A Short Treatise On Great Virtues: The Uses of Philosophy in Everyday Life

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9780099437987: A Short Treatise On Great Virtues: The Uses of Philosophy in Everyday Life

Much of the history of philosophy is the history of ethics. From Plato to Sartre, the great philosophers have returned to the central ethical questions of how we are to live good lives; how is it appropriate and virtuous for us to behave, both to ourselves and to others? In addressing these questions, Andre Comte-Sponville returns to the mainstream of much of the Western philosophical tradition with an utterly original exploration of the timeless human virtues. A Short Treatise on the Great Virtues takes as its starting point eighteen human virtues to help us understand 'what we should do, who we should be, and how we should live'. Comte-Sponville offers the reader both a thoughtful and accessible introduction to the history of Western ethics and an exploration of the ways in which the views and claims of the great philosophers can apply - and fail to apply - to our lives today.

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Picking up on the post-September 11, 2001, zeitgeist, André Comte-Sponville's international bestseller A Short Treatise on the Great Virtues, originally published in 1995, provides a timely consideration of the eternal dilemmas of what we should be and how we should live.

Along with the four classical cardinal virtues--justice, courage, prudence and temperance--and one of the Christian three--charity, as an ingredient of love--Comte-Sponville, a professor at the Sorbonne, adds 13 of his own to produce an armoury of resolutions for the less-than-perfect among us.

Within his virtuous periodic table it is often in combination that his choices prove most dynamic: he contends that generosity enjoined with mercy becomes leniency; with gentleness it produces kindness. Prudence becomes a precondition to virtue, while compassion is the most universal virtue, denoting what we recognise as humanity. Gratitude becomes the endgame of mourning or loss, while humour, perhaps a surprising inclusion, exists as the positive, joyous sibling of the negatively-ioned irony.

Drawing on Woody Allen and Freud for his exploration of humour, he himself invests his brisk, unstuffy theorising with a drollness uncharacteristic of his discipline (Nietzsche is hand-bagged as "right about everything and wrong about everything"). He integrates the thoughts of the likes of Pascal, Kant, Spinoza, Jankélévitch and Montaigne, to whose intimate style he most aspires, into his own sprucely thesis.

More than mere intellectual massage, A Short Treatise on the Great Virtues consistently draws its examples and moral conundrums from the Second World War, placing abstract philosophical discourse within an empirical framework of reference. In addition, his discussions of courage, despair, tolerance and mercy convey an urgent sense of the present in which our contemporary table-talk still engages with the most formative moral writers. It concludes with a magnificently persuasive and lengthy celebration of perhaps the greatest catch-all virtue known to us: love. As with Alain de Botton's Consolations of Philosophy and Jostein Gaarder's Sophie's World, Comte-Sponville's book is flatteringly inclusive, deeply enjoyable and makes a desirable virtue out of being philosophical. --David Vincent

Review:

"Scandalously original; this book is a quest for wisdom" (Tzetan Todorov)

"The great strength of this book is that it removes philosophy from abstract theorizing and deposits it where it belongs: in our daily lives and the world around us" (Mail on Sunday)

"Clearly and often beautifully written... Comte-Sponville cleaves to the aim set out in his subtitle, which is to suggest that philosophy may aid us in the conduct of everyday affairs" (John Banville Irish Times)

"That rare thing: a work of philosophy that is both readable and good... Its popularity is easy to understand... Precise, scholastic even, yet also passionate" (New Statesman)

"A superior book for the layman... If only all Comte-Sponville's countrymen wrote as lucidly as he... A wonderful book that neatly turns the moral maze into a system of converging corridors" (Spectator)

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Book Description Vintage Publishing, United Kingdom, 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 192 x 128 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. Much of the history of philosophy is the history of ethics. From Plato to Sartre, the great philosophers have returned to the central ethical questions of how we are to live good lives; how is it appropriate and virtuous for us to behave, both to ourselves and to others? In addressing these questions, Andre Comte-Sponville returns to the mainstream of much of the Western philosophical tradition with an utterly original exploration of the timeless human virtues. A Short Treatise on the Great Virtues takes as its starting point eighteen human virtues to help us understand what we should do, who we should be, and how we should live . Comte-Sponville offers the reader both a thoughtful and accessible introduction to the history of Western ethics and an exploration of the ways in which the views and claims of the great philosophers can apply - and fail to apply - to our lives today. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9780099437987

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Book Description Vintage Publishing, United Kingdom, 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 192 x 128 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. Much of the history of philosophy is the history of ethics. From Plato to Sartre, the great philosophers have returned to the central ethical questions of how we are to live good lives; how is it appropriate and virtuous for us to behave, both to ourselves and to others? In addressing these questions, Andre Comte-Sponville returns to the mainstream of much of the Western philosophical tradition with an utterly original exploration of the timeless human virtues. A Short Treatise on the Great Virtues takes as its starting point eighteen human virtues to help us understand what we should do, who we should be, and how we should live . Comte-Sponville offers the reader both a thoughtful and accessible introduction to the history of Western ethics and an exploration of the ways in which the views and claims of the great philosophers can apply - and fail to apply - to our lives today. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9780099437987

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Book Description Vintage Publishing. Paperback. Book Condition: new. BRAND NEW, A Short Treatise on Great Virtues: The Uses of Philosophy in Everyday Life, Andre Comte-Sponville, Much of the history of philosophy is the history of ethics. From Plato to Sartre, the great philosophers have returned to the central ethical questions of how we are to live good lives; how is it appropriate and virtuous for us to behave, both to ourselves and to others? In addressing these questions, Andre Comte-Sponville returns to the mainstream of much of the Western philosophical tradition with an utterly original exploration of the timeless human virtues. A Short Treatise on the Great Virtues takes as its starting point eighteen human virtues to help us understand 'what we should do, who we should be, and how we should live'. Comte-Sponville offers the reader both a thoughtful and accessible introduction to the history of Western ethics and an exploration of the ways in which the views and claims of the great philosophers can apply - and fail to apply - to our lives today. Bookseller Inventory # B9780099437987

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Book Description Vintage. Book Condition: New. 2003. Paperback. From Plato to Satre, the great philosophers have returned to the central ethical questions of how we are to live good lives? This work explains eighteen human virtues ranging from politeness, prudence and humour to compassion, tolerance and love to help us understand what we should do, who we should be, and how we should live. Num Pages: 368 pages. BIC Classification: HPCF; HPQ. Category: (G) General (US: Trade); (P) Professional & Vocational; (UP) Postgraduate, Research & Scholarly; (UU) Undergraduate. Dimension: 198 x 131 x 23. Weight in Grams: 262. . . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. Bookseller Inventory # V9780099437987

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Book Description Vintage, 2003. Book Condition: New. 2003. Paperback. From Plato to Satre, the great philosophers have returned to the central ethical questions of how we are to live good lives? This work explains eighteen human virtues ranging from politeness, prudence and humour to compassion, tolerance and love to help us understand what we should do, who we should be, and how we should live. Num Pages: 368 pages. BIC Classification: HPCF; HPQ. Category: (G) General (US: Trade); (P) Professional & Vocational; (UP) Postgraduate, Research & Scholarly; (UU) Undergraduate. Dimension: 198 x 131 x 23. Weight in Grams: 262. . . . . . . Bookseller Inventory # V9780099437987

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