Enjoyment: The Moral Significance of Styles of Life

Enjoyment: The Moral Significance of Styles of Life

by John Kekes


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In this book John Kekes examines the indispensable role enjoyment plays in a good life. The key to it is the development of a style of life that combines an attitude and a manner of living and acting that jointly express one's deepest concerns. Since such styles vary with characters and circumstances, a reasonable understanding of them requires attending to the particular and concrete details of individual lives. Reflection on works of literature is a better guide to this kind of understanding than the futile search for general theories and principles that preoccupies much of contemporary moral thought.

Enjoyment proceeds by the detailed examination of particular cases, shows how this kind of reflection can be reasonably conducted, and how the quest for universality and impartiality is misguided in this context. Central to the argument is a practical, particular, pluralistic, and yet objective conception of reason that rejects the pervasive contemporary tendency to regard reasons as good only if they are binding on all who aspire to live reasonably and morally. Reason in morality is neither theoretical nor general. Reasons for living and acting in particular ways are individually variable and none the worse for that.

Kekes aims to reorient moral thought from deontological, contractarian, and consequentialist preoccupations toward a reasonable but pluralistic reflection on what individuals can do to make their lives better.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780199592494
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 11/19/2010
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

John Kekes has been Research Professor at the State University of New York and Visiting Professor in Canada, Estonia, Hungary, Portugal, and Singapore. He has received Fellowships from the Canada Council, the State University of New York, and the Woodrow Wilson, Rockefeller, and Earhart Foundations. He is the author of fifteen books and many articles on moral and political thought.

Table of Contents

Part One: Introduction
1. A Grace to be Cultivated
Part Two: Styles of Life
2. Pursuing Our Own Good
3. Personal Evaluation
4. The Importance of Manner
Part Three: The Evaluation of Styles of Live
5. A Great and Rare Art
6. Three-Dimensional Morality
7. The Uses of Reason in Morality
Part Four: Some Particular Styles of Life
8. A Most Perfect Gentleman
9. A Morbid Romantic
10. An Enemy of Happiness
11. A Wise and Virtuous Man
12. A Certain Gaiety of Heart
13. The Rightful Enjoyment of Our Being
Part Five: Conclusion
14. The Felicity We Make or Find
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