The Patterns of the Present

Interpreting the Authority of Form

By George Allan

Subjects: Ethics
Series: SUNY series in Philosophy
Paperback : 9780791451649, 323 pages, November 2001
Hardcover : 9780791451632, 323 pages, November 2001

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Table of contents


Tier 7. Structure


7.1 Foundations
7.2 Ideals
7.3 Systems
7.4 Organisms
7.5 Selves
7.6 Worlds
7.7 Histories


Tier 6. Hierarchy


6.1 Nested Contexts
6.2 Ultimate Contexts
6.3 Organismic Individuals
6.4 Persons
6.5 Original Contexts
6.6 Final Context


Tier 5. Duration


5.1 Stabilizing Variation
5.2 Maximizing Fitness
5.3 Interpreting Human Nature
5.4 Making Civil Society
5.5 Reconciling Histories


Tier 4. Virtue


4.1 Character
4.2 Creativity
4.3 Commitment
4.4 Collaboration


Tier 3. Standard


3.1 Life
3.2 Liberty
3.3 Autonomy


Tier 2. Polarity


2.1 One and Many
2.2 First and Last


Tier 1. Apex


1.1 The Pyramid


Works Cited

An original philosophical treatise on form and the foundations of social value.


The third volume in a trilogy by George Allan, The Patterns of the Present argues that organisms, persons, and cultures are all meaningful systems, and that the ontological conditions necessary for their sustained systemic unity provide a normative standard—ideals of virtue and responsibility—by which individuals can judge how best to live their lives and seek a common good. Allan, whose views are influenced by his distinctive interpretations of Plato, Kant, Whitehead, and Pragmatism, argues that values can be justified as objective conditions for belief and action without making an appeal to something beyond time and history.

George Allan is Professor of Philosophy at Dickinson College and Past President of the Metaphysical Society of America. Author of the other books in the trilogy, The Importances of the Past: A Meditation on the Authority of Tradition, The Realizations of the Future: An Inquiry into the Authority of Praxis, both published by SUNY Press, he has also most recently written Rethinking College Education, finalist for the 1999 Ness Prize, Association of American Colleges and Universities.


"One of the most imaginative books in contemporary philosophy I have read." — Robert Cummings Neville, author of Boston Confucianism: Portable Tradition in the Late-Modern World

"A fine work in systematic philosophy. There is much thought and learning behind these pages, but the learning is worn lightly as the thoughtfulness shines through." — William Desmond, author of Ethics and the Between