A Small Treatise on the Great Virtues: The Uses of Philosophy in Everyday Life

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Henry Holt and Company, Sep 1, 2002 - Philosophy - 352 pages
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An utterly original exploration of the timeless human virtues and how they apply to the way we live now, from a bold and dynamic French writer.

In this graceful, incisive book, writer-philosopher André Comte-Sponville reexamines the classic human virtues to help us under-stand "what we should do, who we should be, and how we should live." In the process, he gives us an entirely new perspective on the value, the relevance, and even the charm of the Western ethical tradition.

Drawing on thinkers from Aristotle to Simone Weil, by way of Aquinas, Kant, Rilke, Nietzsche, Spinoza, and Rawls, among others, Comte-Sponville elaborates on the qualities that constitute the essence and excellence of humankind. Starting with politeness -- almost a virtue -- and ing with love -- which transcs all morality -- A Small Treatise on the Great Virtues takes us on a tour of the eighteen essential virtues: fidelity, prudence, temperance, courage, justice, generosity, compassion, mercy, gratitude, humility, simplicity, tolerance, purity, gentleness, good faith, and even, surprisingly, humor.Sophisticated and lucid, full of wit and vivacity, this modestly titled yet immensely important work provides an indispensable guide to finding what is right and good in everyday life.

 

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A SMALL TREATISE ON THE GREAT VIRTUES: The Uses of Philosophy in Everyday Life

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An energized discussion of essential virtues for everyday living, by a young French philosopher. Comte-Sponville (Sorbonne), author of scholarly philosophy texts, targets a wider contemporary audience ... Read full review

Contents

Prologue
1
1 POLITENESS
7
2 FIDELITY
16
3 PRUDENCE
30
4 TEMPERANCE
38
5 COURAGE
44
6 JUSTICE
60
7 GENEROSITY
86
12 SIMPLICITY
149
13 TOLERANCE
157
14 PURITY
173
15 GENTLENESS
184
16 GOOD FAITH
195
17 HUMOR
211
18 LOVE
222
Notes
291

8 COMPASSION
103
9 MERCY
118
10 GRATITUDE
132
11 HUMILITY
140
Acknowledgments
341
Index
343
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About the author (2002)

André Comte-Sponville is one of the most important and popular of the new wave of young French philosophers. Now in his early forties, he teaches at the Sorbonne and is the author of five highly acclaimed scholarly books of classical philosophy. A Small Treatise on the Great Virtues spent fourteen months on the French bestseller list and is being translated into nineteen languages. He lives in Paris.

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