Taking Ourselves Seriously and Getting It Right

Paperback (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from BN.com
Buy Used
Buy Used from BN.com
(Save 34%)
Item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging.
Condition: Used – Good details
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $3.99
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 77%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (17) from $3.99   
  • New (8) from $10.25   
  • Used (9) from $3.99   


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. Frankfurt incisively explores the roles of reason and of love in our active lives, and considers the relation between these two motivating forces of our actions. The argument is that the authority of practical reason is less fundamental than the authority of love. Love, as the author defines it, is a volitional matter, that is, it consists in what we are actually committed to caring about. Frankfurt adds that "The object of love can be almost anything—a life, a quality of experience, a person, a group, a moral ideal, a nonmoral ideal, a tradition, whatever." However, these objects and ideals are difficult to comprehend and often in conflict with each other. Moral principles play an important supporting role in this process as they help us develop and elucidate a vision that inspires our love.

The first section of the book consists of the two lectures, which are entitled "Taking Ourselves Seriously" and "Getting It Right." The second section consists of comments in response by Christine M. Korsgaard, Michael E. Bratman, and Meir Dan-Cohen. The book includes a preface by Debra Satz.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Frankfurt's argument is intelligent, sophisticated, and thooughtful."—CHOICE

"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." —Debra Satz, Stanford University

"Frankfurt delves into the ideals of rationality and love, compares the two, and declares love the winner in defining self-commitment to our actions (which is "getting it right"). These arguments are related in superbly written prose and stand well on their own...The commentary, likewise, is well written and presents the reader with an enhanced framework and relevant, thought-provoking objections. "—Library Journal

"This wise and engaging little book deals with issues that are profoundly important to us as human beings. Frankfurt effortlessly weaves together his thoughts on love, agency, and practical reason...Scholars interested in Frankfurt, or the philosophical issues discussed in his lectures, will enjoy readin this book." —Philosophy in Review/Comptes Rendus Philosophiques

Library Journal
This volume is based on two 2004 lectures delivered at Stanford University by Frankfurt (philosophy, emeritus, Princeton Univ.; On Bullshit) and ends with commentary by Christine M. Korsgaard (philosophy, Harvard), Michael E. Bratman (philosophy, Stanford), and Meir Dan-Cohen (law, Univ. of California-Berkeley). Essentially, the lectures investigate humans' ability to reflect on themselves and their actions and use found insights to "take ourselves seriously." Frankfurt delves into the ideals of rationality and love, compares the two, and declares love the winner in defining self-commitment to our actions (which is "getting it right"). These arguments are related in superbly written prose and stand well on their own, though more notes would have been welcome. The commentary, likewise, is well written and presents the reader with an enhanced framework and relevant, thought-provoking objections. Highly recommended for academic and most public libraries. Jason Moore, Madison Cty. Lib. Syst., MS Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780804752985
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press
  • Publication date: 9/18/2006
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 136
  • Sales rank: 1,467,193
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Harry G. Frankfurt is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Princeton University. He is author of the best-selling book, On Bullshit (2005). His other publications include The Reasons of Love (2004) and Necessity, Volition, and Love (1999).

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)