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The book is beautifully designed by William Rueter and handsomely printed and bound. For the professional, it should serve as an ideal practical mate to a performance practice sourcebook, such as the one forthcoming from Macmillan. For the non-specialist, McGee's readable Guide may well serve as the first and last word on the subjectfor some time to come. (ROSS W. DUFFIN) Michael Ignatieff. The Needs of Strangers Viking. 156. $15.95 This is a remarkable book, at once a personal meditation and a sophisticated work of scholarship. Its main concern is purportedly to find where the distinction lies between two sorts of needs - those that can be satisfied through politics and those that cannot. Needs of the former kind can be specified as legally enforceable rights; their objects are goods we need to survive, such as food and shelter. Needs of the latter kind require acts of virtue unspecifiable as legal or civic obligation; their objects are goods we need to flourish, such as fraternity and respect. A theory of need, Ignatieffcontends, is a language of the human good. But it may not be adequate to our needs. The word 'fraternity: for example, is 'soaked with nostalgia and utopianism.' So we must find a different language to express our need for belonging; otherwise we may cease to feel the need itself. There is a further difficulty: the human good is not free of contradictions. Thus the welfare state tries to enactfraternity in the name of freedom by giving each individual a claim·on common resources so as to equalize everyone's chances at a free life; but the effort fails, for there is a loss of freedom when experts pronounce on the needs of strangers. With considerable skill and inventiveness, Ignatieff marshals an array of diverse sources to anchor his views about needs and his often acute observations about modem society. The first of his sources is King Lear, which he sees both as reflecting on the role of the natural and the social in grounding the claim of need, and as exhibiting the distinction between needs whose satisfaction we have a rightto demand from others and those - chiefly love - of which this is not true. A similar distinction operates in Augustinian theology, between bodily needs and spiritual needs. In David Hume, however, we find a principled rejection of spiritual needs. Our natural needs are sufficient to make us act and we do not question the value of satisfying them. Moreover, natural need is the motor of progress - this is a belief that Hume shares with Adam Smith. But Rousseau is less sangulne; he regards the upward spiral of need as a tragedy of alienation. In the communism of Marx, however, the spiral is brought under control; people are delivered from the slavery of basic needs and enabled to LES ETUDES SOCIALES 255 pursue their desires. Smith was more realistic; he expected that the burden of choosing between needs and desires would always be with us. Ignatieff writes with rare facility. His reading of his sources is interesting and generally convincing. But on the level of argument and analysis, he is less satisfying. Consider, for example, his claim that the idea of need is paired with the idea of duty. This appears to imply that needs make rights. But some needs are not specifiable as legal rights. Accordingly, such needs - for example, our need for love - must make non-legal rights. It follows that we have a right to be loved. But Ignatieff denies this. So in the end his view of the relations between needs and rights is unclear. Furthermore, some of the needs he attributes to us are problematic. Our alleged need for fraternity is a case in point. Is this a universal human need? And what would it be for a person to satisfy it? With little supportingargument, Ignatieffcontroversiallytakes the former question to be empirical, but simply assumes an affirmative answer to it. The latter question, which is philosophical, he does not pursue at all. (DEREK ALLEN) Les Etudes Sociales JEAN-FRAN<;OIS LEONARD C'estle theme de la difference, des fondements d'un ordre de la difference et de I'analyse de ses consequences socio-politiques qui a retenu notre attention cette annee dans la production quebecoise en sciences sociales. Difference hommes-femmes, difference nord-sud, difference entre Ie rural et l'urbain, difference entre les conjonctures et les choix de politiques, entre soi et les autres. Bref une reflexion qui propose une autre vision du monde, une autre ethique, et meme it certains egards, une morale differente. Le plus marque acet egard c'est Ie cineaste-ecrivain Michel Regnier. Siles cineastes ecrivent souvent sur leur carriere, leur metier, ou sur I'objet de celui-ci, il et plus rare qu'ils interviennent pour denoncer I'environnement mediatique et son mode d'analyse et de selection des realMs universelles. Dans L'Humanite seconde (Hurtubise HMH, 276) Michel Regnier se lance corps et ame dans un essai-pamphlet qui examine 'Ie panorama tragique des carences globales qui marquent des peuples dont nous ne pouvons qu'etre solidaires si nous voulons survivre it nos exces.' Cineaste de carriere specialise dans Ie documentaire, il a realise differentes series axees sur les questions sociales qui ont eu un succes certain, dont L'Afrique noire d'hierii demain (1964-13 films), Urbanose (1972 - 13 films), Urba 2000 (1974 - 10 films), et plus recemment Sante-Afrique (1979 - 31 films), Le Creur et Ie riz (1983 - 5 films) et Trois milliards (1984-7 ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 254-255
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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