Kindness and the Good Society

Connections of the Heart

By William S. Hamrick

Subjects: Health Care
Series: SUNY series in the Philosophy of the Social Sciences
Paperback : 9780791452660, 344 pages, January 2002
Hardcover : 9780791452653, 344 pages, February 2002

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Table of contents



Part I

1. Acts and Omissions

2. Personal Kindness

3. The Agency of Kindness

4. Social Atmospheres, Technology, and Nature

5. Institutions and Community

Part II

6. The Hermeneutic Challenge

7. Ideologies

8. Critical Kindness: Towards an Aesthetic Humanism




A comprehensive account of human kindness.


Winner of the 2004 Edward Goodwin Ballard Book Prize in Phenomenology presented by the Center for Advanced Research in Phenomenology with interest from a fund raised from Professor Ballard's family, students, and friends

Kindness and the Good Society utilizes phenomenology and a wide variety of traditional and non-traditional sources to provide the first comprehensive account of kindness in any genre of philosophy. Remarkably rich in descriptive detail and drawing upon a wide range of examples, including literary sources, current affairs, and traditional philosophical texts, Hamrick's book rescues kindness from the purposeful neglect of deontological and utilitarian ethical theories. Beginning with an account of the personal and social areas of ethical and moral comportment, Hamrick addresses what is not intuitively obvious about kindness and its opposite, details a critical kindness that avoids both naiveté as well as popular cynicism, and guides us toward a new notion of aesthetic humanism.

William S. Hamrick is Professor of Philosophy at Southern Illinois University. He is the author of An Existential Phenomenology of Law: Maurice Merleau-Ponty and the editor of Phenomenology in Practice and Theory.


"Hamrick's discussion is detailed, wide-ranging, and insightful … [his] work should be required reading for anyone working on kindness. " — Journal of Speculative Philosophy

"Hamrick may very well have done for kindness what Merleau-Ponty has done for perception, Ricoeur for freedom, and Dufrenne for aesthetic experience. Hamrick's is a definitive, comprehensive study, against which all future studies of kindness will be measured and to which they will have to respond. " — James L. Marsh, author of Process, Praxis, and Transcendence