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Where our virtues came from, what they really mean, and where they may be taking us|
The Other Side of Virtue
Author: Brendan Myers
Publisher: O Books / John Hunt Publishing Co., England
Category: Philosophy, Religion, Ethics Level: Advanced
The Celts, the old Norse and Germanic people, the Greeks of the time of Homer and Hesiod, and other ancient heroic societies are popularly believed to be tribal warrior cultures, where the light of civilisation had not yet dawned. In fact this is far from the case. Many of our own most fundamental ideas about politics, justice, friendship, true love, the good life, and especially the notion of Virtue itself, come from their world. To them, Virtue had nothing to do with purity, nor modesty, nor God-given laws, nor sin and guilt, nor with any Sunday-school pretentiousness. Rather, it originally meant 'excellence' and 'greatness of soul'. It was tied to more assertive qualities like strength and courage, and to social qualities like friendship. It was also connected to spiritual principles like the nature of the soul, the hope for immortality, and even the pursuit of happiness itself.
Using ancient heroic epics and sagas like Beowulf, the Illiad and Odyssey, the Eddas, the Tain Bo Cuailnge, and literature inspired by them including the works of Shakespeare, Tolkien, and J.K. Rowling, this book explains the world-view that gave birth to our virtues. In that world-view, life involves inevitable confrontations with inexplicable events like fortune, nature, other people, and death itself. However, the good life itself becomes possible when we face them and respond to them. Finally, the book calls for a revival of heroic and classical Virtue in our time.
AUTHOR: Brendan Cathbad Myers, Ph.D., has worked as a musician, an environmentalist, a labour union leader, a university lecturer and as a simple country gardener. In 2005 he eared a doctorate in philosophy and ethics from the National University of Ireland, Galway. He has appeared on several U.S. radio stations (including NPR) and half a dozen podcasts, and writes a regular column in several Pagan newsletters and journals. He lives in Southern Ontario, Canada.
"This is one of the most important books you can read. The Other Side of Virtue explores territory that is vitally important to understand at this critical time in our history. Reading it will deepen your soul. It might seem strange to recommend cheating when discussing a book on virtues and ethics, but let me say this: this is one of the most important books you can read, but if you doubt this, turn to the very last two pages of the book and read the final passage marked The Messenger. Better still, start at the beginning and let the book deepen your soul and broaden your understanding."
Philip Carr-Gomm, author of "Sacred Places", and Chosen Chief of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids
"The Other Side of Virtue is a bold reviving of the deepest ethics of past heroic societies, of spirited people living in a world of ultimate immensities, crafting lives of intrinsic value and meaning. This is a book full of fascinating insights and well worth the interest of readers concerned with the ethical dilemmas of the modern world. It is filled with arresting insights, unexpected turns of analysis, and the kind of rich analytic context that will more than repay the efforts made by its readers. It has given me much to think about, and much to re-think."
Gus DiZerega Professor of Political Science, St. Lawrence University, author of "Pagans and Christians" and "Of Fish and Men"
View the book's "move trailer" on YouTube:
Author's Notes: This is my third book, and I believe the best book I have written so far. The ideas I care about the most are in it, and they are expressed with some of my very best quality writing.
Early pagan writers like Gerald Gardner and Alex Sanders wrote for the whole world, not just their own small community! Therefore, I have written a book that will will be of interest to everybody. This is a 'pagan' book that can be read by non-pagans; a spiritual book that will be interesting to non-spiritual people. I believe the ideas expressed in it are socially and philosophically important, not just for pagans, but for the world. Because I care about this book so much, I'm a little nervous about how the public will receive it!
I have listed it as an "advanced" book, which it certainly is; indeed I would like to see it used some day as a college or university textbook. Still, I believe it can be read and appreciated by readers of all levels. To those who complain that there are too many "introductory" style books in the Pagan market, and not enough advanced books that really provoke thought and offer something genuinely new, I'd like to say, "Here you go!"
Where To Buy: In bookstores everywhere (starting 25 July 2008) , various online retailers, and directly from the publisher. Pre-orders can now be taken at amazon.com and amazon.co.uk.
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