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The Quest for a Moral Compass: A Global History of Ethics (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 2. September 2014

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“Malik is admirably evenhanded in considering the history of ethical thought. An excellent survey for intermediate students of philosophy and a fine course in self-education for general readers."
Kirkus Reviews

“What I love about Kenan Malik’s book is its unashamed, unabashed ambition: he wants to write the history of moral thought, not just in the Western tradition, but of all the traditions that make up the global argument about the direction that the human moral compass should point. The result is a tour de force of lucidity and narrative skill.”
Michael Ignatieff

“An absolute tour de force. I can imagine it replacing Bertrand Russell’s History of Western Philosophy on many a bookshelf—certainly mine.”
Tom Holland, author of In the Shadow of the Sword: The Birth of Islam and the Rise of the Global Arab Empire

“This is an extraordinarily rewarding investigation of the most striking, and contested, aspect of our humanity . . . To read it is not only to be better informed but also to be more alert to the assumptions that have guided human beings in the past, and to our capacity for goodness and wickedness.”
Raymond Tallis, author of The Kingdom of Infinite Space

From the eBook edition.

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

KENAN MALIK is a writer, lecturer, and broadcaster. He is a presenter of The Moral Maze on BBC Radio 4 (UK). He has taught at universities in Britain, Europe, Australia and the USA, presented many TV documentaries and writes regularly for newspapers across the world including as a columnist for the International New York Times. His books include Man, Beast and Zombie; Strange Fruit; and From Fatwa to Jihad (Melville House, 2010), which was shortlisted for the 2010 Orwell Book Prize.

From the eBook edition.


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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 7 Rezensionen
10 von 10 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Intellectual depth communicated with grace and style. 26. September 2014
Von Ralph Monley - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
This is a fabulous book and written with a graceful and occasionally humorous style, with reference to some current events to nicely balance the two thousand years or more of moral philosophy covered. If you want to appreciate the really long term history of humans grappling with the question of what is right and wrong and on whose authority, you will find an authoritative yet accessible narrative here. Highly recommended.
7 von 7 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
An introduction to the philosophy of ethics 14. Februar 2015
Von Dr. H. A. Jones - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
The Quest for a Moral Compass: A global history of ethics by Kenan Malik, Atlantic Books, London, 2014, 392pp.

The title of this book tells us precisely what it is about – it is an introduction to the history of humanity’s search for ethical values. It presents a survey of moral issues raised by philosophers from those of ancient Greece to 20th century philosophers like G.E. Moore and the pragmatists. It is skilfully written but, as an author and publisher myself, I would see the market for this book being mainly among lay or academic students of philosophy.

The much shorter books on ‘Ethics’ by J.L. Mackie (Penguin) and ‘Moral Philosophy’ by D.D. Raphael (Oxford) are much more accessible for the interested layman, and I found Richard Norman’s ‘The Moral Philosophers’ (Oxford) the most useful as a student though, dating as they do, from the end of the 20th century they might be regarded by some as out-of-date. While certain moral issues come and go with time and others vary between societies, there are certain basic issues which are timeless and universal – like needing to distinguish between what is subjective and what is objective; or recognizing what role intuitions play in prescribing or inhibiting moral behaviour.

I think Tom Holland’s comment on the book jacket that Malik’s treatise could ever replace Bertrand Russell’s ‘History of Western Philosophy’ is quite mistaken: Malik’s book deals with only a small section of the subject of philosophy. Malik is a lecturer, writer and broadcaster who specializes in the history and philosophy of science, and of biology in particular.

Ethics is perhaps the most personal and subjective of all the branches of philosophy, compared with the philosophy of science, metaphysics or even religion. So while an author can recount what philosophers have said about moral issues through the ages, interpreting these views with regard to their significance for contemporary society is inevitably very much a matter of an author’s personal viewpoint. Malik seems to come down firmly on the side of relativism. In summarizing near the end of the book Malik says: ‘Questions of morality do not have objective answers in the way that scientific questions do, but neither are they merely expressions of subjective desire or taste’. My feeling is that many ethical questions are precisely that.

At the end of the book, there are Reference Notes to each chapter, a ten-page Bibliography of further reading and an Index that was sufficiently detailed for me to find out something about each of the moral philosophers and their issues that I knew about.

Howard Jones is the author of Evolution of Consciousness
6 von 7 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Brilliant and encyclopedic 9. Oktober 2014
Von César - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
Open Kenan Malik’s book “The Quest for a Moral Compass” on any page and you will be captivated first by the beauty of his prose and then by the depth and breadth of his arguments. Keep reading and you will find yourself immersed in the subtitle: “A Global History of Ethics”. Brilliant and encyclopedic.
9 von 13 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
I was disappointed by this book 10. Oktober 2014
Von Gary R. Sunshine - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
I was disappointed by this book, it is probably adequate for a general introduction, but lacks depth and rigor.

There are a variety of unsupported facts and conclusions. It needs at least twice as many footnotes as it contains and probably twice as many pages for the scope of its ambition. It would have really benefitted from a close critical reading by a professional in this field before publication.
Well done! 25. März 2015
Von Michael H. Montgomery - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
A wonderful book covering the history of ethical thought. Recommended for anyone going into graduate school, anyone in the human sciences for which philosophy tends to be covert but present none the less, or the general high end reader.
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