Life Examined: Foundational Themes in Ethical and Socio-Political Thought
  • Publication Date: August 30, 2019
  • ISBN: 9781554813841 / 1554813840
  • 700 pages; 7¾" x 9¼"
Exam Copy

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Life Examined: Foundational Themes in Ethical and Socio-Political Thought

  • Publication Date: August 30, 2019
  • ISBN: 9781554813841 / 1554813840
  • 700 pages; 7¾" x 9¼"

Life Examined is an anthology of carefully edited readings designed to serve as an introduction to many of the fundamental concepts of ethical and socio-political thought. It includes primary sources from a variety of traditions, with selections that range chronologically from ancient times through to the present day. These readings have been thoughtfully selected, edited, and contextualized to provide students with opportunities to sharpen their capacities for critical and theoretical reflection. The book begins with three key texts that frame the historical discourse. Subsequent chapters are organized around ethical themes and theoretical questions that have animated debates throughout the ages, including the nature of practical rationality, scientific reasoning, wisdom, the law, equality, power, violence, and identity.

General Introduction

Unit I: Self-Examination, Individual and Collective

Chapter 1: Ethical Crises, Self-examination and Citizenship

  • 1.1 Chapter Introduction
  • 1.2 Plato: Apology of Socrates; Crito
  • 1.3 Immanuel Kant: “What is Enlightenment?”
  • 1.4 Naomi Klein: excerpts from This Changes Everything
  • 1.5 Review Questions
  • 1.6 Further Reading

Unit II: Rationality, Knowledge, and Normative Inquiry

Chapter 2: Critical Judgement, Scientific Reasoning, and Modes of Argumentation

  • 2.1 Chapter Introduction
  • 2.2 Plato (428 – 363 BCE): excerpt from Meno 81e-86b
  • 2.3 Aristotle (384 – 322 BCE): excerpts from Metaphysics, Physics, and Posterior Analytics
  • 2.4 Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626): excerpts from Novum Organum (The New Organon)
  • 2.5 Galileo Galilei (1564 – 1642): excerpts from The Assayer and “Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina”
  • 2.6 Isaac Newton (1643 – 1727): excepts from Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy)
  • 2.7 Charles Darwin (1809 – 1882): excerpts from The Origin of Species
  • 2.8 Svante Arrhenius (1859 – 1927): excerpt from “On the Influence of Carbonic Acid in the Air upon the Temperature of the Ground”
  • 2.9 Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955): excerpts from The Meaning of Relativity
  • 2.10 Karl Popper (1904 – 1994): excerpts from “The Logic and Evolution of Scientific Theory”
  • 2.11 Thomas Kuhn (1922 – 1996): excerpts from The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
  • 2.12 Review Questions
  • 2.13 Further Reading

Chapter 3: Wisdom, Enlightenment and the Uncertainty of Human Life

  • 3.1 Chapter Introduction
  • 3.2 Siddhartha Gautama (563 – 483 BCE, Buddhism): “First Sermon at Benares,” “The Synopsis of Truth,” “The Fool,” “The Wise Man,” “The Path”
  • 3.3 Confucius (551 – 478 BCE): Excerpts from The Analects
  • 3.4 Solomon (Tenth Century BCE): Excerpts from Proverbs
  • 3.5 Aristotle (384 – 322 BCE): Excerpts from Nicomachean Ethics, Books I and VI
  • 3.6 Cleanthes (331 – 232 BCE, Stoicism): “Hymn to Zeus”
  • 3.7 Epicurus (341 – 271 BCE): “Letter to Menoeceus”
  • 3.8 Sextus Empiricus (160 – 210, Skepticism): excerpts from Outlines of Pyrrhonism
  • 3.9 St Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274): Excepts from The Summary against the Gentiles and Summary of Theology
  • 3.10 Zar’a Yaqob (1599 – 1692): Excerpts from Treatise of Zar’a Yaqob
  • 3.11 David Hume (1711 – 1776): Excerpts from A Treatise of Human Nature
  • 3.12 Edmund Burke (1729 – 1797): Excerpts from Reflections on the Revolution in France
  • 3.13 Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 – 1900): Excerpts from Beyond Good and Evil and Joyful Wisdom
  • 3.14 Albert Camus (1913 – 1960): excerpt from The Myth of Sisyphus
  • 3.15 Review Questions
  • 3.16 Further Reading

Chapter 4: Laws, Rules, and Duties

  • 4.1 Chapter Introduction
  • 4.2 Confucius (551 – 478 BCE): excerpts from the Analects
  • 4.3 Herodotus (490 – 425 BCE): excerpt from The History of Herodotus, Book 3. 38
  • 4.4 Skepticism: Sextus Empiricus, Diogenes Laertius, Philo Judaeus
  • 4.5 Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274): excepts from Summary of Theology
  • 4.6 Thomas Hobbes (1588 – 1679): excerpts from Leviathan
  • 4.7 Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu (1689 – 1755): excerpts from The Spirit of the Laws
  • 4.8 Immanuel Kant (1724 – 1804): excerpts from Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals
  • 4.9 Edmund Burke (1729 – 1797): Excerpts from Reflections on the Revolution in France
  • 4.10 Friedrich Nietzsche: excerpts from Human, All Too Human and Beyond Good and Evil
  • 4.11 excerpts from Nuremberg Laws (1935, German legislation)
  • 4.12 excerpts from UN Declaration of Human Rights
  • 4.13 Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 – 1968): Excerpts from “Letter from the Birmingham City Jail”
  • 4.14 Review Questions
  • 4.15 Further Reading

