Guggenheim Fellow Gardner (Psychology/Harvard Univ.; Five Minds for the Future, 2007, etc.) delivers a treatise on how best to define and develop the concepts of truth, beauty and goodness in a digital world.
Employing a multidisciplinary approach, the author attacks the notion that cultural relativism and the “chaos” of Web 2.0 negate the existence and/or usefulness of this trio of virtue. He treats these concepts in three separate chapters because, as he is quick to point out, they are not interchangeable. For each concept, Gardner supplies a simple, though certainly not dictionary-worthy, core definition, tracks how humanity has previously denoted and related to the concept and then discusses how each must evolve to reflect the changes in the 21st century. He gives special consideration to combating postmodernist defeatism and addressing social media's growing role. Gardner also elucidates how the young and not-so-young can implement these new definitions, and how different age groups can engage in complementary manners as they strive toward the same goals. The author is a fluent and articulate writer, and his clarity is further enhanced by the helpful summaries that conclude each section or subsection. Gardner’s philosophy will not satisfy all readers—e.g., his definition of beauty is particularly narrow and subjective—but this work will likely instigate others to participate in the discussion.
A clear and informative view of the changing classical virtues.