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Coming to Terms with Being Human
In a masterful survey of the history of the idea of human perfection, prize-winning author and noted rhetorician Michael J. Hyde leads a fascinating excursion through philosophy, religion, science, and art. Eloquently and engagingly he delves into the canon of Western thought, drawing on figures from St. Augustine and John Rawls to Leonardo da Vinci and David Hume to Kenneth Burke and Mary Shelley. On the journey, Hyde expounds on the workings of daily existence, the development of reason, and the bounds of beauty. In the end, he ponders the consequences of the perfection-driven impulse of medical science and considers the implications of the bourgeoning rhetoric of “our posthuman future.” It is a triumphant examination of the human quest for significance.
To read a Q & A with Michael Hyde: http://www2.journalnow.com/content/2010/feb/24/232100/perfect-author-writes-what-it-means/living/
Chapter 1: Coming to Terms with Perfection
Chapter 2: God on a Good Day
Chapter 3: Interpreting the Call
Chapter 4: The Otherness All Around Us
Chapter 5: Reason
Chapter 6: Beauty
Chapter 7: The Lived Body
Chapter 8: The Good Life, the Good Death
Chapter 9: The Biotechnology Debate
Chapter 10: On Being an Oxymoron
“This is yet another testament of Hyde’s meticulous and wide-ranging scholarship, his attentiveness to details, his keen sense of argument, and his skill in carrying on conversations across disciplinary demarcations.”
—Calvin O. Schrag, George Ade Distinguished Professor of Philosophy Emeritus, Purdue University
“I enthusiastically recommend what is sure to be another award-winning book by Michael Hyde.”
—Barry Brummett, Charles Sapp Centennial Professor in Communication, University of Texas-Austin
“An expansive and daring book about the complexity of the human project, its possibilities, its limitations, and its inscrutable ambiguity. This is the sort of challenge we do not often find in a society mostly devoid of critical reflection. Here, though, is critical reflection done in a generous spirit, compelling the reader into fresh zones of awareness.”
—Walter Brueggemann, Professor Emeritus, Columbia Theological Seminary
Hyde (communication ethics, Wake Forest Univ.) argues that humans "embody a metaphysical desire for perfection," and he aims to show this by reviewing the pertinent thinking of a very large number of writers, from ancient history to the present, in philosophy, religion, science, and the arts—in a sense, the entire "Western canon." His review of the pertinent thinking of the included writers is interesting, engaging, and informative in a way that draws the reader in. To flesh out his inquiry, Hyde goes into detail in two "case studies" that illustrate the metaphysical desire for perfection: "The Rhetorical Situation of Terri Schiavo" and the recent motion picture As Good as It Gets. VERDICT This book should be of interest to a large readership from scholars to lay readers; highly recommended for philosophy and cultural studies collections in most libraries."
—Library Journal, 1/15/2010
Michael J. Hyde is University Distinguished Professor of Communication Ethics in the Department of Communication and is on the faculty of the Program for Bioethics, Health and Society in the School of Medicine, Wake Forest University. He is the author of The Life-Giving Gift of Acknowledgment and the award-winning The Call of Conscience. In addition, he is the editor of The Ethos of Rhetoric and Communication Philosophy and the Technological Age; with Walter Jost he co-edited Rhetoric and Hermeneutics in Our Time. He and his wife live in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.