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The Ethical Crises of Civilization

The Ethical Crises of Civilization
Moral Meltdown or Advance

August 1993 | 368 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
From the crisis confronting the former Yugoslav state to an increase in crime in our cities, humanity today has arrived at a perilous crossroad. According to Leslie Lipson, we have arrived at a critical stage in human history, a stage framed in a lowering of ethical standards. The Ethical Crises of Civilization examines those periods in history where similar crossroads occurred, crossroads that could serve as examples for confronting--and solving--today's problems. Lipson argues that through such an examination of the past, humanity might be able to comprehend what is at stake and be impelled to collective and individual action. The Ethical Crises of Civilization is a book that should be read by all scholars and students in a wide array of disciplines, including history, political science, religious studies, philosophy, anthropology, and sociology. About this volume . . . "This book is written in the tradition of Spengler and Toynbee, but my focus differs sharply from theirs. I am attempting to evaluate the course of civilization--its benefits and its curses--at a time when its potentiality for either good or evil has been vastly increased. My study has drawn principally on the record of four major civilizations still in existence today--the Chinese, Indian, Islamic, and Western. The values and the standards of judgement are those of a humanist emphasizing our needs in this life in this world and not believing in salvation in some other existence. I consider that the present system of government by so-called nation-states is becoming obsolete and will be replaced in the Twenty-First Century, and that the organized religious are responsible for dividing humanity into separate, and often hostile, groupings." -- Leslie Lipson, Ph.D. Praise for this volume . . . "Professor Lipson draws on his deep interest in history to assess the progress of civilizations toward increasing their ethical content. He sees a growing awareness of ethical choices (advance) as well as a growing danger of civilizations' self-destruction (melt-down). He argues that it is the obligation of a scholar to contribute to the understanding of both ethical issues and values. The author treats this difficult subject matter with impressive knowledge, humor, originality, and with literary grace. --World Affairs Council of Northern California "An important and quite original contribution to the large and growing literature on the general theory of civilization, going back in about the last 100 years to Hegel, Spengler, Brooks Adams, Albert Schweitzer, Arnold Toynbee, and so on. . . . Makes an important contribution to this discipline, bringing many new ideas into it. . . . It has an easy, almost conversational style. . ." --Kenneth E. Boulding, late of the University of Colorado at Boulder, Distinguished Professor of Economics "This book attempts something which is very unfashionable in our days: It examines, sympathetically but critically, the thesis that history is 'progressive,' that civilizations are improving because their ethical content is increasing. . . . And [the author] does it with wit, verve, and a marvelous style that makes almost every sentence a joy to read. He also displays a most impressive knowledge of history and literature. . . . This is an unusual book. Despite the difference between my taste and the author's, I found it to be an original, courageous, and highly enlightening inquiry into a subject that cries out for serious treatment, not merely tracts that celebrate the end of communism or proclaim the beginning of a new age in which western values no longer dominate, or even serve as guidelines in non-western parts of the world. Its lack of conventionality, its intellectual originality . . . ought to appeal to historically-minded people who are tired of having their values and judgements debunked by the sound bites of particularistic notions of ethics." --Ernst B. Haas, Robson Research Professor of Government, University of California at Berkeley "Professor Leslie Lipson's newest book, The Ethical Crises of Civilization: Moral Meltdown or Advance?,is a sweeping examination of the major moral transitions in human history." --World Affairs Council of Northern California About the author . . . Interpreting the course of human history, and using the past as a guide to the present and the future, has been Leslie Lipson's abiding intellectual interest. In addition to his 33 years of service as Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley, he is known in the United States and abroad as an author, visiting lecturer, and consultant to international agencies. He has worked for the United Nations in Brazil and for the Atlantic Institute in Paris; he founded the academic discipline of political science in New Zealand; and he has lectured under the auspices of the U.S.I.A. at universities in Europe and Asia. His best-known book, The Great Issues of Politics, in print since 1954 and now in its ninth edition, has been translated into eight languages and is studied in universities worldwide. His other major work, The Democratic Civilization, has also been widely translated and is considered by many to be a classic in its field. Of his many articles, some have been in the Encyclopedia Britannica (1969 edition) and in Unesco's Dictionary of the Social Sciences. Other articles have appeared in professional journals of several countries and in other media. Leslie Lipson came to the United States as a Commonwealth Fund Fellow from Balliol College, Oxford University, where he was a senior scholar, and took his doctorate in political science at the University of Chicago. The University of California has honored him with the award of the "Berkeley Citation." In addition to his academic pursuits, he is known nationally for his 13 years of participation in the Public Broadcasting System's weekly televised program, "World Press," on which he reported the press of Great Britain.

Prologue - The Paradox of Our Time
This-Worldly China, Other-Worldly India
The Split Personality of Western Civilization
The Rise and Decline of Civilizations
Creative Eras and Areas
Humanity's First Great Moral Advance
The Enlightment and the Age of Progress
The Two Profiles of the Contemporary World
Our Rights and Duties, and Our Education

The Two Profiles of the Contemporary World (Continued)
Social and Political Patterns

Into a New Millennium

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ISBN: 9780803952430