Human Dignity

Human Dignity

by George Kateb
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Kateb asserts that the defense of universal human rights requires two indispensable components: morality (as promoted or enforced by justice) and human dignity. For Kateb, morality and justice have sound theoretical underpinnings; human dignity, by virtue of its “existential” quality, lacks (but merits) its own theoretical framework. This he proceeds to…  See more details below

Overview

Kateb asserts that the defense of universal human rights requires two indispensable components: morality (as promoted or enforced by justice) and human dignity. For Kateb, morality and justice have sound theoretical underpinnings; human dignity, by virtue of its “existential” quality, lacks (but merits) its own theoretical framework. This he proceeds to establish with a critique of the writings of canonical Western political philosophers (Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseu, Mill, Emerson, Thoreau) and contemporary thinkers like Peter Singer and Thomas Nagel. The author argues that while morality compels just governments to prevent, reduce, or eliminate human suffering inasmuch as it is possible, people possess and are entitled to dignity by mere virtue of their “status” as human beings. Homo sapiens, he maintains, have a “stature,” manifest in the species's “great achievements,” that exceeds that of other creatures, even in (or especially in) the secular cosmos.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

David Bromwich
Kateb, like J.S. Mill, asks what objects of secular faith may candidly be used to supplant religious belief. Humanity is the answer he suggests—but humanity regarded not as the collective hero of progress or enlightenment, but as the most interesting part of nature for better and for worse: the part that holds up a mirror to the rest, even though the rest cannot recognize itself in the mirror. This is a disturbing, adventurous, and original-minded work.
Cornel West
[Kateb] is the last—that is, the first and only—thoroughgoing Emersonian in American political thought.
Globe and Mail - Clifford Orwin
[A] powerful and ambitious book. [Kateb] provides a sterling example of one of the most challenging of genres, the philosophic essay. He writes not just for other scholars but for anyone who loves to think. I won't mislead you by pretending that Human Dignity is easy and pleasant. It is demanding and pleasant, the pleasures being those of an argument that illuminates an important subject...No brief review could do justice to its bold amplitude, its intriguing twists, its problems and provocations.
The Australian - Richard King
[Kateb] suggests that the idea of dignity is essential to the idea of human rights. By this he means that human rights are in fact derived from human dignity, which is not some spurious moral precept but an integral part of the human condition. For Kateb, dignity is not, at root, a moral phenomenon but an existential one...It is refreshing to read a work of philosophy that tries to restore some pride to our rather jaded species...Human Dignity...attempts to give human beings their due, not in any spirit of self-congratulation but so that we may build a better life for all.
Choice - H. L. Cheek Jr.
In this lucid and highly readable "defense of human dignity" and rights, Kateb explicitly avoids the use of theological insights, preferring the autonomous individual and human reason as his guides...Kateb's critique of many prominent thinkers, including Peter Singer and J. S. Mill, and his provocative application of a theory of human dignity and rights to contemporary politics, are significant accomplishments.

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674059429
Publisher:
Harvard University Press
Publication date:
01/03/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
256
File size:
333 KB

What People are saying about this

David Bromwich
Kateb, like J. S. Mill, asks what objects of secular faith may candidly be used to supplant religious belief. Humanity is the answer he suggests--but humanity regarded not as the collective hero of progress or enlightenment, but as the most interesting part of nature for better and for worse: the part that holds up a mirror to the rest, even though the rest cannot recognize itself in the mirror. This is a disturbing, adventurous, and original-minded work.
David Bromwich, Yale University
Cornel West
[Kateb] is the last--that is, the first and only--thoroughgoing Emersonian in American political thought."

Cornel West, Princeton University

Meet the Author

George Kateb is William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics, Emeritus, Princeton University.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >