The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen by Kwame Anthony Appiah
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I read this book on the strong recommendation of someone who is working very hard to create a moral revolution and a new code of honor; the message was compelling enough to seek out this book and see for myself the philosophical underpinnings of this movement.
Appiah writes of three historical examples where something was done a certain way, questioned, and eventually overturned as immoral. The custom of dueling collapsed under public scrutiny, Chinese female footbinding became looked on as grotesque when Chinese society opened to some Western influence, and Atlantic slavery underwent moral collapse when industrialized workers could not continue to ignore their enslaved counterparts in the southern US. Appiah then turns to honor killings in Pakistan, which continue today, but under much more scrutiny as social media and the modern world help shape public opinion.
Through his historical examination, it is clear that the tide of moral change happens very slowly, with a few brave but influential outliers speaking out and leading their respective societies to change their outlook and shape new behaviors over time. It is very interesting to look at certain events through his lens of honor and see how they hold up; politicians certainly do not turn out well.
If you are interested in honor and morality throughout history, or ever wondered why certain reprehensible customs were once widespread but now reviled and embarrassing, Appiah will help you understand exactly what happened, and what is still happening in our modern world as we work to fight injustice-- as well as what work still must happen to change hearts and minds. This is a very important book for anyone wishing to make more than superficial change in the world.
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