The widely respected social philosopher embarks on his most gripping and broadly appealing work, asking the ultimate question of human nature: Why do we repeatedly violate our most deeply held values and beliefs?

After nearly forty years of weighing humanity's deepest dilemmas-working in settings ranging from university and high school classrooms to corporate offices and ...
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Why Can't We Be Good?

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The widely respected social philosopher embarks on his most gripping and broadly appealing work, asking the ultimate question of human nature: Why do we repeatedly violate our most deeply held values and beliefs?

After nearly forty years of weighing humanity's deepest dilemmas-working in settings ranging from university and high school classrooms to corporate offices and hospitals-bestselling author, philosopher, and religious scholar Jacob Needleman presents the most urgent, deeply felt, and widely accessible work of his career.

In Why Can't We Be Good? Needleman identifies the core problem that therapists and social philosophers fail to see. He depicts the individual human as a being who knows what is good, yet who remains mysteriously helpless to innerly adopt the ethical, moral, and religious ideas that are bequeathed to him.
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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
"As usual Jacob Needleman gets to the heart of the matter with eloquence and efficiency. Perhaps it would be better to say the dark heart of the matter, for we find ourselves beset with trials and tribulations of our own shameful making. How to get out? Here is the road map-with a beautiful speck of light at the end of a very difficult path. This is Needleman's best work." -Ken Burns "An immensely learned man who is unembarrassed by the big questions that many of his fellow philosophers prefer to dodge." -Chicago Tribune "This book doesn't offer quick fixes or shortcuts, but it does present a way for readers attempting to follow an ethical, spiritual path to recognize, understand, and assimilate their human limitations." -New Age Retailer
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781440629150
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/1/2007
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 1,375,470
  • File size: 340 KB

Meet the Author

The acclaimed author of The American Soul, Why Can’t We Be Good? and Money and the Meaning of Life, Jacob Needleman is Professor of Philosophy at San Francisco State University, and former Director of the Center for the Study of New Religions at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley. He lives in Oakland, CA.
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Table of Contents

The One Question     1
The First Step     3
The World of Ideas     5
Ideas Alone Are Not Enough     6
But Ideas Are the First Step     7
The Good Universe     10
The Teacher Waits     14
Ideas Live in People     16
God Is One     17
The Pupil Waits     18
One God; Two Hearts     19
The Problem of Evil     20
The Secret of Socrates or Thinking Together as a Work of Love     24
Enter Socrates     26
The Secret of Socrates     27
The Taste of Thinking     28
The Mountain of Plato     30
The Missing Page     32
Freedom from Answers     38
Bread and Stone     40
The Ethics of Communal Thought     43
The Transformation of the Question     44
The World of Appearances     46
Two Halves of One Great Idea     49
The Real World Can Be Known Only by the Real Self     50
The Question of the Heart Is a Moral Demand     50
The Authentic Teacher and the Authentic Seeker     52
A Kind of Love     55
The White Dove     58
A Rehearsal for Morality     59
Life Without Ethics?     60
Turtles     63
Passion and Attention     65
The Shock of the Question     67
The Moral Power of Listening     70
A Movement Toward Conscience     73
Something Exceedingly Fine     76
Love and Listening     77
Between Wonder and Despair     82
On the Way to Good and Evil     91
On the Meaning of the Human Body     95
The Socratic Threshold     97
Interlude: The Garment of the Buddha     100
Glimpses     101
"Knowledge" and Knowledge     103
A New Kind of Body     106
Intermediate Morality     107
The Ethics of Attention     110
Our World and Our Life     110
The Fountain of All That Is Good     112
This New Power of the Mind     114
Real Philosophy     115
The "Least Powerful" Man in the World     116
On the Measure of Friendship     118
An Invitation     120
"Oh, I Forgot!"     124
Dr. Kinder's Misunderstanding     125
Mary Adijian's Discovery      128
The Ethics of Attention II     132
Why Do Moral Codes Fail?     136
I Am My Attention     138
The First Obligation of Man     140
The Great Aim of Education     141
The Two Moralities     142
The Log-off Club     145
The Tragedy of Attention     148
What Is Evil? And Why Does Evil Exist?     148
The Anguish of Fred Prozi     152
The Face of Fred Prozi     156
At the Heart of What We Call Ethics     159
The Reconstruction of Mr. Prozi     160
Awakening to Darkness, or the Meaning of Silence     163
Sacred Silence     167
What Is Taken Away? What Is Given?     169
The Essential     175
Not This, Not That     178
The Action of the Guide     179
Words Turn Back     180
Moral Mysticism     180
The Freedom That Leads to Freedom     182
The Ethics of the Lesser Morality     191
The Duty That Is at the Heart of Duty     192
We Are Not Yet Man     194
The Two Truths That Are Errors     198
A Dangerous Question     201
The Greatest Idea in the World     205
Hillel the Elder and the Idea of the Universal Moral Law     205
The Life of Hillel     208
What Did Hillel Find?     212
The Seed and the Fruit of All That is Good     216
Another Dimension of Love     217
If I Am Not for Myself, Who Will Be for Me?     221
And If I Am for Myself Alone, What Am I?     225
The Hidden Bridge: An Essential Digression     227
The Seed and the Fruit of Inner Morality     228
If Not Now, When?     230
The Metaphysics of Morality     236
The Doctrine of Angels and the Obligation Offered to Man     239
The Ethical Animal and the Meaning of Our Freedom     243
A Meditation on Crossing the Socratic Threshold     248
The Great Unknown     249
The Birth of the Human     251
A Transforming Fire     252
The Shock of Love     255
A Kind of Summation: Why Cant We be Good?     257
For Further Reading     265
Notes     275
Index     279
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