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564 BOOK REVIEWS illuminating re-examination of the category of inwardness in Kierkegaard 's writings. The majority of the essays in the hook are similarly suggestive and will prove rewarding and interesting reading-they echo the aim and gift, share by Wittgenstein and Kierkegaard, of "making their readers thinkers" (xvi). University of Virginia Charlottesville, Virginia M. JAMIE FERREIRA Let the Future Come. By WILFRED DESAN. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 1987. Pp. 152. $9.95 (paper). Toward a lust Social Order. By DEREK L. PHILLIPS. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986. Pp. 434. $12.50. After several decades of doldrum thinking, social ethics, i.e., personal and political ethics done on the same canvas, is undergoing a welcome renewal. Perhaps spurred by the growing awareness of the massive problems of our tiny planet, thinkers from diverse areas are beginning to offer what the social sciences call "grand theory." Both Desan and Phillips make valuable contributions to this project and represent the best levels of refleotion from the teleological and deontological perspectives respectively. Desan's essay is the final volume of three, hut may be read independently of the earlier studies, discussed by this reviewer in 1973 in The Thomist (Vol. 37, pp. 249-255). If Desan has a core concept for his thinking it is planetary peace and the human individual as gardener and guardian of this admittedly future state of affairs. Phillips, critically inheriting the Anglo-American rights tradition, focuses on the person, not the planet, on the distinctiveness of the part, not on Desan's projeotion of a whole humanum composed of parts (each a member of the human community yet only a member) . The metaphysical background here, then, is the whole-of-parts versus partsĀ·of-awhole dialectic. Read together the two works would truly stimulate a graduate ethics seminar, for we see the renewal of ethical ,thinking against some classical ontological themes. For Desan, the person is homo custos, self-aware becoming otheraware ; for Phillips, the person is the source and enactor of rights. He offers heavy criticism of the virtue/community school's orientation towards the common good of society, with subsidiary private rights located within that context. This is the weakest part of his massive survey of recent ethics. Phillips simply cannot see the reality of human community, which is exactly what Desan is determined to project as BOOK REVIEWS 565 our only possible future. Desan's combination of Thomism and Hegel stands to the far side of Phillips's Lockean stress on private rights as the base criterion for any future just public order. We will look first at Desan's final effort to summarize a notion of " planetary " existence that will be valid both individually and communally and then turn to Phillips's detailed, Rawls-like approach. Desan's argument against the primacy of the individual over the world community was carefully nuanced in his two earlier volumes; he has no intention of denigrating the person in order to celebrate the planet, and he is no partisan of the " deep ecology " effort to elevate nature above the sub-category human nature. His planet is social and political, a cosmic existent dependent upon specifically human activitynot individual activity at either the personal or national levels but activity at the level of the total earth population. He is not so much detailing yet another agenda for a New World Order as he is striving to raise modern individualized consciousness to a height where the reality of interdependency is rationally undeniable. Desan's appreciative critique of Husserl's individualized consciousness in his first volume, A Noetic Prelude to a United World, displayed the plight of personalized consciousness as against planetary awareness. In this final panel of his triptych, he synthesizes that critique: "Where the individual Observer is the magister, there are as many worlds as there are magistri." This privatized existence is not to be denied but rather seen for what it is: a limit instead of a secure startpoint for either ethical or epistemological theory. His second volume stressed that our very awareness of this limitation gives rise, perhaps in a Hegelian dialectic, to potential for participation in global existence. To resist this cooperative...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2473-3725
Print ISSN
0040-6325
Pages
pp. 564-570
Launched on MUSE
2017-04-05
Open Access
No
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