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A Small Treatise on the Great Virtues

The Uses of Philosophy in Everyday Life

André Comte-Sponville

Metropolitan Books

An utterly original exploration of the timeless human virtues and how they apply to the way we live now, from a bold and dynamic French writer.

In this graceful, incisive book, writer-philosopher André Comte-Sponville reexamines the classic human virtues to help us under-stand "what we should do, who we should be, and how we should live." In the process, he gives us an entirely new perspective on the value, the relevance, and even the charm of the Western ethical tradition.

Drawing on thinkers from Aristotle to Simone Weil, by way of Aquinas, Kant, Rilke, Nietzsche, Spinoza, and Rawls, among others, Comte-Sponville elaborates on the qualities that constitute the essence and excellence of humankind. Starting with politeness -- almost a virtue -- and ing with love -- which transcs all morality -- A Small Treatise on the Great Virtues takes us on a tour of the eighteen essential virtues: fidelity, prudence, temperance, courage, justice, generosity, compassion, mercy, gratitude, humility, simplicity, tolerance, purity, gentleness, good faith, and even, surprisingly, humor.Sophisticated and lucid, full of wit and vivacity, this modestly titled yet immensely important work provides an indispensable guide to finding what is right and good in everyday life.

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A Small Treatise on the Great Virtues
1POLITENESSPoliteness is the first virtue, and the origin perhaps of all the others. It is also the poorest, the most superficial, and the most debatable of the virtues, and possibly something other than a virtue as well. In any case, as virtues go it’s a small one, an easy virtue, one might say, as used to be said in reference to certain women. Politeness doesn’t care about morality, and vice versa. If a Nazi is polite, does that change anything about Nazism or the horrors of Nazism? No. It changes nothing, and this nothing is the very hallmark
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Praise for A Small Treatise on the Great Virtues

"Comte-Sponville's way of approaching well-known themes is almost scandalously original; this book is a quest for wisdom." --Tzvetan Todorov, author of Facing the Extreme

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • André Comte-Sponville

  • André Comte-Sponville is one of the most important and popular of the new wave of young French philosophers. Now in his early forties, he teaches at the Sorbonne and is the author of five highly acclaimed scholarly books of classical philosophy. A Small Treatise on the Great Virtues spent fourteen months on the French bestseller list and is being translated into nineteen languages. He lives in Paris.
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Available Formats and Book Details

A Small Treatise on the Great Virtues

The Uses of Philosophy in Everyday Life

André Comte-Sponville

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Metropolitan Books

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