Perfection: Coming to Terms with Being Human

Overview


In a masterful survey of the history of the idea of human perfection, prize-winning author and noted rhetorician Michael J. Hyde leads a fascinating excursion through Western philosophy, religion, science, and art. Eloquently and engagingly he delves the canon of Western thought, drawing on figures from St. Augustine and John Rawls to Leonardo da Vinci and David Hume to Kenneth Burke and Mary Shelley. On the journey, Hyde expounds on the very notion and "Otherness" of God, the empirical and ontological workings ...
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Overview


In a masterful survey of the history of the idea of human perfection, prize-winning author and noted rhetorician Michael J. Hyde leads a fascinating excursion through Western philosophy, religion, science, and art. Eloquently and engagingly he delves the canon of Western thought, drawing on figures from St. Augustine and John Rawls to Leonardo da Vinci and David Hume to Kenneth Burke and Mary Shelley. On the journey, Hyde expounds on the very notion and "Otherness" of God, the empirical and ontological workings of daily existence, the development of reason, and the bounds of beauty. In the end, he ponders the consequences of the perfection-driven impulse of medical science and considers the implications of the bourgeoning rhetoric of "our posthuman future." It is nothing short of a triumphant examination of why we humans are challenged to live a life of significant insignificance.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"An expansive and daring book about the complexity of the human project, its possibilities, its limitations, and its inscrutable ambiguity."

--Walter Brueggeman, Professor Emeritus, Columbia Theological Seminary

Library Journal
Hyde (communication ethics, Wake Forest Univ.) argues that humans "embody a metaphysical desire for perfection," and he aims to show this by reviewing the pertinent thinking of a very large number of writers, from ancient history to the present, in philosophy, religion, science, and the arts—in a sense, the entire "Western canon." His review of the pertinent thinking of the included writers is interesting, engaging, and informative in a way that draws the reader in. To flesh out his inquiry, Hyde goes into detail in two "case studies" that illustrate the metaphysical desire for perfection: "The Rhetorical Situation of Terri Schiavo" and the recent motion picture As Good as It Gets. VERDICT This book should be of interest to a large readership from scholars to lay readers; highly recommended for philosophy and cultural studies collections in most libraries.—Leon H. Brody, Falls Church, VA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781602582446
  • Publisher: Baylor University Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/2010
  • Pages: 322
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author


Michael J. Hyde is University Distinguished Professor of Communication Ethics in the Department of Communication and is on the faculty of the Program for Bioethics, Health and Society in the School of Medicine, Wake Forest University. He is the author of The Life-Giving Gift of Acknowledgment, The Ethos of Rhetoric, and award-winning The Call of Conscience. He and his wife live in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
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Read an Excerpt

"There is something 'heavenly' about our definition of health. For where but heaven (at least as this place is commonly understood in Western religious traditions) does such a state forever exist? The story I have to tell about perfection encourages readers to ponder this question and a host of related ones, although not primarily for religious reasons. Rather, my story is about how we have been instructed throughout history to come to terms with perfection. This activity involves us in the educational and rhetorical process of learning how to formulate and express in the most effective (perfect) way possible our understanding of the phenomenon's presence and significance in our everyday lives. The history and rhetoric I examine illustrate how it is essential to our well-being. And I write in the belief that the relationship between perfection and human existence is too important to be taken for granted, overlooked, or forgotten."
—adapted from the Introduction

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