- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: Free Press; 1st edition (February 5, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0684864630
- ISBN-13: 978-0684864631
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,862 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Quest for Cosmic Justice Paperback – February 5, 2002
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Thomas Sowell is a man of immense learning but with a common touch. His books reveal a dazzling mind that ranges freely and easily from history and sociology to economics to public policy. He conveys complex ideas in a simple way for a mass audience, a skill he learned as an academic who writes a syndicated newspaper column. This strength is on full view in The Quest for Cosmic Justice, which is perhaps best described as a work of moral philosophy. That may sound off-putting, but it shouldn't. Again, Sowell writes for lay readers, and his clear thinking is on immediate display. His topic is justice, broadly understood. We constantly hear of "social justice," he says. But how is social justice different from other kinds of justice? The word social, in fact, is redundant here: "All justice is inherently social. Can someone on a desert island be either just or unjust?" The book goes on to show how one person's sense of justice and equality can lead to their exact opposites: injustice and inequality. He holds no quarter for those who pursue "cosmic justice," the dangerous notion that people can right all wrongs, and favors "traditional justice," which emphasizes rules and procedures. The Quest for Cosmic Justice ought to be required reading for all students in college-level political theory courses; Sowell's conservative politics and aversion to academic jargon probably guarantee it won't be. That's a shame, because he is the very definition of a public intellectual--and The Quest for Cosmic Justice is another awesome achievement. --John J. Miller --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
"Much of the world today and down through centuries of history has suffered the terrible consequences of unbridled government power, the prime evil that the writers of the American constitution sought to guard against." It is this "unbridled government power" that prolific political theorist Sowell (Affirmative Action Reconsidered) fears most as something that follows necessarily when societies try to achieve "cosmic justice" (as opposed to "social justice"). "Cosmic justice," he asserts, "is not about the rules of the game" but rather about "putting particular segments of society in the position that they would have been in but for some undeserved misfortune." Referring often to 20th-century world history, he argues persuasively that whatever benefits one might hope would result from trying to right the past wrongs of the world (instead of trying to repair the present world), they are not worth the almost inevitable risks of the loss of freedom and the rise of despotism. As Sowell does so well in his other booksAmany of which analyze the tradeoff between freedom and equalityAhe presents his case in clear, convincing, and accessible language. Strongly recommended for most public and academic libraries.AJack Forman, Mesa Coll. Lib., San Diego
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
I read the entire Intellectuals and Society, and thought maybe this would just be an addendum. This book stands on its own. It delves into the psyche of the Leftist and their position in society.
In this books four chapters--each one being it's own symposium--Sowell reflects upon how justice is being corrupted, and what the disastrous consequences.
Symposium 1 is a boilerplate discussion on how the idea of justice has shifted. Ancients such as Aristotle, Cicero, Aquinas, and moderns such as C. S. Lewis and Ayn Rand, understood justice as meaning having the same ground-rules for all people. However, many moderns--Rawls is his opposition, but it would include Kant, etc--define justice as what we call equality. Specifically, a cosmic equality that overcomes birth defects, inherited afflictions, raw-deal childhoods, and ancestral "precious condition of servitude."
This sinister amphibole is the main-spring of the world's corruption. The essential evil is that it is within our power to have a consistent framework of law, order, and stability that allows people to prosper. However, it is beyond our capabilities to compensate for Down's Syndrome, an abusive childhood, or any racial sins.
The Anointed (another book of Sowell's) try to compensate for this cosmic injustices by destroying the framework of law, order, and stability, and stacking the deck in favor of the "disadvantages." Philosophically, the problem is that two wrongs do not make a right; practically, the problem is that those who are cosmically advantaged (through no fault of their own) are, in fact, being suppressed to society's disadvantage.
The last symposium is the most chilling. The genius of America is the Rule of Law, that we are all playing by the same rules, and we have a framework of stability to prosper. In order to achieve cosmic justice, this framework is being destroyed. Instead of a democracy, we are getting an autocracy, not of King George III, but of bureaucrats, feel-good pressure groups, and run-of-the-mill factions. America is lees "One Nation, under God," but more like De Medici Italy.
Supplemental readings would include Sowell's "The Vision of the Anointed," Rand's "Philosophy: Who Needs it," Cicero's "Republic," "Laws," "On Duties," Aquinas's Treatise on Laws, and C. S. Lewis "Abolition of Man."
A great read, regardless of your view of social correctness.