THE TYRANNY OF SURVIVAL and Other Pathologies of Civilized Life by Daniel Callahan

THE TYRANNY OF SURVIVAL and Other Pathologies of Civilized Life

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A serious group of essays centering around two philosophical oppositions. One juxtaposes selfish individualism and public morality, the second the collective urge for survival and individual human rights. Callahan's study of Freud's Civilization and Its Discontents and the writings of Philip Rieff have led him to pessimistic conclusions of a kind associated with classical conservatives. He acknowledges that the tough issues he raises stem from economic scarcity -- whether society should bear the costs of defective children or forbid people to have them, which kidney patients should get costly dialysis treatment, etc. But he denies that a sounder, richer society is possible. Callahan is no ghoulish romantic reactionary: he doesn't glorify death, though he fears that medical progress means a worse ""population problem,"" even if he has a positive appreciation of technology. But, given his rejection of Kantian ethical hopes or social reconstruction, he has to remain a pessimist. One can appreciate his measured approach and his critiques of post-Freudian, pseudo-Marxist nostrums for liberation, like Charles Reich's, while questioning -- as so many of his critics have done -- Freud's premises about human beings. Author of Abortion: Law, Choice and Morality (1970) and director of the Institute for Society, Ethics and the Life Sciences, Callahan has written a sober, tough-minded critique of our less than perfect civilization.

Pub Date: Nov. 8th, 1973
ISBN: 0819146366
Publisher: Macmillan