The Uses of Pessimism: And the Danger of False Hope

Paperback | February 5, 2013

byRoger Scruton

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Ranging widely over human history and culture, from ancient Greece to the current global economic downturn, Scruton makes a counterintuitive yet persuasive case that optimists and idealists - with their ignorance about the truths of human nature and human society, and their naive hopes aboutwhat can be changed - have wrought havoc for centuries. Scruton's argument is nuanced, however, and his preference for pessimism is not a dark view of human nature; rather his is a "hopeful pessimism" which urges that instead of utopian efforts to reform human society or human nature, we focus on the only reform that we can truly master - the improvementof ourselves through the cultivation of our better instincts. Written in Scruton's trademark style - erudite, sweeping in scope across centuries and cultures, and unafraid to offend - this book is sure to intrigue and provoke readers concerned with the state of Western culture, the nature of human beings, and the question of whether social progress is trulypossible.

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Ranging widely over human history and culture, from ancient Greece to the current global economic downturn, Scruton makes a counterintuitive yet persuasive case that optimists and idealists - with their ignorance about the truths of human nature and human society, and their naive hopes aboutwhat can be changed - have wrought havoc for ...

Roger Scruton is Senior Research Fellow at Oxford University, and Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. He is the author of over thirty books including Beauty, Death-Devoted Heart, and How to Think Seriously About the Planet.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:240 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 0.68 inPublished:February 5, 2013Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199968977

ISBN - 13:9780199968978

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Table of Contents

Preface1. The First-Person Future2. The Best Case Fallacy3. The Born Free Fallacy4. The Utopian Fallacy5. The Zero Sum Fallacy6. The Planning Fallacy7. The Moving Spirit Fallacy8. The Aggregation Fallacy9. Defences Against the Truth10. Our Tribal Past11. Our Civil Present12. Our Human Future

Editorial Reviews

"Score one for pessimism." --Peter Monaghan, The Chronicle of Higher Education