To Flourish Or Destruct: A Personalist Theory Of Human Goods, Motivations, Failure, And Evil

Hardcover | March 23, 2015

byChristian Smith

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In his 2010 book What Is a Person?, Christian Smith argued that sociology had for too long neglected this fundamental question. Prevailing social theories, he wrote, do not adequately “capture our deep subjective experience as persons, crucial dimensions of the richness of our own lived lives, what thinkers in previous ages might have called our ‘souls’ or ‘hearts.’” Building on Smith’s previous work, To Flourish or Destruct examines the motivations intrinsic to this subjective experience: Why do people do what they do? How can we explain the activity that gives rise to all human social life and social structures?
 
Smith argues that our actions stem from a motivation to realize what he calls natural human goods: ends that are, by nature, constitutionally good for all human beings. He goes on to explore the ways we can and do fail to realize these ends—a failure that can result in varying gradations of evil. Rooted in critical realism and informed by work in philosophy, psychology, and other fields, Smith’s ambitious book situates the idea of personhood at the center of our attempts to understand how we might shape good human lives and societies.

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From the Publisher

In his 2010 book What Is a Person?, Christian Smith argued that sociology had for too long neglected this fundamental question. Prevailing social theories, he wrote, do not adequately “capture our deep subjective experience as persons, crucial dimensions of the richness of our own lived lives, what thinkers in previous ages might have...

Christian Smith is the William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of Sociology at the University of Notre Dame, where he directs the Center for the Study of Religion and Society and the Notre Dame Center for Social Research.  He is the author or coauthor of several books, including What Is a Person? and Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritua...
Format:HardcoverDimensions:384 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.2 inPublished:March 23, 2015Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022623195X

ISBN - 13:9780226231952

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction

Chapter 1: Critical Realist Personalism—Some Basics

Chapter 2: Rethinking Motivations for Action

Chapter 3: Against Social Situationism

Chapter 4: Human Nature and Motivations in Classical Theory

Chapter 5: On Basic Human Goods, Interests, and Motivations

Chapter 6: Toward a Theory of Flourishing

Chapter 7: Understanding Failure, Destruction, and Evil

Conclusion

Notes

Index

Editorial Reviews

“Speaking in a voice of common sense and reasonableness, and using everyday language, Smith blasts apart most of the assumptions of modern social science and relativism and sets up an alternative scaffolding of moral realism and the theoretical position he calls Personalism. This book represents a major advance in sociology and more specifically within critical realism, which is gradually emerging as a full-fledged alternative in the social sciences. I am fundamentally convinced by this book.”