A Comprehensive History of Western Ethics: What Do We Believe?
Prometheus Books, 1997 - Philosophy - 569 pages
Professor Warren Ashby speaks both to university students in history and ethics and, more generally, to those individuals interested in but perplexed by their own moral values as they attempt to create satisfying lives in an increasingly complex world.
Ashby includes the great thinkers and periods that have shaped Western ethics: the Greeks, the Hebrew prophets, the Roman Stoics, St. Augustine, the medieval ethicists, the Renaissance and Reformation, the Enlightenment, the Romantics, and the radical revolutions of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In the period from 1850 to 1920, Ashby notes, the transformations wrought by the four great modern thinkers - Darwim, Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud - both extended and significantly challenged the traditional core beliefs of the West and, as a result, bestowed upon us a profound moral crisis, one that we have not yet successfully met. Consequently, as we stand at the brink of the twenty-first century, with its further technological breakthroughs and social upheavals, how will we deal with the moral uncertainties that await us? In his final chapter Ashby contends that while remaining alive to our Western ethical heritage, we will have no choice but to confront its basic presuppositions as we move into a more pluralistic society, for he asserts that the ideology of the future cannot be exclusively Western; future history cannot be purely Western history. So, while this history of ethics cannot tell us how to live, it can offer to the reader what is prerequisite to a more satisfying life: an insightful and inclusive history of where our own ethical beliefs have come from and a sense of the challenges that await us all.
A Comprehensive History of Western Ethics: What Do We Belive? embraces all who are concerned with expanding human rights, finding new ways to think about moral experience, and discovering an ethical perspective appropriate to their own lives.
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Foreword by W Allen Ashby
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