Richard

LIBERATE YOURSELF FROM THE PROTESTANT WORK ETHIC

LIBERATE YOURSELF FROM THE PROTESTANT WORK ETHIC

What do you detest?  There will be many different answers from you all.  But I bet that none of you have this rather eccentric answer of mine – I detest the Protestant work ethic. Now, this may seem strange.  The Protestant ethic was discussed in a seminal series of articles by the great German sociologist, Max Weber, in 1904-5.  Weber argued that Protestantism glorified the calling of...

Read More

SAINTS ANCIENT & MODERN

SAINTS ANCIENT & MODERN

In researching my next book, I’ve taken nineteen people, some dead, some alive, who were in my opinion, “unreasonably successful” – that is, they achieved much more than might have been expected of them, and in some cases despite, or because of, marked character flaws.  What has struck me as worthy of comment – though this is not a theme of the book – is how two of the most important...

Read More

SKIN IN THE GAME: A DOZEN ACTION IMPERATIVES

SKIN IN THE GAME: A DOZEN ACTION IMPERATIVES

I am a somewhat reluctant fan of Nicholas Nassim Taleb, and having finished his latest book, Skin in the Game, I settled down to write a review.  But this is hard.  Taleb doesn’t make it easy to summarize his thesis, and he shoots off at all kinds of fascinating tangents, some well-grounded, others which are pure flights of fancy. In the latter category, for example, is his amusing but...

Read More

WHY THE WEST IS DIFFERENT, BUT CAN UNITE THE WORLD IN PROSPERITY

WHY THE WEST IS DIFFERENT, BUT CAN UNITE THE WORLD IN PROSPERITY

Anthropologist Richard Shweder explains that there is a fundamental difference between Western and non-Western concepts of morality.  Non-Western traditions, he says, have rich theories of moralizing, but they are based either on the ethic of community, or that of divinity. The former involves the norms of the social group, laden with values such as duty, respect, deference, and adherence to...

Read More

THE CHAINS OF FREEDOM

THE CHAINS OF FREEDOM

There is a tendency to believe that individualism is the product of the last century, or of neo-conservative ideology, or of the consumer society.  But that’s wrong.  The truth is that individualism evolved slowly over more than two thousand years.  It is the complex product of Greek, Jewish, European and American thought and history.  It is also a most noble and ethically demanding...

Read More