Doing the Right Thing: Cultivating Your Moral Intelligence

Aaron Hass, Author, Aaron Haas, Author
Aaron Hass, Author, Aaron Haas, Author Atria Books $24 (240p) ISBN 978-0-671-01512-1
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Preachy books on self-improvement may be commonplace, but this one offers uncommonly sober, sound moral guidelines drawn from the author's experiences in clinical practice and fatherhood. On the subject of conscientious behavior, Hass (The Aftermath, etc.), a professor of psychology at California State and an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, outlines how and why to follow the Golden Rule and to practice greater sensitivity, fairness, empathy and kindness when dealing with friends and strangers alike. Hass urges his reader to cultivate moral sensitivity: ""I want you to be able to analyze a complex situation and answer the question, `What's the right thing to do?'"" Occasionally redundant though rarely patronizing, Hass imparts moral wisdom in straightforward, clear prose. The book is well organized and replete with helpful references to everyday encounters. Hass draws liberally on anecdotes from philosophical, religious and literary sources ranging from Kant to Rabbi Harold Kushner. Repeatedly, he insists that principled behavior is a societal obligation. Furthermore, he claims, a shared sense of rectitude can make the world a better place. Toward the end, Hass emphasizes the importance of exercising one's ""moral muscle,"" arguing that ethical behavior must be practiced. With that in mind, 30 short moral dilemmas are provided for group discussion or private consideration. Written in the style of The Book of Questions, these ethical puzzles are thought-provoking if not wholly original. The book's last section comprises similar conundrums, this time aimed at young children and adolescents. In a market saturated with shallow tomes on ""family values,"" this is a serious sermon worth reading. Editor, Julie Rubenstein; agent, Richard Pine. Author tour. (July)
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