Freedom and Limits is a defense of the value of freedom in the context of human finitude. A contribution to the American tradition of philosophy, it focuses attention on moral problems as we encounter them in daily life, where the search for perfection and the incessant drive to meet obligations make it difficult to attain satisfaction. The book argues that uniformity is unproductive: Human natures are varied and changeable, making the effort to impose a unitary good on everyone futile. Moreover, we don't need to strive for more than what is good enough: Finite achievements should be adequate to satisfy finite people.
The ultimate aim of the book is to reclaim the role of philosophy as a guide to life. In doing so, it presents discussions of such important philosophers as Fichte, Hegel, Peirce, Dewey, James, and, above all, Santayana.
John Lachs is Centennial Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University. His latest book is Stoic Pragmatism. Patrick Shade is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Rhodes College.
Introduction by Patrick Shade Prologue: The Personal Value and Social Usefulness of Philosophy Part I: Mind and Reality 1 The Impotent Mind 2 Santayana's Philosophy of Mind 3 Fichte's Idealism 4 Peirce, Santayana, and the Large Facts 5 The Transcendence of Materialism and Idealism in American Thought 6 Primitive Naturalism Part I I: Self and Society 7 Two Views of Happiness in Mill 8 Questions of Life and Death 9 On Selling Organs 10 A Community of Psyches: Santayana on Society 11 The Cost of Community 12 Public Benefit, Private Cost 13 Leaving Others Alone Part I I I: Pluralism and Choice-Inclusive Facts 14 Relativism and Its Benefits 15 The Element of Choice in Criteria of Death 16 Human Natures 17 Persons and Different Kinds of Persons 18 Grand Dreams of Perfect People 19 Philosophical Pluralism Part IV: Meaningful Living 20 To Have and to Be 21 Drugs: The Fallacy of Avoidable Consequences 22 Loving Life 23 Aristotle and Dewey on the Rat Race 24 Improving Life 25 Stoic Pragmatism 26 Pragmatism and Death Part V: Human Advance and Finite Obligation 27 The Relevance of Philosophy to Life 28 Both Better Off and Better: Moral Progress Amid Continuing Carnage 29 Education in the Twenty-First Century (with Shirley M. Lachs) 30 Learning About Possibility 31 Moral Holidays 32 Good Enough Epilogue: Physician Assisted Suicide Notes Further Reading Index 153-