of virtue might yield are set forth in detail. This is the life of eros: devotion to ideal goods. Not in generations has any philosopher written of the life of eros in such a compelling manner.
This is a book to seize anyone's moral imagination. At the same time, it brings a clarity and understanding to moral thought and moral life that will be welcomed by all those who seek intelligibility in this most important dimension of human endeavor, whether they be philosophers, psychologists, social scientists, or students of the humanities.
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Gouinlock, in Eros and the Good, fulfills this approach very successfully. He reviews many of the past attempts and shows where we can draw upon them to good effect and where they seem to be a dead end. Eros is the ancient Greek idea of love for the ideal possibilities of existence. Gouinlock has respect for religion and religious interests, but he is not a religious believer. It is refreshing to see how religious values (among others) can be modified and retained instead of being either swallowed whole or just dismissed. His last chapter, "Meanings," talks of piety, spirituality, and immortality while remaining naturalistic. The author has remarkable insights into the ways that human beings can remain fully realistic about their lives and still develop forms of ideal life in the context of the life of action.
The book is written with much appreciation for human limitations but also for our highest possibilities. I was most impressed by his discussion of moral virtue. He makes the most convincing case for it that I have ever seen, and that includes Plato.Read more ›
John P. Anton