A Small Treatise On The Great Virtues by Andre Comte-Sponville
The Uses of Philosophy in Everyday Life

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An utterly original exploration of the timeless human virtues and how they apply to the way we live now, from a bold and dynamic French writer.

In this graceful, incisive book, writer-philosopher André Comte-Sponville reexamines the classic human virtues to help us under-stand "what we should do, who we should be, and how we should live." In the process, he gives us an entirely new perspective on the value, the relevance, and even the charm of the Western ethical tradition.

Drawing on thinkers from Aristotle to Simone Weil, by way of Aquinas, Kant, Rilke, Nietzsche, Spinoza, and Rawls, among others, Comte-Sponville elaborates on the qualities that constitute the essence and excellence of humankind. Starting with politeness -- almost a virtue -- and ing with love -- which transcs all morality -- A Small Treatise on the Great Virtues takes us on a tour of the eighteen essential virtues: fidelity, prudence, temperance, courage, justice, generosity, compassion, mercy, gratitude, humility, simplicity, tolerance, purity, gentleness, good faith, and even, surprisingly, humor.Sophisticated and lucid, full of wit and vivacity, this modestly titled yet immensely important work provides an indispensable guide to finding what is right and good in everyday life.


About Andre Comte-Sponville

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André Comte-Sponville is one of the most important and popular of the new wave of young French philosophers. Now in his early forties, he teaches at the Sorbonne and is the author of five highly acclaimed scholarly books of classical philosophy. A Small Treatise on the Great Virtues spent fourteen months on the French bestseller list and is being translated into nineteen languages. He lives in Paris.
Published September 1, 2002 by Metropolitan Books. 368 pages
Genres: Law & Philosophy, Self Help, History. Non-fiction

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Comte-Sponville relishes challenging the paradoxes inherent in contemporary mores, as in his assertion that “universal tolerance would also be self-contradictory in practical terms and thus not just morally reprehensible but also politically doomed.” Elsewhere, he explores the fine distinctions t...

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The New York Times

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The point of a treatise on the virtues, for Comte-Sponville, is ''to understand what we should do, what we should be and how we should live, and thereby gauge, at least intellectually, the distance that separates us from these ideals.'' He picked his virtues by asking himself ''what the dispositi...

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Publishers Weekly

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But as we have seen, the same is true of most virtues, and as an argument against humor it proves nothing, except of course that humor itself proves nothing."

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