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A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles Audio CD – Audiobook, 1 Apr 2013

4.0 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks; Unabridged edition (April 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1441788018
  • ISBN-13: 978-1441788016
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2 x 14.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Review

"A classic of a very special kind.... A gem of a book, crafted with passion for the truth and love for mankind." - Christian SciencMonitor. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Thomas Sowell is Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. His two dozen books, as well as numerous articles and essays, cover a wide range of topics, from classic economic theory to judicial activism, from civil rights to choosing the right college. In 1990, he won the prestigious Francis Boyer Award, presented by The American Enterprise Institute. He lives in Stanford, California. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I have read and re-read this book; as a political theory enthusiast, it's amazing to me how seldom the issue of what Left and Right really are gets addressed.
This is an attempt to make the root assumptions of Left and Right "world views" clear. The fact is, says Sowell, that the Left tends to regard limits and boundaries as movable and subject to change, while the Right sees them more often as immutable, even if tragic.
Sowell is not a philosopher properly speaking, and he does write like a convert from economics, which he is. But the ideas are very fruitful, and not at all limited to Right-wing self-justification, as some advertise it.
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Format: Paperback
This is a brilliant book with an original theory, well explained with many good examples from the works of Adam Smith, Edmund Burke, Condorcet, William Godwin, Thomas Malthus and Fritz Hayek, plus others, whose political views may be understood to flow from conflicting visions of man and society.

The conflicting visions of man and society are the constrained and the unconstrained visions of human nature. The constrained vision of human nature says that man's nature limits what can be done to change him or his society. The unconstrained vision of human nature says that man can be comprehensively improved by social action and moral education: improvement is limited only by effort, not by innate human qualities or by social dynamics. In the constrained vision, the proper method to improve man is to use economic incentives and strict and consistent laws, which limit the harm men can do to each other. In the unconstrained vision, one can legislate for a better society or improve men simply by changing their environment sufficiently.

These basic visions inform consistently-opposed political theories in regard to justice, power, law, the economy, rights, warfare, punishment and rationality, etc, though few people express a pure constrained or unconstrained vision.

A significant asymmetry of moral judgments between the two visions is that those with the constrained vision (conservatives, for example) generally think their opponents are clever and sincere but misguided while those with the unconstrained vision (progressives, for example) generally condemn their political enemies as morally repugnant.

This consequence of the theory perfectly fits my experience, so although Thomas Sowell is scrupulously fair to both visions, to my mind he cannot help formulating good arguments for the rationality and truth of the constrained vision.
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Format: Paperback
Thomas Sowell's "A Conflict of Visions" is a remarkable book. The author's objective portrayal of the two conflicting visions, their premises, their history and their wide ranging implications and ramifications is an excellent education for all who have a serious interest in social and economic policies, as well as politics.
Like Dr. Sowell's other books, "A Conflict of Visions" was the product of meticulous research, objective analysis and much original thought. In my opinion, few people in the public arena today are as brilliant and as well informed as Dr. Sowell.
If you ever wondered why the same two camps of voices combat each other on issue after issue, in politics, in law, in economics and in social policies, if you ever wondered why no unequivocal truth emerged from the conflicting premises through more than 200 years of war and peace, and if you ever wondered (this is the kicker!) why one side's vitriolic portrayal of the other side met with a generally benevolent counter portrayal, you will find the answers in Dr. Sowell's theory of conflicting visions. Reading this book is like discovering Newtonian mechanics.
"A Conflict of Visions" is not an easy read. However, you won't soon forget its ideas.
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Format: Paperback
I must admit I found Thomas Sowell somewhat difficult to understand. However, given the abstract nature of the book, I'm not sure many writers could have written much better. But once you get into the frame of mind and synchronize with Sowell's presentation flow, it becomes readily apparent that this man is a deep thinker with useful insights into the basis for political ideologies. The book is not especially historical with regards to shifts in political attitudes. However, he does present political ideologies in such a way that allows the reader to compare and contrast and to understand the essential basis for the differences in those ideologies. A definite must-read for the political junkie and certainly for any political science student. Just be prepared to concentrate like you never have before and I think you too will appreciate the insights of Thomas Sowell.
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