- Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: Atlantic Books (1 May 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1848874804
- ISBN-13: 978-1848874800
- Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 3 x 23.4 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 303,833 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Quest for a Moral Compass: A Global History of Ethics Paperback – 1 May 2014
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An absolute tour de force. I can imagine it replacing Bertrand Russell's History of Western Philosophy on many a bookshelf - certainly mine. -- Tom Holland This is intellectual history in the grand manner, in the tradition of Bertrand Russell's History of Western Philosophy, written with the same clarity, accessibility and narrative verve as the master himself... We are all in Kenan Malik's debt. This is a majestic and timely work. -- Jonathan Sacks The Tablet As a survey of philosophical thought, Kenan Malik's narrative is a terrific achievement. Ranging from Socrates to Richard Dawkins, from China to Haiti, from dry ethics to poetry, The Quest for a Moral Compass is a work of highly readable history much more than it is a philosophical treatise. Independent on Sunday This is an extraordinarily rewarding investigation of the most striking, and contested, aspect of our humanity... To read it is not only to be better informed but also to be more alert to the assumptions that have guided human beings in the past, and to our capacity for goodness and wickedness. -- Raymond Tallis What I love about Kenan Malik's book is its unashamed, unabashed ambition: he wants to write the history of moral thought, not just in the Western tradition, but of all the traditions that make up the global argument about the direction that the human moral compass should point. The result is a tour de force of lucidity and narrative skill. -- Michael Ignatieff The Quest for a Moral Compass is a remarkable achievement... While demonstrating genuine command of the subtleties of the hundreds of topics covered, he consistently chooses the accessible, the concise, the precise, and the broad-ranging over the technical, theoretical, and trivial. I learned more than I can say and will no doubt be consulting this book often in the future. -- Austin Dacey
About the Author
Kenan Malik is a writer, lecturer and broadcaster. He is a presenter of Analysis of BBC Radio 4, and a panelist on The Moral Maze. He has taught at universities in Britain, Europe, Australia and the USA, presented many TV documentaries and writes regularly for newspapers across the world including the New York Times, the Guardian, Goteborgs-Posten and the Australian. His books include Man, Beast and Zombie, Strange Fruit and From Fatwa to Jihad, which was shortlisted for the 2010 Orwell Prize.
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Top Customer Reviews
Kenan does do a very commendable job explaining the difficult philosophical concepts with stories and analogies which made the book very readable indeed. Not only is this book a great read for any student of philosophy but also for all fans of the subject.
Undoubtedly the scientific background of the author is a great asset that ensures a methodical approach, clarity of analysis and pithy conclusions, that is unfortunately often lacking in works by authors with a " human sciences" background.This is a book for all seasons that will remain on the shelf for regular inspection and consultation.It is shocking though to see the original kindle version retailing at £1 ( 3months ago), is it not insulting to the author even if it ensure wider circulation?
The title of this book tells us precisely what it is about – it is an introduction to the history of humanity’s search for ethical values. It presents a survey of moral issues raised by philosophers from those of ancient Greece to 20th century philosophers like G.E. Moore and the pragmatists. It is skilfully written but, as an author and publisher myself, I would see the market for this book being mainly among lay or academic students of philosophy.
The much shorter books on ‘Ethics’ by J.L. Mackie (Penguin) and ‘Moral Philosophy’ by D.D. Raphael (Oxford) are much more accessible for the interested layman, and I found Richard Norman’s ‘The Moral Philosophers’ (Oxford) the most useful as a student though, dating as they do, from the end of the 20th century they might be regarded by some as out-of-date. While certain moral issues come and go with time and others vary between societies, there are certain basic issues which are timeless and universal – like needing to distinguish between what is subjective and what is objective; or recognizing what role intuitions play in prescribing or inhibiting moral behaviour.
I think Tom Holland’s comment on the book jacket that Malik’s treatise could ever replace Bertrand Russell’s ‘History of Western Philosophy’ is quite mistaken: Malik’s book deals with only a small section of the subject of philosophy. Malik is a lecturer, writer and broadcaster who specializes in the history and philosophy of science, and of biology in particular.
Ethics is perhaps the most personal and subjective of all the branches of philosophy, compared with the philosophy of science, metaphysics or even religion.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fascinating and illuminating tour of moral development from local and global perspectives.Published 11 months ago by Maurellius
Was a Interesting book. A good read I will say especially in our days, when we question ourself about moral compass.Published 13 months ago by Ina Kee
If you are going to read one book on moral philosophy, then read this one! Wide-ranging in scope and clear in vision, Keenan Malik makes a rapid review of the development of... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Ralph Hepworth
Thought provoking from the first page. Readable yet entirely serious.Published 17 months ago by Philip Daniel Wicksteed
Thanks Mr Malik, you have just filled one of my needs. I enjoyed a very slow read through a very enjoyable journey. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Mr. G. Webster
This is a remarkable work, describing the moral thinking of a large range of thinkers from the ancient Greeks onwards. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Per Kraulis