Human Goodness

Yi-Fu Tuan, Author . Univ. of Wisconsin $24.95 (232p) ISBN 978-0-299-22670-1

What unites Mandela, Mother Teresa, Mozart and Keats? According to philosopher Tuan (The Good Life ), it's not genius or even fame—it's that they were all preternaturally good people. Refuting the notion that “ 'good' is monotonously alike, whereas 'bad' or evil is endlessly colorful and various,” this remarkable book delights in the varieties and contradictions in goodness. Tuan examines what motivates kindness with an assortment of brief biographies, vignettes and examples from literature. Heroes of goodness are surprisingly often scientists and intellectuals—Schweitzer or Socrates—as fulfilling one's intellectual and physical potential is an essential component of Tuan's understanding of good behavior. As the age-old question goes: are humans naturally good or evil? Tuan finds them to be naturally empty, with the best choosing to fill that emptiness with what is most generous, grateful, vital and sensuous. In evaluating goodness, Tuan asks a simple question: “In his or her presence, does one feel oneself a better and more intelligent human being?” One might argue that readers will feel better and more intelligent for having read about these lives well-lived. (May)

Reviewed on: 03/24/2008
Release date: 04/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 246 pages - 978-0-299-22673-2
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