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In Praise of Meekness: Essays on Ethnics and Politics

In Praise of Meekness: Essays on Ethnics and Politics

Norberto Bobbio, Teresa Chataway

ISBN: 978-0-745-62308-5 November 2000 Polity 200 Pages


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In this important volume, the leading political theorist and philosopher Norberto Bobbio confronts some of the most enduring moral questions of our time. Written over the last two decades of the twentieth century, the essays in this volume develop some of the central themes in Bobbio's moral and political philosophy. They also reflect his longstanding civil commitment to liberty, democracy, peace and equality.

The opening essay, 'In praise of meekness', analyses the virtue of meekness in its individual and social aspects. It identifies the meek person with the nonviolent, and meekness with the refusal to exercise violence against anyone. Meekness, therefore, is a non-political virtue - it is the antithesis of politics. The volume also addresses the persistent classical problem of 'reason of state', as well as the more contemporary questions of tolerance and truth, racism, prejudice and ethics. The problem of evil in the modern world is also discussed. All the essays display the sensitivity and depth of understanding that characterize Bobbio's writings on current debates and historical controversies.

The book will be invaluable reading for all students and scholars of politics, as well as those who are interested in the debates surrounding morals, ethics and law.

Translator’s Preface.


In Praise of Meekness.


Ethics and Politics.

Reason of State and Democracy.


The Nature of Prejudice.

Racism Today.


Truth and Liberty.

Tolerance and Truth.


For and Against Lay Ethics.

The Gods that Failed.


Understand Before Judging.

Free to Save Ourselves.

Note about the texts.


'With his customary clarity and acumen, Italy's oldest and wisest political thinker reflects in these essays upon morality's relation to politics, on the nature and sources of prejudice, on why one can be tolerant without being sceptical, on how morals are linked to a religious vision of the world and on the thought that "followers of reason alone know their limits, and they are precluded from going beyond them".'Professor Steven Lukes, FBA, European University Institute

'Bobbio ... has been a remarkably influential figure in practical politics. A leading luminary of the political wing of the Italian Resistance, twice imprisoned by Mussolini, he became after the war a sympathetic yet stringent critic of the Italian Communist Party ... Today, still active at the age of 91, he is an Italian life senator, an emeritus professor, and a figure of sage-like, oracular status ... [These pieces] have some sharp insights to offer into the distinction between tolerance and scepticism, the sources of human prejudice and the relations between ethics and politics.' Terry Eagleton, London Review of Books

'This book is remarkable for its capacity to arouse incisive thinking about everyday problems, and to convince "deeply and yet meekly".' Millennium

1. An important new book by the leading political theorist and philosopher
2. Develops some of the central themes in Bobbio's moral and political philosophy
3. Addresses important contemporary issues including racism, prejudice, the problem of evil, and the virtues of tolerance and truth.