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Reverence: Renewing a Forgotten Virtue Paperback – 2 Jun 2014


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"This book by Paul Woodruff is a delight, in part from the beauty and pertinence of the poetry that Woodruff brings in to illuminate his discussion and from the charm added by his explications. His prose is a joy as he illustrates the various facets of reverence with brief scenarios and as well as longer stories. This book is capable of changing some people."--George Bennion, Brigham Young University"In this small book, philosopher Paul Woodruff sets himself two large tasks: to revive an appreciation for reverence in a culture that celebrates irreverence, and to rescue the idea of virtue from its proponents on the right and its opponents on the left. He succeeds admirably in both." --Scott Russell Sanders, Christian Science Monitor"An admirable, historical and ideological survey."--Publishers Weekly"Elegant.... Not a simple self-help book, nor is it intended to be a feel-good, or feel-better, philosophical read.... It is grounded in Western and Eastern philosophical, intellectual, an literary traditions, and it invites us to figure out for ourselves how its plainspoken lessons about the role of reverence...can be applied to the challenges of that confront us in our day-to-day lives."--Tom Palaima, The American Prospect"Woodruff approaches his subject with reverence, thereby invoking it even as he is analyzing it with depth and clarity. We have lost the 'idea' of reverence, he tells us, and to reclaim it is our obligation and opportunity. A beautiful book, lyrical and hard-hitting, intellectual and emotive, transformative."--Ursula Goodenough, author of Sacred Depths of Nature"Reverence is a beautifully written meditation on an important--and neglected--virtue. It is a wise, humane work and--in its own reverent way--something of a minor masterpiece."--David Reeve, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

About the Author

Paul Woodruff has served at the University of Texas at Austin since 1973; he has been chair of the Department of Philosophy, director of the Plan II Honors Program, and inaugural dean of the School of Undergraduate Studies. Specializing in ancient Greek philosophy and the history of ethics, Woodruff has published a number of translations of works by Plato, Sophocles and others. In addition, he has authored books that interpret classical philosophy for political, business or personal situations in contemporary lives.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Thought-provoking book written for a broad audience 7 Aug. 2014
By Timothy J. Bartik - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a well-written and thoughtful book that argues that reverence is a necessary virtue. Woodruff's definition of reverence is that it is "the well-developed capacity to have the feelings of awe, respect, and shame when these are the right feelings to have."

But reverence for what? What is particularly distinctive in this book is that Woodruff forcefully argues in the possibilities of a wide variety of objects of reverence -- not just for God, but for nature, for truth, for beauty, for community, and for the best human moral capacities. In Woodruff's view, the emotion of reverence provides the necessary support for the other virtues, such as justice. One needs to feel that other human beings, the community, and the universe have a beauty and potential glory beyond our individual power to be properly supported and motivated in our continued struggle to act to be in right relations with others and with the world.

Woodruff explores the idea of reverence through numerous examples from philosophy, literature, history, current affairs, and his own life. The book spends some considerable time on reverence in ancient Greece and China, in the works of Plato, the Greek playwrights, and Confucius. He also discusses the war in Iraq, including the case of the tortures at Abu Ghraib, his own experiences in Vietnam, and more mundane day-to-day events in which reverence can help, ranging from committee meetings to local politics to teaching.

This is a second edition of a previously published book. This second book adds 3 new chapters, including a chapter on compassion. Woodruff argues that this chapter emphasizes what he characterizes as the most important message of the book: "Leaders are responsible for the compassion of those who follow them." In his view, part of this responsibility is by leaders showing the proper respect for moral principles, for truth, and for their followers, all of which, in Woodruff's view, helps to cultivate compassion in the community being led.

Woodruff also adds an epilogue that suggests some guides as to how to cultivate reverence. These guides include: paying attention, or mindfulness about myself, my fellow human beings, and the universe; engaging in "languages" that arouse reverence, such as music and poetry, and ceremony that has the true spirit of reverence; always asking oneself questions, as Socrates did, about whether the right things are being done and in the right spirit and with the right character.

This is a thought-provoking book. I suspect a philosopher might want more extensive and detailed discussion of the exact relationship of reverence with the other virtues, such as justice and wisdom. As Woodruff mentions, Plato did not treat reverence as a virtue, seeing justice as supreme. But Plato was perhaps less attentive than he should be to some emotional requirements for virtue. However, for most readers, who are not looking for philosophic proofs, this book will provide plenty of examples and images that will be nourishing and encouraging in developing better character, regardless of the exact relationships among the virtues. In addition, the book is written in a way that will appeal to a broad audience, regardless of their specific religious or philosophic beliefs, and including both theists and atheists.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This wonderful book with additional thoughts from the original edition is ... 7 Aug. 2014
By john m cogswell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This wonderful book with additional thoughts from the original edition is an essential read for anyone interested in the importance of virtue in all aspects of living. Reverence, as one of the virtues, becomes a touchstone for measuring the quality of both every day relationships and the leadership we need to govern ourselves as a nation. Every American should read this book.
0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Don't waste your time. 27 Dec. 2014
By knowledge seeker - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Repetitive, boring and self-serving. Read 8% before deleting it.
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