Reason’s Grief takes W. B. Yeats’s comment that we begin to live only when we have conceived life as tragedy as a call for a tragic ethics, something the modern West has yet to produce. Harris argues that we must turn away from religious understandings of tragedy and the human condition and realize that our species will occupy a very brief period of history, at some point to disappear without a trace. We must accept an ethical perspective that avoids pernicious fantasies about ultimate redemption but that sees tragic loss as a permanent and pervasive aspect of our daily lives, yet finds a way to think, feel and act with both passion and hope. Reason’s Grief takes us back through the history of our thinking about value to find our way. The call is for nothing less than a paradigm shift for understanding both tragedy and ethics.
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