- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press (December 5, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195157958
- ISBN-13: 978-0195157956
- Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.6 x 5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #916,248 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Reverence: Renewing a Forgotten Virtue
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From Publishers Weekly
What is the difference between reverence and faith? Is reverence supposed to take the place of faith or belief? Does reverence belong to religion? In this simple, and often simplistic, little book, Woodruff, who teaches humanities at the University of Texas at Austin, probes the meaning of reverence and tries to recover it as an essential component of a moral life. He defines reverence very simply as "the well-developed capacity to have the feelings of awe, respect, and shame when these are the right feelings to have." In an admirable historical and ideological survey, he traces the roots of reverence to Greek and Confucian ideals. Yet contemporary society seems to have lost this capacity for reverence, a loss that is reflected in disdain for the government, destruction of the environment and disrespect for rules and rituals. How can we recover reverence and act more reverently? Taking a cue from Aristotle, Woodruff says that we become reverent by doing reverent things. Such a circular argument is not the book's only flaw. Woodruff covers his subject in the first 15 pages, demonstrating that it would have been more appropriate as a lengthy journal article. Although he offers a variety of different approaches to the same subject, Woodruff cannot overcome a deadening sense of repetition (e.g., reminding us on almost every other page that reverence and respect are not synonymous), ultimately defeating his valiant efforts to rehabilitate reverence for today.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Philosopher Woodruff had an epiphany: reverence, "the virtue that keeps human beings from trying to act like gods," has been forgotten in our society. People practice reverence, but without understanding or valuing it. To rekindle awareness of the virtue that "lies behind civility and all the graces that make life in society bearable and pleasant," Woodruff defines reverence and explains how it makes community life possible. Drawing on two classic traditions, ancient Greek philosophy and Confucianism, as well as the poetry of Tennyson, Yeats, and Larkin, Woodruff carefully separates reverence--the sense of a greater, transcendent force, the feeling of awe we feel in the presence of beauty--from faith, showing how tyranny occurs when reverence breaks down. Like courage, reverence is not tied to any one belief system, and, as Woodruff so eloquently argues, "habits of reverence" are essential to every sphere of life, from education to politics to land management to love. Clarion and worthy, Woodruff's treatise will give readers their own "Eureka!" moments and, hopefully, create a ripple effect. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
The author gives many other examples of reverence or the absence thereof, citing references in both ancient China and ancient Greece as well as calling up the Victorian poet Tennyson.
I bought this book after having seen Mr. Woodruff discussing reverence in an interview by Bill Moyers. I must say that while the book is both thought provoking and thoughtful, it is far too long. The author repeats himself over and over. I could have gotten the point from a chapter or two on the subject in a book of essays or in a long journal article.
Having said that, I was so taken by Mr. Woodruff's comments on The Iliad that I ordered the translation he cites to reread this work for the first time in many years.
Most recent customer reviews
find this work admirable in its intent and detail.Read more
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