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Write a customer review. There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. This is a deeply thoughtful book. Haskell is an excellent historian who brings to his reflections on his craft a deeply informed philosophical bent. This book is a collection of his writings from over twenty years. The first thing to note is that the title of the book may be somewhat misleading. It is the title of a review that he wrote of Peter Novick's great book, That Noble Dream, on the history of the historical profession in the United States.
Haskell's main thrust in that essay and the others that make up the middle section of the book is that objectivity is a social process to which individuals contribute provided that they have or develop a willingness to submit to perpetual criticism.
To Haskell, the core skill required is the ability to suspend one's own POV and to "enter sympathetically into the alien and possible repugnant perspectives of rival thinkers" p. This is much more effortful than it sounds but more on that later.
This whole section of the book is an examination of how the ideal of professionalism developed, what it entails, what constitutes its philosophical and political justifications and how it gets practiced or not practiced currently. One of his many points that is worth pondering is to recognize that most of what we take for granted as our commonsensical knowledge of the world is based on expert opinion.
One of the sad ironies of the current state of science is that even though our knowledge of the world gets increasingly arcane and complex and therefore increasingly hard for us to judge, the grounds we have for trusting experts seem to be increasingly shakey. One of the things that I like about Haskell's book is the way he takes the time to develop subtle arguments. The third section of the book is an example of this.
Haskell puts forth an original and powerful thesis that is a variation of the old idea that it is anachronistic to judge the past by the standards of the present. Haskell goes deeper than that. He is interested in what he calls, "the conventions of moral responsibility" These are the rules for assessing blame, responsibility and praise. Haskell's point is that over time more and more of our societal and personal life has come to be seen as something that we have control over.
This has occurred in part because we have come to have an increasingly rich repertoire of recipes Haskell's term drawing on the work of philosophers H. Hart, Douglas Gasking and Joel Feinberg that allow us to accurately work our way to a desired result. As the recipes spread in use through out a society and as it becomes increasingly possible for individuals to control the shape of their future, the arena of moral culpability grows. We cannot be held accountable for what we cannot reasonably change.
We can be held accountable for not living up to everyday standards. Haskell applies these ideas to the rise of the humanitarianism during the late s and early s. He points out the example of abolitionists like Wendell Phillips who early on in his career maintained a distinction between the exploitation of slaves and that of poor white laborers. At some point in the s it became less common to assume that the lower classes of whites were completely responsible for their situation.
Up until then, their plight had been seen to be the result of their moral laxity or their inability to master the arts of self-mastery. As the culture began to acknowledge the possibility that the working poor may not have much control over much of the circumstances of their lives, it became less possible to hold them accountable and reformers like Phillips showed greater and greater sympathy for their plight. Haskell feels that the rise of capitalism was instrumental in the developing of the culture of humanitarianism.
I will leave it to you to read his book to see how he develops this argument. Regardless of how you end up judging his success I found his argument to be more intriguing than convincing , I believe you will be persuaded by his idea that such a history of the conventions of moral responsibility is necessary in order to have a true appreciation of the past.
As I said at the beginning, this is a deeply thoughtful book. It does not stake out popular nor easy positions but challenges the reader to really engage the past in a way that may be as revealing about our own moral presuppositions as about those of the period or people we are studying.
I found it to be very much worth the time and effort of careful reading. As with some of the best intellectual history, these collected essays by Haskell are best digested slowly, but will pay huge dividends when one realizes the breadth and depth displayed by Haskell. Even though some essays have been previously published, Haskell offers illuminating insights as to the formation of the rationale behind his movitations for writing the essays, including the specific historical context.
American history has greatly benefited from Haskell's desire to probe disciplines that are not always welcome to historiansmainly because historians can locate "soft spots" that might have otherwise remained out of sight to its native practitioners. Then read each part once more, but this time highlight some of the key points. When you have a clear understanding of the information in each part of the source, write down the main idea in each section in the form of a short overview.
It should briefly present the main ideas in the original text. The introduction should include the name of the author, the title of their work, and some background information about the author, if needed. Expand on them by including one or more examples from the original text. Include important information only and avoid describing minor, insignificant points. After you have summarized the main ideas in the original text, your essay is finished.
A conclusion paragraph should be added if your teacher specifically tells you to include one. Summary Essay Topics You can write a summary essay on a scientific work, an interesting article, a novel, or a research paper. For example, you might want to write a summary essay on: Keep in mind that your interpretation of the source can mislead your readers or even distort the meaning of the original text.
Your summary essay should serve as a substitute for the original source; by reading your summary essay, a reader should be able to develop an understanding of the original work. This type of essay is about summarizing the original text, not criticizing it. Otherwise, it may look like plagiarism.
Do write in present tense, even if the author of the original text has passed away a long time ago. Do understand the original source completely. If you have doubts about the meaning of certain terms, clarify them before you start to write. You may find a nice place to insert a new quotation, correct some mistakes, and make other improvements.
You can also give your essay to a friend or a colleague to read to see if they can grasp the main idea of the source after reading your summary essay. You literally need to repeat the information given in the original text, but in a shorter frame and in your own words.
Your task is to summarize, not give a personal opinion. Focus only on the most important points. Common Mistakes — Including too much or too little information in your essay. Ask an expert for FREE. Popular Questions Thesis statement and compare contrast essay asked by Admin What is a good thesis statement against euthanasia asked by Anonymous Gender stereotypes persuasive essay asked by Admin Which of the following would best work as the title of an explanatory essay?
Othello: Essay Topics 1) Some have said that the focus of Othello is not the title character, as is the case with Shakespeare's other great tragedies, Macbeth, King Lear, and khangtran.cf Othello simply too one-dimensional to be considered a great tragic hero? Does his seemingly unrealistic gullibility lessen our interest in him and his suffering?
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