Metaphysics of Goodness
Harmony and Form, Beauty and Art, Obligation and Personhood, Flourishing and Civilization
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Develops a theory of culture based on a metaphysics that elaborates on the Platonic and Confucian traditions.
In Metaphysics of Goodness, Robert Cummings Neville extends Alfred North Whitehead's project of cultural studies, which was based on a new metaphysics that Whitehead developed in Adventures of Ideas. Neville's focus is value or goodness in many modes. The metaphysics treated in this book derive from the Platonic and Confucian traditions, with significant modifications of Whitehead, Peirce, Dewey, Confucius, Xunzi, and Zhou Dunyi. Part one develops a theory of form based on a metaphysics of harmony. Part two elaborates a theory of art based on a metaphysics of beauty. Part three sketches a theory of personhood based on a metaphysics of obligation. Part four discusses civilization in a systematic way based on a metaphysics of flourishing. Throughout the book, Neville elaborates a theory of interpretation that is inspired by Peirce, Dewey, and Xunzi but is not limited to their ideas. While the reasoning of the book is concise, it employs methodologies from many kinds of philosophy, art criticism, ethics, and cultural studies, and sees philosophy as needing to learn from all these disciplines.
Robert Cummings Neville is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Religion, and Theology and Dean Emeritus of the School of Theology at Boston University. He is the author of many books, including Defining Religion: Essays in Philosophy of Religion and The Good Is One, Its Manifestations Many: Confucian Essays on Metaphysics, Morals, Rituals, Institutions, and Genders, both also published by SUNY Press.
"In Metaphysics of Goodness, Neville shows yet again that Boston Confucianism is indeed a world philosophical tradition, one richer by far because of its dual engagement of the Chinese and Greek traditions from the situation of American pragmatism. Longtime readers of Neville will, of course, devour this book. But they aren't the only ones. New readers, particularly those with interests in comparative philosophy, speculative metaphysics, and fresh, singular treatments of value theory, will find much to reflect on and ponder in these pages." — Reading Religion
"Neville's work is informed by a lifelong engagement with the most important philosophers in history, including Plato, Aristotle, Whitehead, and Dewey. Here, he offers an important argument that there is beauty not only in how people see the world, but also in the world itself." — Kevin Schilbrack, Appalachian State University