The Relevance of Philosophy to Life

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Vanderbilt University Press, 1995 - Philosophy - 277 pages
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The primary purpose of philosophy is to help us better understand the critical issues in life. Sadly, in this modern world we often relegate philosophy to the ivory tower and to dusty tomes forgotten on the library shelf. With The Relevance of Philosophy to Life, eminent American philosopher John Lachs reminds us that philosophy is not merely a remote subject of academic research and discourse, but an ever-changing field which can help us navigate through some of the chaos of late twentieth-century living. Utilizing an American pragmatism grounded in the works of Dewey, James, and Santayana, Lachs insists on both the personal and the social significance of philosophy. Tackling controversial topics such as dogmatism, the relativity of values, resuscitation, euthanasia, the right to die, violence, education, technological advancement and dominance, and individual integrity in bureaucratic structures, Lachs argues that value is relative to human nature and that human nature is not one but many "human natures." He sheds light on complicated issues in a way that informs the most sophisticated reader while also making the issues, his reasoning, and his solutions accessible to the general public. This important new book challenges readers to apply ethical principles and philosophical understanding more consistently in their own lives. It will be a timely addition to the libraries and reading lists of many professionals, students, and individuals seeking a fuller appreciation of philosophy's relevance to our own times.
 

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Contents

The Relevance of Philosophy to Life
3
Reflections on Current French Philosophy
11
Relativism and Its Benefits
19
Values and Relations
29
How Relative Are Values? or Are Nazis Irrational and Why the Answer Matters
40
Santayana on Society
50
Dogmatist in Disguise
62
Grand History and Ordinary Life
70
LIFE AND DEATH
161
Questions of Life and Death
163
Humane Treatment and the Treatment of Humans
170
Resuscitation
176
Active Euthanasia
181
When Abstract Moralizing Runs Amok
188
On Selling Organs
195
Personal Relations Between Physicians and Patients
199

PROBLEMS OF SOCIAL LIFE
81
Aristotle and Dewey on the Rat Race
83
Violence as Response to Alienation
98
Persons and Technology
113
Professional Advertising in an Ignorant World
126
Reconceiving Some Problems and Their Solutions with Shirley M Lacks
133
Law and the Importance of Feelings
152
The Element of Choice in Criteria of Death
209
Human Natures
228
The Philosophical Significance of Psychological Differences
243
Persons and Different Kinds of Persons
254
Epilogue
265
Index
273
Copyright

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About the author (1995)

John Lachs has written or edited numerous articles and books on philosophy, including Intermediate Man; Human Search; Animal Faith and Spiritual Life; Physical Order and Moral Liberty; and Mind and Philosophers. A member of many professional societies, he currently serves as Centennial Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University.

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