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Moral Clarity:
A Guide for Grown-Up Idealists
Revised Edition
Susan Neiman

A New York Times Notable Book of 2008

Paperback | 2009 | $37.50 | £31.95 | ISBN: 9780691143897
480 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4
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For years, moral language has been the province of the Right, as the Left has consoled itself with rudderless pragmatism. In this profound and powerful book, Susan Neiman reclaims the vocabulary of morality--good and evil, heroism and nobility--as a lingua franca for the twenty-first century. In constructing a framework for taking responsible action on today's urgent questions, Neiman reaches back to the eighteenth century, retrieving a series of values--happiness, reason, reverence, and hope--held high by Enlightenment thinkers. In this thoroughly updated edition, Neiman reflects on how the moral language of the 2008 presidential campaign has opened up new political and cultural possibilities in America and beyond.


"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


"Susan Neiman's profound wisdom, courage and vision . . . [make her] a beacon of light and hope in our morally debased times."--Cornel West

"Morally and politically compelling--and a delight to read."--Michael Walzer

Table of Contents:

Introduction 1

PART ONE: Ideal and Real
Chapter 1: Hard Facts 29
Chapter 2: Ideals and Ideology 60
Chapter 3: Facing Gallows 93

PART TWO: Enlightenment Values
Chapter 4: Myths or Monsters 121
Chapter 5: Heaven and Earth 138
Chapter 6: Happiness 163
Chapter 7: Reason 189
Chapter 8: Reverence 226
Chapter 9: Hope 253

PART THREE: Good and Evil
Chapter 10: The Odyssey: An Excursion 299
Chapter 11: What about Evil? 334
Chapter 12: Enlightenment Heroes 381
Chapter 13: Moral Clarity 422

Acknowledgments 438
Bibliographical Notes 440
Bibliography 447
Permissions Acknowledgments 456
Index 457

Another Princeton book authored or coauthored by Susan Neiman:

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File created: 7/11/2017

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