Seth Zuiho SegallFeb 8, 2024
The House We Live in
Virtue, Wisdom, and Pluralism
Equinox Publishing (UK) 2023
The values of liberalism, pluralism, and democratic governance are under sustained attack from right-wing Christian fundamentalists, white ethnonationalists, and economic populists. At the same time, liberal democracies are failing at cultivating and transmitting the values, wisdom, and virtues that are the prerequisites for individual and collective flourishing. They seem increasingly unable to negotiate diverse visions of the good life rooted in regional, ethnic, racial, religious, generational, and socioeconomic differences.
Addressing these problems effectively requires a deeper understanding of human flourishing and the wisdom and virtues that make it possible. Seth Zuiho Segall's book The House We Live in: Virtue, Wisdom, and Pluralism (Equinox, 2023) takes up this challenge, exploring the commonalities underlying three classical approaches to virtue ethics—Aristotelean, Buddhist, and Confucian—to develop a flourishing-based ethics. The book examines the moral and intellectual virtues that promote flourishing, the diversity of ways in which we may flourish, and the factors all flourishing lives share. It shows how a flourishing-based ethics can serve as a corrective to the historical Western over-emphasis on individualism at the expense of community. Finally, it addresses key issues in domestic and foreign policy and the difficulties in talking to each other across the political divide. The book is a reaffirmation of pluralism, the liberal democratic tradition, and the necessity of a pragmatic approach to living together despite seemingly incommensurable differences.
Jack Petranker is Senior Teacher at the Center for Creative Inquiry, where he leads retreats and workshops, and the Director of the Mangalam Buddhist Research Center. He holds degrees in law and political theory, and has served as Dean of the Tibetan Nyingma Institute.