Cover image for Leading a worthy life : finding meaning in modern times
Leading a worthy life : finding meaning in modern times
Kass, Leon, author.
Personal Author:
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Encounter Books, 2017.

Physical Description:
401 pages ; 24 cm
Most American young people, like their ancestors, harbor desires for a worthy life: a life of meaning, a life that makes sense. But they are increasingly confused about what such a life might look like, and how they might, in the present age, be able to live one. With a once confident culture no longer offering authoritative guidance, the young are now at sea - regarding work, family, religion, and civic identity. The true, the good , and the beautiful have few defenders, and the higher cynicism mocks any innocent love of wisdom or love of country. We are supercompetent regarding efficiency and convenience; we are at a loss regarding what it's all for. Yet because the old orthodoxies have crumbled, our "interesting time" paradoxically offers genuine opportunities for renewal and growth. The old Socratic question "How to live?" suddenly commands serious attention. Young Americans, if liberated from the prevailing cynicism, will readily embrace weighty questions and undertake serious quests for a flourishing life. All they (and we) need is encouragement. This book provides that necessary encouragement by illuminating crucial - and still available - aspects of a worthy life, and by defending them against their enemies. With chapters on love, family, and friendship; human excellence and human dignity; teaching, learning, and truth; and the great human aspirations of Western civilization, it offers help to both secular and religious readers, to people who are looking on their own for meaning and to people who are looking to deepen what they have been taught or to square it with the spirit of our times. -- from dust jacket.
Introduction -- Finding meaning in modern times: An overview -- I. Love, family, and friendship: Some reflections on modern culture -- The end of courtship -- The higher sex education: Help from an old story (with Amy Kass) -- Virtually intimate: Is the Internet good for love and friendship? -- What's your name? (with Amy Kass) -- II. Human excellence and human dignity: Real and distorted -- Ageless bodies, happy souls: Biotechnology and the pursuit of happiness -- Human dignity: What it is and why it matters -- For the love of the game: The dignity of sport (with Eric Cohen) -- A dignified death and its enemies: Why doctors must not kill -- A more perfect human: The promise and peril of modern science -- III. In search of wisdom: Learning, teaching, and truth -- The aims of liberal education: On seeking truth -- Looking for an honest man: The case of humanities -- Science, religion, and the human future -- IV. The aspirations of humankind: Athens, Jerusalem, Gettysburg -- Human flourishing and human excellence: The truth(s) of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics -- The Ten Commandments -- The Gettysburg Address: Abraham Lincoln's refounding of the nation.
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