History of Western Morals

History of Western Morals

3.66 (6 ratings by Goodreads)
  • Hardback
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Product details

  • Hardback | 512 pages
  • 160.02 x 233.68 x 40.64mm | 907.18g
  • United Kingdom
  • 0151413339
  • 9780151413331

Review Text

The author of The Anatomy of Revolution, Ideas and Men, The Shaping of the Modern World and several other histories, examines in this extremely able, lucid, comprehensive and often witty study, the relation between ethics and conduct in western civilization from its beginnings in the Ancient Near East to twentieth century America. Tracing the development, through literature, of ideal moral types: the Homeric hero, Roman citizen-soldier-country gentleman of the Republic, the Christian saint, the Renaissance man of virtu, French philosophe of the eighteenth century to the American pioneer, he arrives at what has been for the past two centuries the main theme of western civilization: the coexistence and mutual interpenetration of two very different broad world views, the Christian and that of the Enlightenment. Though for both views the world of morals (values) is not identical with the world of sense perception (facts, data) the Enlightenment's new faith insisted that Reality is revealed to the human mind on the data of sense experience and "sought to substitute, for the transcendental God-determined Christian otherworldly heaven, a this-world transformed-by-human-reason 'heaven on earth'". The Twentieth Century he finds characterized, among the intellectual classes, by a pessimism about man's fate and an awareness of the relatively small part rationality plays in men's lives but though in The Problem of Moral Progress western man's record shows no moral progress comparable to material progress he is not willing to accept the picture of western decadence painted by the "prophets of doom". While it is not proven that human conduct in the West is sufficiently good to escape a Spenglerian extinction, historically, the last two centuries, he insists, have been centuries of a relatively high moral level, not of general decline. Certainly important to the student and historian. (Kirkus Reviews)
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