Books for the News, Economics, History, Philosophy

An unabashed fan of the bourgeoisie

jacket imageDeirdre McCloskey is no stranger to controversy and her latest work, The Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce promises to make her the focus of debate once again. An ingenious reply to more than a century’s worth of critics whose scorn for the bourgeois lifestyle has become ubiquitous in modern culture, McCloskey’s book is nothing less than a wholesale reinterpretation of Western intellectual history; a dead-serious reply to the critics of capitalism that has got the reviewers talking. In an article in the February 4 Chicago Sun Times critic Hedy Weiss remarks:
“To put it in a nutshell: McCloskey is an unabashed fan of the bourgeoisie and the system of capitalism that has led to the creation of the much-maligned class she defines in the broadest terms.”
Quoting McCloskey, the article continues:

“The bourgeois life… generates and sustains what I consider to be seven important virtues, including common sense and know-how, courage, temperance or self-command, a sense of justice and fairness to others, and the notion of transformative love. It also can be the source of hope, which I would define as being able to imagine a future goal, and faith, which I see as the source of our identity and our ability to think back to the past.”

Countering centuries of assumptions and unexamined thinking, Deirdre McCloskey’s The Bourgeois Virtues offers a fascinating reinterpretation of the significance of capitalism in Western society. Read an excerpt. We also have an excerpt from McCloskey’s memoir, Crossing.