ReviewsIt would hardly be an exaggeration to call this brilliant and beautiful book one of the most important works of our time. In my view, it should certainly rank as one of the wisest. Looking deeply into today’s social, cultural, and political crises, the author points to the compelling need to re-envision the perennial moral and intellectual virtues as the indispensable key to human flourishing in both the personal and communal dimensions of our lives. His close and careful analysis of these virtues, and their connection with well-being, shows us what we must do to emerge intact from the confusion and conflicts of our age.
Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, Buddhist scholar and translator of Pali Buddhist texts
Segall is a gifted writer with encyclopedic knowledge, keen insights, and flowing prose. The reading public who are concerned about the general state of affairs in America should be very interested in this book. It is full of sensible examples and free from academic jargon while thoughtfully engaging great ancient thinkers from different cultural and intellectual milieus, i.e., Aristotelian, Confucian, and Buddhist, for alternative sources of virtues and values at this moment of our history.
Tao Jiang, Ph.D., author of Origins of Political-Moral Thought in Early China
Through a rich and rigorous synthesis of flourishing-based ethical perspectives, Seth Zuihō Segall offers insights and inspiration from religious and secular traditions both past and present. To address our increasingly global crisis, we urgently need the kind of globally informed ethics that this book provides.
Stephen Batchelor, author of After Buddhism: Reimagining the Dharma in a Secular Age
Talk of “multiculturalism” and of “the virtues” are often seen as incompatible. “Multiculturalism” is a slogan of contemporary liberals, while conservatives bemoan the loss of our traditional “virtues.” Segall’s The House We Live In is an exciting attempt to bring multicultural liberalism into dialogue with classic accounts of virtues like wisdom, courage, and justice. Segall makes an ambitious attempt to show that the freedom offered by multicultural liberalism has to be grounded in a robust account of what it is to live well and to be a good person. This provocative and timely book deserves a wide audience.
Bryan W. Van Norden, James Monroe Taylor Chair in Philosophy, Vassar College
This book is meant for the intelligent layperson and does not demand any special prior knowledge. It discusses many figures that are key to the history of philosophical ethics, from David Hume to Immanuel Kant, yet does not expect readers to have a background in philosophy. He does this to bring readers up to the current age with a solid basis for making sense of his project and the sort of historical challenges that these figures represent. You will certainly feel more informed about the wider world of ethics after reading it.
After a meaty introduction, Segall develops his ethical proposal across three sections: virtue, wisdom, and flourishing. The book stands out from similar offerings over the years for its well-informed overview of ethical challenges and its lucid connection between these three areas within the reality of the current American landscape. It does not shy away from discussing social justice, the culture wars, religious fundamentalism, and material greed.
If you wish to be part of this project of cultivating a return to being together, then Segall’s book can certainly help you on your way while giving you a grounding in the bigger picture of ethical challenges our species has long faced. Your Buddhist practice can only be enhanced by doing so, and who knows, if we all take the first steps, perhaps more folks will wake up out of the hallucinations of our age and join us.
I think the book is well worth the read, at least its middle ethical chapters, and that’s a big reason I am engaging with it at length. For a long time, virtue ethics of any kind was so underrepresented in philosophy that we virtue ethicists all had to stick together against our Kantian and utilitarian foes. I think it’s a sign of major progress that books like Seth’s are now out there.
Love of All Wisdom ~ Philosophy through multiple traditions