Soul, Self, and Society: The New Morality and The Modern State

Hardcover | March 11, 2015

byEdward Rubin

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Political and social commentators regularly bemoan the decline of morality in the modern world. They claim that the norms and values that held society together in the past are rapidly eroding, to be replaced by permissiveness and empty hedonism. But as Edward Rubin demonstrates in thispowerful account of moral transformations, these prophets of doom are missing the point. Morality is not diminishing; instead, a new morality, centered on an ethos of human self-fulfillment, is arising to replace the old one. As Rubin explains, changes in morality have gone hand in hand with changes in the prevailing mode of governance throughout the course of Western history. During the Early Middle Ages, a moral system based on honor gradually developed. In a dangerous world where state power was declining, peoplerelied on bonds of personal loyalty that were secured by generosity to their followers and violence against their enemies. That moral order, exemplified in the early feudal system and in sagas like The Song of Roland, The Song of the Cid, and the Arthurian legends has faded, but its remnants existtoday in criminal organizations like the Mafia and in the rap music of the urban ghettos. When state power began to revive in the High Middle Ages through the efforts of the European monarchies, and Christianity became more institutionally effective and more spiritually intense, a new moralityemerged. Described by Rubin as the morality of higher purposes, it demanded that people devote their personal efforts to achieving salvation and their social efforts to serving the emerging nation-states. It insisted on social hierarchy, confined women to subordinate roles, restricted sex toprocreation, centered child-rearing on moral inculcation, and countenanced slavery and the marriage of pre-teenage girls to older men. Our modern era, which began in the late 18th century, has seen the gradual erosion of this morality of higher purposes and the rise of a new morality of self-fulfillment, one that encourages individuals to pursue the most meaningful and rewarding life-path. Far from being permissive or a moralabdication, it demands that people respect each other's choices, that sex be mutually enjoyable, that public positions be allocated according to merit, and that society provide all its members with their minimum needs so that they have the opportunity to fulfill themselves. Where people once servedthe state, the state now functions to serve the people. The clash between this ascending morality and the declining morality of higher purposes is the primary driver of contemporary political and cultural conflict. A sweeping, big-idea book in the vein of Francis Fukuyama's The End of History, Charles Taylor's The Secular Age, and Richard Sennett's The Fall of Public Man, Edward Rubin's new volume promises to reshape our understanding of morality, its relationship to government, and its role in shaping theemerging world of High Modernity.

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Political and social commentators regularly bemoan the decline of morality in the modern world. They claim that the norms and values that held society together in the past are rapidly eroding, to be replaced by permissiveness and empty hedonism. But as Edward Rubin demonstrates in thispowerful account of moral transformations, these pr...

Edward Rubin is Professor of Political Science and Law at Vanderbilt University. He is the former Dean of the Vanderbilt Law School and the author of many books including Beyond Camelot (Princeton University Press).

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:336 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.98 inPublished:March 11, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199348650

ISBN - 13:9780199348657

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Table of Contents

IntroductionThe ThesisAn Illustration: The 2012 ElectionPlan of the BookThe Boundaries and Limits of the ThesisPart I: Origins of the New Morality1. The Morality of HonorThe Privatization of Government in the Roman Empire The Privatization of Governance in Early Medieval Europe The Morality of Honor and the Man of HonorThe Man of Honor in Action The Morality of Honor and Other Members of SocietyThe Co-Causal Connection2. The Morality of Higher PurposesThe Publification of GovernanceThe Monarchy as a Higher Purpose of Its People and GovernmentThe Spiritualization of ChristianityThe Morality of Higher PurposesSexual Love as a Higher PurposeThe Co-Causal Connection3. The Morality of Self-FulfillmentThe Idea of the Administrative StateThe Advent of the Administrative StateSelf-Fulfillment Morality: The Process of SecularizationSelf-Fulfillment Morality: The Concept of Mental HealthThe Co-Causal ConnectionResistance to the New MoralityPart II: The Nature of the New Morality4. The Morality of the SelfThe Basic Principle: The Self as a Life-PathThe Basic Principle: Fulfillment as Pleasure, Planning and ReflectionSecondary Principles: Non-Interference, Incommensurability and EqualityComponents of the Life Path: CareersComponents of the Life-Path: Family, Religion and LeisureThe End of the Life-Path5. The Morality of Intimate and Personal RelationsThe Validation of SexThe Reformulation of Childhood SexThe Deregulation of SexThe Domestication of LoveThe Personalization of ParenthoodThe Personalization of Friendship and the Officialization of Work6. The Morality of Relations with SocietyThe Self's Relation to the Nation-StateThe Morality of Self-National RelationsThe Non-Interference Principle and Negative RightsThe Equality Principle and Positive RightsMoral Action Beyond Voting: Reiteration and Emergent ConsequencesThe New Morality and EnvironmentalismConclusion: The Future of ChristianityChristianity and Western History (Chapters 1, 2 and 3)Christianity and the New Morality of the Self (Chapter 4)Christianity and the New Morality of Personal Relations (Chapter 5)Christianity and the New Morality of Relations with Society (Chapter 6)A Final Word