The Risk of Being: What It Means to Be Good and Bad / Edition 1

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Overview

The Risk of Being attempts to forge a new language and a new way of reasoning about what it is like to be good and bad by focusing on existential phenomena that reveal what it means to be good and bad. It is thus a work that cannot be located among or compared to the more traditional theories of ethics or morality. What distinguishes this inquiry is not only the use of existential themes, such as outrage, temptation, and corruption, but the reasoning itself in an existential critique, which allows us to consider how and what we think as well as feel about being good and bad—the logos and pathos of these existential phenomena—and thus provides an access to the question about the reality of good and bad.

Recognizing that we have done wrong may induce frustrated responses, such as, "How could I have been so stupid?" or "Why was I so weak? " or even, "What has become of me? " These reactions, Gelven argues, point to folly, weakness, and corruption as ways of being bad, which can then be countered in phenomena such as judgment, courage, and integrity of character, as ways of being good. The analyses of these phenomena can reveal a great deal of existential understanding that no mere ethical or moral approach can offer. The emphasis is on understanding that "good" and "bad" are not mere axiological terms, but can refer to ways of existing.

By careful analysis, these ways can be forced to reveal the truth about goodness and badness. As Gelven's argument proceeds to show not only what it is "like" to be good and bad, but also what the reality of being good and bad must be, he offers new and often unorthodox insights into one of the great philosophical issues challenging the thinking mind.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
In this reflective meditation on ethical reality, Gelven philosophy, Northern Illinois U asserts that people are not good bad, but good bad, and that the fundamental presupposition for responsibility and moral ascription lies in our being fundamentally good and bad. He maintains that morals and ethics are distinct, and as a result, neither one is sufficient in itself for being good. No index. Paper edition unseen, $17.95. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780271017082
  • Publisher: Penn State University Press
  • Publication date: 9/26/1997
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 182
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Gelven is Presidential Research Professor of Philosophy at Northern Illinois University. He has published many books, two of them with Penn State Press, including Truth and Existence (1991) and War and Existence (1994).

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Pt. 1 Locating the question 1
Prelude: Raising the Question 3
1 Provoking Phenomena 12
Pt. 2 What it Means to be Bad 23
2 The Three Ways to Be Bad 25
3 The Foolish and the Silly 40
4 Temptation 49
5 Corruption 61
6 Punishment and Forgiveness 68
7 Can the Good Do What Is Bad? (Transition) 76
Pt. 3 What It Means to be Good 93
8 The First Way of Being Good: Judgment 95
9 The Second Way of Being Good: Moral Strength 104
10 The Most Troubling Moral Judgment (Transition) 114
11 The Third Way of Being Good: Character 121
Pt. 4 Confronting the Good 129
12 The Pathos of Being Good 131
13 The Logos of Being Good 144
14 The Reality of Being Good 156
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