Monday, March 8, 2010

Taking Ourselves Seriously and Getting it Right

By Harry G. Frankfurt; edited by Debra Satz
online access from ebrary
check holdings in CityU Library Catalogue

Harry G. Frankfurt begins his inquiry by asking, “What is it about human beings that makes it possible for us to take ourselves seriously?” Based on The Tanner Lectures in Moral Philosophy, Taking Ourselves Seriously and Getting It Right delves into this provocative and original question.
The author maintains that taking ourselves seriously presupposes an inward-directed, reflexive oversight that enables us to focus our attention directly upon ourselves, and “[it] means that we are not prepared to accept ourselves just as we come. We want our thoughts, our feelings, our choices, and our behavior to make sense. We are not satisfied to think that our ideas are formed haphazardly, or that our actions are driven by transient and opaque impulses or by mindless decisions. We need to direct ourselves—or at any rate to believe that we are directing ourselves—in thoughtful conformity to stable and appropriate norms. We want to get things right.”
The essays delineate two features that have a critical role to play in this: our rationality, and our ability to love …
(From the back of the front cover)

In his Tanner lectures, Harry Frankfurt continues his exploration of the nature of human agency and practical reasoning. Love, and other “volitional necessities”—things about which we cannot help caring—anchor us in the world and provide us with ends for our actions. Without love, or other kinds of volitionally necessary caring, we would not have an answer to the fundamental question of how we should live. This is a very important essay, written by a first-class philosophical mind, and animated by a humane outlook. It will be of interest not only to philosophers, but also to all those who look to understand the springs of human action.
(From the back cover by Debra Satz)

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