The Fate of a Warrior Culture: Nancy Sherman on Jonathan Lear's "Radical Hope" (Harvard: 2006)

Philosophical Studies 144 (1):71 - 80 (2009)
Jonathan Lear in "Radical Hope" tackles the idea of cultural devastation, in the specific case of the Crow Indians. What do we mean by "annihilation" of a culture? The moral point of view that he imagines as he reconstructs the eve and aftermath of this annihilation is not second personal, of obligation, but first personal, in the collective and singular, as told by the Crows, with Lear as "analyst." "Radical Hope" is a study of representative character of a people—of virtue, courage, resilience, and hope in the face of cultural collapse. The leading questions are shaped by ancient Greek ethics, but with a twist: On the brink of cultural death, what counts for us as good living and what is the nature of the virtues or excellences that constitute it? How might a leader, a phronimos, exemplify it? This puts it too narrowly. The questions, also, are Wittgensteinian: How does a nation go on, when the concepts and way of life it has lived by for centuries are no more? What does it mean to go on? What does it mean to stop when the marks of going on are no longer?
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Nancy Sherman (2009). The Fate of a Warrior Culture. Philosophical Studies 144 (1):71 - 80.
Allen Thompson (2010). Radical Hope for Living Well in a Warmer World. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 23 (1):43-55.
Jonathan Lear (2011). A Case for Irony. Harvard University Press.

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