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Manliness Hardcover – February 6, 2006
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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From Publishers Weekly
Harvard government professor Mansfield delves into philosophy, literature and science to define manliness and to argue that it should have a place in an increasingly non-gender-specific society. Throughout, Mansfield clearly states his intentions, and though he may have convinced himself he accomplished his goals, readers will be skeptical; when, for example, he sets out to "elevate manliness from aggression to assertion and thereby discover its connection to politics," he jumps from Hemingway to Achilles before posing a question that has little more than a thin patina of importance: "In our time there are many who say that heroes lack humanity and few who will admit that humanity needs heroes. But at all times heroes have to assert themselves. The question is, what is in it for us?" Similar murky questions and non-sequitur lines of logic continue throughout: "Man has fearsome powers of wisdom and fire over beasts. All beasts fear fire, which perhaps represents the Promethean gift of technology." This clunky chain of supposition is followed by a brief foray into The Jungle Book. But Mansfield's theories on gender equality are likely to create the most conversation: "women are the weaker sex," "women's bodies are made to attract and to please men" and "now that women are equal, they should be able to accept being told that they aren't, quite" all appear on the same page. Mansfield set out to write a provocative book, but ended up penning a juvenile screed.
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The work follows a familiar line of thinking - locating the cause of modern relativism and nihilism in the foundational texts of liberal democracy by Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Locke. The attempt to bring the light of reason into the cave is accompanied by an explicit denunciation of courage and manliness. This, ironically, ultimately leads to an explosion of irrationality and assertion (Simon de Beauvoir) that cannot satisfy simultaneously the desire for independence and transcendence. Never once denying the evils of traditional patriarchy, Mansfield looks to the classical political philosophy of Aristotle and Plato to find a way out.
The incredible wit and gravitas of Mansfield makes for a compelling account of what manliness is, and I'm so sorry but no, he is not politically correct.
"I don't mind giving you advice but I don't want to rob you of your duty to think and your freedom to choose."
The book itself is, of course, wonderful -- 6 stars -- but the Kindle format does not have interactive footnotes. A book this demanding requires reference to the footnotes. This is an extremely exasperating experience on a Kindle
Most recent customer reviews
1) neuter all the boys and men
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