Chapter 5: Property, Equality, and Economics

  • 5.1 Chapter Introduction
  • 5.2 Aristotle (384 – 322 BCE): excerpts from Politics I
  • 5.3 John Locke (1632 – 1704): excerpts from Second Treatise on Government
  • 5.4 Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712 – 1778): Excerpt from A Discourse Upon The Origin And The Foundation Of The Inequality Among Mankind
  • 5.5 Adam Smith (1723 – 1790): excerpts from The Wealth of Nations
  • 5.6 Alexis de Tocqueville (1805 – 1859): excerpts from Democracy in America
  • 5.7 Marxism: Karl Marx (1818 – 1883) and Friedrich Engels (1820-1893), excerpts from Marx and Engels’s Communist Manifesto and Marx’s Kapital
  • 5.8 David Harvey (b. 1935): excerpts from A Brief History of Neoliberalism
  • 5.9 Review Questions
  • 5.10 Further Reading

Unit III: Power, Violence, and Political Ethics

Chapter 6: Propaganda and Power

  • 6.1 Chapter Introduction
  • 6.2 Confucius (551 – 478 BCE): Excerpts from The Analects
  • 6.3 Plato (427 – 347 BCE): excerpt from Gorgias and Phaedrus
  • 6.4 Aristotle (384 – 322 BCE): excerpts from Rhetoric
  • 6.5 Niccolò Machiavelli (1469 – 1527): Excerpts from The Prince
  • 6.6 John Stuart Mill (1806 – 1873): excerpts from On Liberty
  • 6.7 Michel Foucault (1926 – 1984): excerpts from Discipline and Punish
  • 6.8 Edward S. Herman (1925 – 2017) and Noam Chomsky (1928-): excerpts from Manufacturing Consent
  • 6.9 Gerald Taiaiake Alfred (1964 –): excerpt from Peace, Police, Rightness
  • 6.10 Review Questions
  • 6.11 Further Reading

Chapter 7: Violence and Civility

  • 7.1: Introduction
  • 7.2: Thucydides (c. 460 – c. 400 BC): excerpts from The Peloponnesian War (Melian & Mytilenean dialogues)
  • 7.3 Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274): Summary of Theology, Question 40. War: Is some kind of war lawful?
  • 7.4 Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 – 1900): excerpts from The Genealogy of Morality
  • 7.5 Sigmund Freud (1856 – 1939): excerpts from Civilization and its Discontents
  • 7.6 Heinrich Himmler (1900 – 1945): excerpts from a speech at Posen, October 1943
  • 7.7 Arendt, Hannah (1906 – 1975): excerpts from Eichmann in Jerusalem
  • 7.8 Franz Fanon (1925 – 1961): excerpt from Wretched of the Earth, “Concerning Violence”
  • 7.9 Philip Zimbardo (1933 – ): excerpts from The Lucifer Effect
  • 7.10 Review Questions
  • 7.11 Further Reading

Chapter 8: Political Identity and Human Nature

  • 8.1 Chapter Introduction
  • 8.2 Stoicism: excerpts from Epictetus’s Discourses (55-135 CE) and Hierocles’s “How we ought to conduct ourselves towards our kindred” (2nd Century CE)
  • 8.3 Mary Wollstonecraft (1759 – 1797): excerpts from A Vindication of the Rights of Women
  • 8.4 Toussaint L’Ouverture (1743–1803): The Haitian revolution: Toussaint L’Ouverture, Introduction by Jean Baptiste Aristide and Letters by L’Ouverture
  • 8.5 Sojourner Truth (1797 – 1883): Speech to the 1851 Women’s Convention
  • 8.6 John Stuart Mill (1806 – 1873): Excerpts from On Liberty
  • 8.7 Edward Said (1935 – 2003): excerpts from Orientalism, Ch.1 “Knowing the Oriental”
  • 8.8 bell hooks (1952 – ): excerpts from Feminist Theory: From Margin to Centre
  • 8.9 Glen Coulthard (1974- ): excerpts from Red Skin, White Masks
  • 8.10 Murray Bookchin (1921 – 2006): excerpts from Post-Scarcity Anarchism
  • 8.11 Nelson Mandela (1918 – 2013): excerpts from South African trial transcripts (1962), “Black man in a white man’s court”
  • 8.12 Review Questions
  • 8.13 Further Reading

Appendix: Timeline of Authors and Figures

Jonathan Lavery, Nick Garside, and Charles Wells teach at Wilfrid Laurier University, Brantford.

  • — An ambitious and broad anthology of historical and contemporary writings on ethics, politics, society, and science.
  • — Thematically organized, this book covers an important range of intellectual and cultural themes, from “Critical Judgement, Scientific Reasoning, and Modes of Argumentation” to “Propaganda and Power”
  • — 80 readings are included, representing a variety of traditions, backgrounds, and time periods: authors include Plato, Confucius, Darwin, Fanon, Arendt, hooks, and many others.
  • — Introductions to each section and reading are provided, as are review questions and suggestions for further reading.