Today those who believe in liberal democracy must reexamine and reaffirm their commitments. Here, Charles Anderson probes our urgent concerns and questions. Even those who believe that liberal democracy is the best form of government may think that liberal individualism leads to selfishness, permissiveness, and irresponsibility. Many would teach a cultural or religious counterethic to offset the excesses of freedom. Grounding his view in classic philosophic and religious ideals, Anderson argues that a deeper vision of individuality and freedom can lead to both a sound public philosophy and a worthy personal ethic. In the same way that we as humans try to understand our place in nature and the cosmos, Anderson seeks to understand how we, as unique individuals, can understand our place among our fellow humans. Beginning with friendship and love, he extends his inquiry to the relationships of teaching, community, work, and democracy. Anderson shows how the natural desire of free people to find meaning in relationships with one another can lead to depth and fullness both in private and public life.
Charles W. Anderson is professor emeritus of political science and in the Integrated Liberal Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His many books include Prescribing the Life of the Mind, also published by the University of Wisconsin Press, Pragmatic Liberalism, and Statecraft.