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Customer Review

on September 18, 2004
It sounds like a reference book, but the first 89 pages alone is worth the purchase. Who would have guessed that Confucianists, Taoists, Hindus, Buddhists, Christans, Jews, Greeks, Charlemange, Ben Franklin and The Boy Scouts of America could reach a consensus on the definition of "good character"? Well, no one of course. However, now that all the key characters are history (OK--but it many not be long for the Scouts if they aren't careful), these authors have rather brilliantly assessed the central writings of each source and created a credible structure of 6 key virtues that are made up of a total of 24 subcomponents they call "strengths" that have been recognized across a span of 2500 years and many cultures. They tie this into youth development research, the history of philosophy, evolutionary psychology and a fascinating analysis of the rise and fall and rise again of the concept of "character" in psychology. Then--did you ever want to learn more about the virtue of "Wisdom"--such as its history, the measurement techniques, the research--this is the place to read about it. How about "Justice"? Wow, this is fascinating reading because these psychologists carry everything from history through various disciplines down to measurement. If you dont' think this is new, consider the fact that psychologists have studied "insanity" for years. We can tell you if you are very insane, somewhat insane or have no symptoms. What is the positive half of that dimension? You want yourself and your children and those around you to be far far away from merely lacking symptoms--you want positive mental health. Fascinating topic. You want to read original sources? This book has 117 pages of references. That is about 2000 books and articles. Why not be lazy and read this well-written compliation of this vast literature that has been assembled and reviewed by a dedicated band of researchers. This book won't replace Dr. Spock for the masses, but gives some excellent insights that can reframe how you the voter and our esteemed government policy wonks approach education and child development. For the avid research psychologist, there are many provocative research ideas here that the authors claim they will work on someday. I am certain that they are still tired from writing the book, so get busy!
239 helpful votes
240 helpful votes
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