Virtues for a Fragile Life: Hope, Trust, Honesty, & Forgiveness explores four ways in which ethical life struggles with failure and our limited grasp of ourselves, the good, and the world required for its realization. Each capacity — hope, trust, honesty, and forgiveness — is explored as a multifaceted, sometimes incongruous ability to recognize and pursue possibilities that are fraught with vulnerability and uncertainty. But were we incapable of pivoting along these lines, our personal and social lives would be profoundly diminished, possibly collapsing outright. In keeping with my recent work, each essay combines short essays with aphorisms and observations, and looks at a wide range of texts ranging from ordinary language to political speeches and initiatives to artworks and philosophical studies. Finitude impresses profound limits upon us. How do we acknowledge and strive to surpass them? Hope, trust, honesty, and forgiveness open essential routes toward flourishing.
Friendship: The Unqualified Good? is an extended meditation on the nature of friendship. Like Philosophy, Writing, and the Character of Thought, it combines short essays with aphorisms and observations, offering its own position in the company of engagements with canonical and non-canonical texts, in this case, Aristotle, Montaigne, and Emerson (among others), as well as stories, poems, and films. It argues that friendship is a decisive site for vital goods such as companionship, recognition, and moral enlargement, but of far less political value than many thinkers have suggested. It also confronts how patterns of socialization can lead friendships to narrow our ethical horizons. The book thus explores the challenges and opportunities that friendships poses across identities often segregated by gender, race, sexuality, class, or ethnicity, and it explores the idea that our relations with non-human animals might also be regarded as a kind of friendships. “Friendship” names a broad, evolving field of relationships. But even as it continues to morph, it remains integral to human well being.