A Common Humanity: Thinking about Love and Truth and Justice

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Routledge, 1999 - Philosophy - 293 pages
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During the Spanish Civil War, George Orwell was asked why he could not shoot an enemy soldier who was running holding up his trousers. Orwell replied I had come here to shoot at Fascists; but a man who is holding up his trousers isn't a Fascist. This work focuses on what predicaments such as Orwell's tell us about humanity. Drawing on a wealth of examples including the Holocaust and attempts to deny it, the trial of Adolf Eichmann, the taking of children of mixed blood from Aboriginal parents in Australia, and the work of Primo Levi, Hannah Arendt and Simone Weil, Raimond Gaita sets out a provocative picture of our common humanity. He urges us to recognize that whilst many of these examples call into question whether there is such a thing as a common humanity, it is not the idea of humanity that is at fault. It is the empty language of rights and obligations we use to explain what a human being is. It leaves no room for our ability to love other human beings and to share with them grief, hope, built, shame and remorse.

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A common humanity: thinking about love and truth and justice

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Winner of the Victoria Prize for Literature for Good and Evil: An Absolute Conception, Gaita (philosophy, Kings Coll., UK) argues that much contemporary moral philosophy is misguided. Both utilitarian ... Read full review

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About the author (1999)

Raimond Gaita is professor of moral philosophy at King's College, University of London and foundation professor of philosophy at the Australian Catholic University. In 2007, his award-winning memoir Romulus, My Father was turned into a feature film starring Eric Bana and Franka Potente. His other books include Good and Evil: An Absolute Conception, A Common Humanity, The Philosopher's Dog and Why the War Was Wrong (as editor and contributor).

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