Pessimism: Philosophy, Ethic, Spirit


Pessimism claims an impressive following--from Rousseau, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche, to Freud, Camus, and Foucault. Yet "pessimist" remains a term of abuse--an accusation of a bad attitude--or the diagnosis of an unhappy psychological state. Pessimism is thought of as an exclusively negative stance that inevitably leads to resignation or despair. Even when pessimism looks like utter truth, we are told that it makes the worst of a bad situation. Bad for the individual, worse for the species--who would actually counsel pessimism? Joshua Foa Dienstag does. In Pessimism, he challenges the received wisdom about pessimism, arguing that there is an unrecognized yet coherent and vibrant pessimistic philosophical tradition. More than that, he argues that pessimistic thought may provide a critically needed alternative to the increasingly untenable progressivist ideas that have dominated thinking about politics throughout the modern period. Laying out powerful grounds for pessimism's claim that progress is not an enduring feature of human history, Dienstag argues that political theory must begin from this predicament. He persuasively shows that pessimism has been--and can again be--an energizing and even liberating philosophy, an ethic of radical possibility and not just a criticism of faith. The goal--of both the pessimistic spirit and of this fascinating account of pessimism--is not to depress us, but to edify us about our condition and to fortify us for life in a disordered and disenchanted universe.



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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Sold by: --
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Princeton Univ Pr
  • ISBN-13: 9780691125527
  • ISBN: 069112552X
  • Publication Year: 2006
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HPB condition ratings
  • New: Item is brand new, unused and unmarked, in flawless condition.
  • Fine/Like New (F): Book may have been read. Looks new and has no defects. May show remainder marks. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
  • Near Fine (NF): Clean, with no defects, but may show slight wear at edges of book or dust jacket. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
  • Very Good (VG): Shows signs of wear. May have minor defects: clipped or chipped dust jacket; owner’s inscription; remainder mark; minor foxing or bumping. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
  • Good (G): Average used book with all pages present. May have any of the defects above to a greater degree, including highlighting, library markings, or loose bindings. Rare and collectible books may have cocked spine, cracked hinges, water stains; torn or repaired dust jacket. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
  • Fair (FR): May be very worn, soiled, torn, or barely holding together. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
  • Poor (P): May have extensive damage from moisture or insects; detached boards; parts may be missing; marginally salable unless very unusual. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
Conditions Guide
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Conditions Guide
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