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Moral Clarity: A Guide for Grown-Up Idealists Paperback – September 6, 2009
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"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
"[Moral Clarity] is concerned with the task of making philosophy timely and accessible again. . . . [A] lucid and impassioned study."--Richard Wolin, Dissent
Top Customer Reviews
The thesis may seem relatively trivial but there are many philosophers which adopted an extreme pessimism and do not subscribe it. We also hear very frequent references to the immutability of "human nature", and the subsequent call for resignation.
The author is an American philosopher born in Atlanta with an entry in Wikipedia and a Web site. She has other books, namely the "Evil in Modern Thought" published in 2002.
The author has a great fascination for the Enlightenment thought and is strongly influenced by Kant. The "Evil in Modern Thought" owes somehow its genesis to the Lisbon earthquake of 1755, to the heated philosophical discussions caused by this event and to the difficulty of reconciling the existence of a kind God, constantly intervening in the world, with the occurrence of a disaster of the magnitude of the earthquake, in a Catholic country often called "Much Faithful Nation" by the Vatican.
The excellent reception of the book has encouraged the author to move to this new one, in which the philosophy, by enabling us to better understand the world in which we live, gives us the tools to transform it. The title of the book "Moral Clarity" is an American expression dear to the political right.Read more ›
To my mind, the key here, as in Evil in Modern Thought, is her gift in articulating a philosophy that does not come easily: Kantian or perhaps Jewish transcendentalism, in which we acknowledge that there are moral imperatives accessible to us by our reason, which imperatives or values are very real, yet not objective in the sense that they can be proved. The left reviles the religious certainty of the Bush and the neo-conservatives - morality there is real and a matter of truth; the right reviles the left's post-modern rejection of moral imperative as having any reality at all. How do you challenge God? How do you manage the paradox of radical uncertainty about the source of moral clarity, but the sense, on the other hand, that there are some clear answers (as least from time to time)?
Ranging from Abraham's confrontation with God over the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah, to a defense of the Enlightenment thinkers, to a retelling of the lessons of Odysseus's journey home from Troy, Susan Neiman proposes a method for approaching moral clarity. There are no easy answers, and we need not necessarily agree in our conclusions (an irony about moral clarity), but, in the words of Robert Louis Stevenson, it is better to travel hopefully than to arrive.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Susan Neiman delivers as promised an accessible text and a great read in which she vigorously defends the Enlightenment against all comers including counter-Enlightenment's Isaiah... Read morePublished 22 months ago by Geoff Crocker
Muddled and cherry-picks the facts. I am sympathetic to her politics, but Ms. Neiman is not a good writer, and after criticizing other movements for trying to hammer their ideals... Read morePublished on July 6, 2014 by The Man in the Hathaway Shirt
The fundamental message of this book (as I read it) is that we shouldn't abandon all hope for the future nor put aside efforts to improve the future because of the huge difference... Read morePublished on August 28, 2013 by Carl_in_Richland
These turbulent times of toxic politics, unbridled greed on Wall Street, gluttonous wars, excessive consumption on Main Street, an undiscerning and dissembling media, and a general... Read morePublished on November 11, 2012 by Michael Totten
Although it is impossible not to agree with Neiman in her yearning for having a moral stance in contemporary world, she, despite all her good intentions, fails to provide a... Read morePublished on September 30, 2012 by R. Kocer
Moral Clarity is so clear as to be dazzling--dazzling in the practicality of its conclusions, dazzling in the transparency of its elaboration, dazzling in the economy with which it... Read morePublished on July 25, 2012 by Hayden V. White
The background for this book is the recent resurgence of American conservatism, and more specifically, the mood of the country that led to widespread support for President Bush's... Read morePublished on September 24, 2011 by Herbert Gintis
This book is tantalizing because Neiman is so well-read, is so energetic, and has her heart so much in the right place. Read morePublished on June 18, 2011 by Kylo Ginsberg