Ethical Wisdom: The Search for a Moral Life

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, May 24, 2011 - Social Science - 224 pages
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Since the days of the first primitive tribes, we have tried to determine why one man is good and another evil. Mark Matousek arrives at the answer in Ethical Wisdom.

Contrary to what we've been taught in our reason-obsessed culture, emotions are the bedrock of ethical life; without them, human beings cannot be empathic, moral, or good.

But how do we make the judgment call between self-interest and caring for others? What does being good really mean? Which parts of morality are biological, which ethical? When should instinct be trusted and when does it lead us into trouble? How can we know ourselves to be good amidst the hypocrisy, fears, and sabotaging appetites that pervade our two-sided natures?

Drawing on the latest scientific research and interviews with social scientists, spiritual leaders, ex-cons, altruists, and philosophers, Matousek examines morality from a scientific, sociological, and anthropological standpoint. Each chapter features a series of questions, readings, interviews, parables, and anecdotes that zoom in on a particular niche of moral inquiry, making this book both utilitarian and fun.

Ethical Wisdom is an insightful and important book for readers crisscrossing their own murky moral terrain.




From the Hardcover edition.
 

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Contents

The Laugh That
19
Mother and Child I
32
Emotional Intelligence I
70
Suckers Grudgers
77
Ought Does Not Exist in Nature I
92
The Mardi Gras Effect I
105
The GreenEyed Monsters I
119
Game Theory I 155
135
Part Four I The Higher a Monkey
173
The Dark Triad
180
Evil I
189
Playing with Power
198
The Passions
208
Part Five How Ought I to Live?
219
Tests Gznnes and Challenges 134
239
Acknowledgments I
253

UsVersus Them I
151
Donkeys and Elephants I
168

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About the author (2011)

MARK MATOUSEK is the author of two bestselling memoirs, Sex Death Enlightenment and The Boy He Left Behind. A contributing editor for O, The Oprah Magazine, he was a senior editor at Interview and has written for numerous publications, including The New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, Harper's Bazaar, Details, and AARP magazine. Matousek lives in New York City.


From the Hardcover edition.

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