Author: Raimond Gaita
Publisher: Roli Books
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0415241138
A beautifully written and profound book about how the humanity of our fellow human beings is sometimes not fully visible to us.
Drawing on the examples of the Holocaust, the David Irving Affair, the case of Mary Bell and the taking of children of mixed blood from Aboriginal parents in Australia, Raimond Gaita examines the reasons for this. Amongst them, he argues, are a moralistic conception of morality that runs deep in our culture and an impoverished conception of reason and understanding. Both encourage a false opposition between moral judgment and compassion and between head and heart.
Turning on its head the way we are inclined to think about evil, Gaita argues for an understanding of it that is inseparable from a sense of the preciousness of each human being. Only this conception of evil can safeguard us against the temptation to treat some evil-doers as no longer deserving to be treated fully as our fellow human beings. That sense of the preciousness of each individual, he argues, is founded on and revealed in the works of love-the love of parents for children, the love of lovers for their beloved and the love of saints for people whom most of us cannot love. Far from blinding us to the more formal ways we acknowledge our common humanity, by means of concepts like justice, rights and obligations, Raimond Gaita shows how love can make the structure of these concepts more visible to us.
Essential and compelling reading for anyone interested in what makes an ethical society, A Common Humanity shows how philosophy can illuminate pressing moral issues none of us can afford to ignore.
An absorbing read from beginning to ends; its discussions are memorable and in many places moving. A quite exceptional work.
-Tim Crane, University College, London
This philosophy for the educated public is philosophy at its most profound.
-Jean Curthoys, Australian Review of Books
A wised and beautifully written book. It is a wonderful example of how philosophy can still speak without any condescension to the educated reader.
-Professor Simon Critchley, University of Essex
A wonderful piece of writing. The disciplined individuality of Gaita’s voice shows how a humanly serious practice of philosophy might make a decisive contribution to our public culture.
-Stephen Mulhall, New College Oxford
A book for anyone who is prepared to think seriously. It is also moving in a way that is rare in philosophy.
-Anthony Duff, University of Stirling
A Common Humanity: Thinking about love and Truth and Justice is a powerful and timely book about why much of the language of morality has failed us. Drawing on examples of the Holocaust, the David Irving controversy, the case of Mary Bell and the taking of children of mixed blood from Aboriginal parents in Australia, Raimond Gaita argues that the language of morality has failed us because of false oppositions between moral judgment and compassion, and between head and heart. Offering a rich and moving alternative to this predicament, a Common Humanity is essential and compelling reading for anyone interested in what makes an ethical society.
Introduction: Take Your Time
Goodness beyond Virtue
Evil Beyond Vice
Racism: The Denial of a Common Humanity
Justice beyond Fairness: Mabo & Social Justice
Guilt, Shame & Community
Genocide & the Stoken Generations
Genocide & The Holocaust
Forms of the Unthinkable
Truth & the Responsibility of Intellectuals
Goodness & Truth
Truth As a Need of the Soul
A Common Humanity