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118 letters in canada 2002 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 important, is Christian moralism, even the nuanced kind Visser has in mind, really the solution to the addictions and consumption spirals of everyday life? Experience appears to indicate the opposite B that, indeed, contemporary society has been able to fold itself comfortably around Christian moralism without much effort, and that this, not an alleged penchant for giving in to fatalism, is now our deepest problem. On all these points, Visser would have found much food for thought in the work of a recently deceased moral philosopher, Bernard Williams, whose influential books of Greek-inflected ethics, Shame and Necessity and Moral Luck, add humour and wisdom, even while taking full measure of life=s tragic dimension, to the contemporary philosophers she does cite, including Alasdair MacIntyre and Charles Taylor. The other significant omission, to my mind, is Ian Hacking=s ground-breaking work, The Taming of Chance, which traces the early modern world=s shifting relationship to fate and chance via the new field of probability theory. But these are bibliographic quibbles; I doubt they would alter Visser=s basic argument in favour of Christian improvement. Cultural observers from Aristotle and Juvenal in the ancient world to Nietzsche and Veblen in the modern have known that the vices of excess and indulgence, the posturing and jockeying for position so typical of human society, are not diminished by sermons and scolding. Critics invariably do better to find levers of pragmatic self-interest, signs of deteriorating health, and even claims about immanent happiness and human flourishing. Visser agrees with Hume (though she does not cite him) that justice is an artificial virtue: we make it up as we go along, finding languages and ideas that will help us realize it (human rights, the rule of law, toleration), even as we acknowledge that the might-makes-right natural world will not generate justice on its own. But she goes too far, as contemporary geneticists also go too far, in seeing nature as wholly indifferent to our desire for justice, and therefore concluding that our best option is a transcendental one. We, too, with all our conflicted cravings and bright hopes, are part of the natural world B for there is no other. Aristotle saw this, and also saw that any escape from fate and the limits imposed by it was to be found not in some transcendental move but, instead, in ourselves. A god cannot save us if there is no god; only we can save ourselves B right here, right now. (MARK KINGWELL) Frances Froman, Alfred Keye, Lottie Keye, and Carrie Dyck. English-Cayuga Cayuga-English Dictionary University of Toronto Press. xli, 744. $150.00 Writing a dictionary is an enormous task. In a recent book edited by William Frawley, Kenneth Hill, and Pamela Munro, Making Dictionaries. Preserving Indigenous Languages of the Americas, the editors set out what they humanities 119 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 call lexicographic war stories on making dictionaries. These include the following: >how difficult it was to know where to begin; how the project went on and on and the book kept expanding from a modest list of words and glosses to something like a cultural encyclopedia; how, when the work was finally completed and published, some people were unimpressed, and even mean-spirited and critical B AWhat! You forgot to include ...???.@= The authors of the book under review undoubtedly experienced many of these feelings. The dictionary was compiled by a team including Cayuga language teachers at Six Nations (Frances Froman, Alfred J. Keye, Lottie Keye) and a linguist (Carrie J. Dyck) and was produced under the auspices of the Sweetgrass First Nations Language Council. The work was done over seven years, and involved many people. The dictionary has over three thousand entries, including, according to the description on the jacket, one thousand verb forms and many nouns never before recorded in print; extensive cross-referencing; thematic appendices that highlight cultural references and list sixteen hundred further entries; and a brief grammatical overview. It is a work of many years, and much care and love has...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 118-120
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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