University Seminar on Innovation in Education: The Good Life: The Moral Individual in an AntiMoral World, with Cheryl Mendelson
By: Education Program Gottesman Libraries
Published: 10/02/2012
Uploaded: 10/19/2012
Uploaded by: Education Program Gottesman Libraries
Pockets: Gottesman Libraries' Education Program, University Seminar on Innovation in Education
Tags: Cheryl Mendelson, ethics, Morality, university seminar

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Description/Abstract: University Seminar on Innovation in Education: The Good Life: The Moral Individual in an AntiMoral World, with Cheryl Mendelson, Monday, 10/15, 7-9pm

The Good Life is a different kind of book about morality. It doesn't tell anyone what they should or shouldn't do; it doesn't explain morality as something built into our genes or imposed on us by our society; and it doesn't confuse morality with anyone's political agenda. Instead it explains--through clear-sighted accounts of a wide range of contemporary cultural and intellectual life --what it means to be moral, and how the rise of inequality and cruelty in so much of American life is the direct product of an anti-moral culture.

Cheryl Mendelson challenges the hijacking of the idea of morality by the political right, and the distortions of it in American culture--in business, social life, law, science, and academia.

She puts her finger on a current that runs through American life today: one of pervasive, often covert hostility to the moral, that leads to unhappiness in personal lives as well as to the policies favoring cruelty and greed that afflict our times. She writes from a perspective that favors both liberal political ideals --such as civil rights, sexual equality, gay rights, labor unions, and effective regulation of business and finance--and staunch personal decency, precisely because all these serve the real purposes of morality.

A central argument of Mendelson's book is that no one has credentials in morality, and her book includes a sharp critique of the way the academy falsifies and trivializes morality by claiming to explain it through scientific and philosophical expertise. Her book is the product of a lifetime's thought, but it has special relevance today: it delves deeply into the psychology of the angry right, into public support for torture abroad and tasers at home, into the distorted morality of the anti-abortion movement, into the "culture of cool" and the effect of destabilized families on moral culture.

The Good Life brings clarity and generous-mindedness to a topic clouded by single-minded ideologies, collective pathologies, politicized and irrational religion, and academic confusion. It is illuminating and polemical,and a source of enlightenment and courage.

Cheryl Mendelson is the author of the bestselling Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House, as well as three novels. She received her Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Rochester and her J.D. from Harvard Law School. She has practiced law in New York City and teaches philosophy at Barnard College. Her next book, on the subject of marriage, is to be published by Bloomsbury in 2013. She lives in New York City with her husband and son.

Where: 305 Russell

Jointly sponsored by the University Seminar on Ethics, Moral Education, and Society, this seminar is part of the 2012-2013 season of the University Seminar on Innovation in Education which is co-chaired by Ronald Gross who also conducts the Socratic Conversations at the Gottesman Libraries; and Robert McClintock, John L. and Sue Ann Weinberg Professor Emeritus in the Historical and Philosophical Foundations of Education at Teachers College. Founded in 1970, the Seminar explores the process of learning in individuals, organizations, and society, throughout the lifespan and via major institutions.