Morality vs. moralism

Books for the dark night

Just when I was feeling despondent, I was asked to review a book by Luigi Giussani. His rhetoric both bamboozled and mesmerized me.


The Soul of the World, by Roger Scruton

Roger Scruton’s basic theme is this: “Science cannot tell who I am, let alone where, when, or how.” But I-you moral dialogue is not rooted in science.


Bystanders: Conscience and Complicity During the Holocaust, by Victoria J. Barnett

On a wall of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., is a quotation from Israeli historian Yahuda Bauer: "Thou shalt not be a victim. Thou shalt not be a perpetrator. Above all, thou shalt not be a bystander." At first glance, the "above all" is problematic. Why is it not better to be a passive witness to evil than an active agent?


Prodigal Nation: Moral Decline and Divine Punishment from New England to 9/11

Michelangelo and Rembrandt depicted him bearded and robed, seated and downcast, absorbed with inexpressible grief. His hand cradles his face, wrinkled from a lonely and thankless vocation. He was threatened, put on trial, imprisoned, publicly humiliated and thrown into a pit.

Loose morals

"War killed an average of over a hundred people an hour through the 20th century,” writes Jonathan Glover. One can only wonder what the 21st century will bring. Glover, director of the Centre of Medical Law and Ethics at King’s College in London, undertakes the momentous task of offering a moral history of the past century.