The Death of Character: Moral Education in an Age Without Good or Evil

The Death of Character: Moral Education in an Age Without Good or Evil

James Davison Hunter

Language: English

Pages: 336

ISBN: 0465031773

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The Death of Character is a broad historical, sociological, and cultural inquiry into the moral life and moral education of young Americans based upon a huge empirical study of the children themselves. The children's thoughts and concerns-expressed here in their own words-shed a whole new light on what we can expect from moral education. Targeting new theories of education and the prominence of psychology over moral instruction, Hunter analyzes the making of a new cultural narcissism.




















be at the top, never at the bottom. Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today, to the right or to the left, following other gods and serving them. Curses for Disobedience However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come upon you and overtake you; You will be cursed in the city and cursed in the country. Your basket and your kneading trough will be cursed. The fruit of

the universal truths of Christianity. Yet universal Christianity more often than not took shape as the particular doctrines of a nondenominational Evangelical Protestantism—much to the chagrin of the new and expanding Catholic population. In response, Horace Mann sought a more cosmopolitan solution in a “nonsectarian” liberal Christianity, one that had the markings of rationalism, Unitarianism, and transcendentalism. It was not long before he too was accused—and rightly—of a sectarianism of his

prominently, he posed Miller’s question, “How could Hitler happen?” His response was a condensed version of Miller’s own explanation: “Hitler and Black Nazism are a cruel caricature of what can happen in modern Western society if we do not stop promoting and proliferating family rules that kill the souls of human beings.” What rules are these? The rules of “obedience” and “submission” to parental authority. “Soul murder” was not Just Germany’s problem but America’s as well. It occurred, Bradshaw

graduate fellows of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture. I am very grateful for the careful research provided by Jim Nolan, my research assistant in the earliest years of this project, who, among many other essential tasks, helped with a preliminary draft of Chapter 3, and Daniel Johnson, whose statistical work was indispensable to the second Excursus. Joe Davis, Richard Horner, Steve Neumeister, Jenny Geddes, and Charles Mathewes have provided very helpfal discussion and criticism of

opportunity to serve their community or the nation for at least one year.24 This was merely the first of a barrage of studies (many sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation) that came to the same conclusion. Each recommended that high school and college students meet their “social and civic obligations” by undertaking volunteer work in the school or community.25 The communitarian movement continues to press the importance of experience in moral and civic education. For Amitai Etzioni, the premise is

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