JMC Director of Stewardship Yael Levin Hungerford reviews JMC fellow Leon Kass’ book, Leading a Worthy Life: Finding Meaning in Modern Times in the City Journal.
Map for Modern Life
Philosopher Leon Kass’s new essay collection offers lessons that run against the spirit of our age.
Much of American culture today causes right-thinking people to despair, from the degradation of political discourse and higher education to the hookup culture and the decades-long decline in marriage and fertility rates. And on the horizon, looming advances in artificial intelligence threaten to transform our world in ways that we cannot yet imagine.
In Leading a Worthy Life, the renowned bioethicist and teacher Leon Kass responds not with despair but with hope. Yes, ours is an age of skepticism, both religious and cultural—and of distraction and directionless busy-ness, too. But Kass points out that the fundamental desire to live meaningfully persists. He presents wisdom intended to redirect individuals to the goods that most fully furnish a meaningful life: marriage, children, and friendship; vocation; service to country and community; and the pursuit of understanding. Our culture’s current weakness might offer an opportunity to reexamine these components of a worthwhile life; after all, it was during a time of civic and cultural crisis that Socrates instructed Athenian youth about the examined life.
Yael Levin Hungerford recently received her Ph.D. in political theory from Boston College, where she studied the great texts and thinkers of the Western tradition and perennial human questions. Her dissertation, on the political thought of the American philosopher Charles S. Peirce, examines Peirce’s practical conservatism and his teaching about the nature and purpose of a proper liberal arts education in a modern republic. She has previously worked in a variety of capacities for the Tikvah Fund and the American Enterprise Institute, and holds an A.B. in philosophy from the University of Chicago.
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