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Gentility Recalled

Gentility Recalled
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With crime and illegitimacy soaring, and cities often resembling Hobbes’s state of nature, where life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short,” our policy wonks are hoping that national service, tax credits, etc. will manipulate us into coexisting decently again.

But social order depends far more on attitudes and conduct than on legislation. Gentility Recalled lucidly and thoughtfully explores the enormous role of manners in creating a decent, orderly society and shows that, indeed, it’s the little things that count.

As editor Digby Anderson observes, “It is only when one starts to recall the various sophisticated aspects of manners, the essential tasks they perform, and the millions of tiny incidents that make up that performance, that one understands what a treasure-trove manners provide, and what an act of profligacy it is to attempt to dispense with them.” Manners’ smallness is their strength: By innumerable tiny applications, they become part of one’s character. Manners matter because they instill the self-restraint and consideration for others that enable us to live together peaceably and make us fit for self-government. As Anderson rightly observes, “The crisis in order is a crisis in manners.”

The authors persuasively trace manners’ decline to “de-moralization of society,” or loss of a common morality. This in turn they attribute to the replacement of a moral view of conduct with a therapeutic one; reliance on technical competence rather than personal goodwill; and assaults on traditional morals and manners from leftist ideologues who see them as inegalitarian, hypocritical, and confining. And without a supporting common vision of who and what we are and of how we should treat others, manners collapse

Additional Book Info

ISBN
0970631665
Page Count
207
Publisher
The Social Affairs Unit
Year Published
1996
SKU
1583
Digby Anderson
(Editor)