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In Praise of Prejudice: The Necessity of Preconceived Ideas [Hardcover]

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Item Number 393495  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   129
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 5.5" Height: 8.75"
Weight:   0.7 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Sep 25, 2007
Publisher   Encounter Books
ISBN  1594032025  
EAN  9781594032028  

Availability  16 units.
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Item Description...
Prejudice," wrote Edmund Burke,"renders a man's virtue his habit." How strange this sounds to modernears! In recent times, to call someone prejudiced is to relegate him to the lowest rung of intellectual life. But is there anyone who isn't prejudiced? As Dr. Theodore Dalrymple argues in this brief and bracing rehabilitation of both prejudice itself and the necessity of prejudice, someone who walks out into the world completely unprejudiced is as helpless as a newborn babe. Dr. Dalrymple insists that the pretense that we can be totally unprejudiced is a pretext for licentiousness and lack of self-control, to the detriment not only of the individuals themselves but of society as a whole.

Publishers Description
Today, the word prejudice has come to seem synonymous with bigotry; therefore the only way a person can establish freedom from bigotry is by claiming to have wiped his mind free from prejudice. English psychiatrist and writer Theodore Dalrymple shows that freeing the mind from prejudice is not only impossible, but entails intellectual, moral and emotional dishonesty. The attempt to eradicate prejudice has several dire consequences for the individual and society as a whole.

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More About Theodore Dalrymple

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Theodore Dalrymple is a retired physician and psychiatrist. He is a contributing editor of "City Journal" and frequent contributor to the London "Spectator," "The New Criterion," and other leading magazines and newspapers. He is most recently author of "Not With a Bang But a Whimper: The Politics and Culture of Decline, Romancing Opiates: Pharmacological Lies and the Addiction Bureaucracy, In Praise of Prejudice: The Necessity of Preconceived Ideas," and "Threats of Pain and Ruin."

Theodore Dalrymple was born in 1949.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Short book with a tall thesis  Jun 23, 2008
Dalrymple's In Praise of Prejudice, subtitled The Necessity of Preconceived Ideas, tackles a seemingly settled subject, prejudice. Who could possibly be in favor of prejudice? He starts by acknowledging that the word prejudice has assumed horrible connotations: "To hate, despise, depreciate, or discriminate against someone merely because he belongs to a certain racial group." Nevertheless, he reminds readers that prejudice--in the sense of predispositions or preconceptions--is absolutely necessary to human thought and to social progress. One generation builds on the progress of previous generations by taking for granted the discoveries of the past. Neither of these two propositions seems particularly startling, so it is fair to ask, "Why should I read this book?"

Is the author's point merely to show some useful sides of prejudice? No! He has a far more ambitious goal; he demonstrates that Western society's fear of--and reaction against--prejudice has encouraged moral, ethical, and social breakdown by undermining our judgments, weakening our institutions, and making us susceptible to totalitarian fixes. He tackles this thesis from many angles. Chapter five, for example, is about childrearing and education. By trying to ensure that we leave children free from our prejudices, we lose site of the dividing lines between infancy and childhood, childhood and adolescence, and adolescence and adulthood. Parents routinely ask their children's advice about things children know nothing relevant about. He mentions the grocery store, where parents quiz their kids about what they want to eat. We have all seen the result: "in the absence of experience, children will always choose the same thing, the thing that is most immediately attractive or gratifying to them." Then, society calls for government action to curb the childhood obesity crisis.

Parents' willingness to indulge their children has become something of a pet peeve with me. I see parents becoming short-order cooks at nearly every mealtime, their children getting veto power over whatever has been prepared, with unlimited special menus available to them. Such overindulgent mothers would respond to a husband's demand for unique, personal, impromptu meals with anger or even violence, but when little Johnny demands, the mother starts asking exactly how he'd like his order prepared. Dalrymple argues that this desire to keep our children free from our influence results in "arrested development." He observes that overindulgent parents accomplish something unintended: "A young child, constantly consulted over his likes and dislikes, learns that life is, and ought to be, ruled by his likes and dislikes. He is not free of prejudices just because he is free of his parents' prejudices. On the contrary, he is a slave to his own prejudices. Unfortunately, they are harmful both to him as an individual, and to the society of which he is a member."

While I thought that this book might have more cognitive science inside, perhaps more like one of Steven Pinker's, the lack of scientific rigor (footnotes and source citations are absent) is a reasonable sacrifice for such a readable book. I received the book on Friday and read it three times over the weekend. If you are looking for an enjoyable and thought-provoking book, you should order this little 126-page gem.
IN PRAISE OF PREJUDICE is a collection of essays about the utility of tradition and precedent and authority. Prejudice makes life easier because youre not forced or obsessed with re-inventing the wheel every day. Things that are consistent become axiomatic, accepted without proof. That is we dont usually cringe when old women with blue hair board the subway with us.

The book gets off to a slow and labored start. It really needs one more draft to fix the sluggishness. This isnt Dalrymple's best prose. But it improves enough and his thoughts become clear, coherent, and provocative where it matters.
The Typical Dalrymple Essay  May 18, 2008
For those familiar with Dr. Dalrymple's perspective, this essay crystallises his recurrent themes into a handy 'reader'. For those readers new to Dr. Dalrymple, this book presents a quick entry to his view of the social ills created by a relaxation of virtue and education.

Whilst not one of his most erudite publications ('Our Culture' and 'Life at Bottom' present wider coverage), this essay defines what is pernicious about the current pervasive view in modern culture that being without prejudice, or being non-judgemental, is a virtue.

Dr. Dalrymple's position is argued by using example of social decay caused by this failure (of being without prejudice), focusing singularly on the necessity of prejudice to advance mankind's thought and actions.

A quick read, and not a bad read. A quick entry point or a summary of previous work.
In praise of this book  Mar 23, 2008
It is a rare book which requires reading without breaks. This was such a book. It helps that I am in agreement with the major points of the book! Prejudice many not be the best word to describe the expectations and common concepts and attitudes, but he major point is clear: we simply must have common ideas, customs and opinions in order to survive. It is impossible to picture a world where everybody is individual in the full meaning of the word. The present western culture is schizophrenic in a sense that we want to be individuals but at the same time long for community spirit and want to share our opinions. It is pathetic how much energy is used to be different than the others. Of course, it would be great if we could have an optimum level of "prejudice", but this seems to be impossible. This is one of the best books I have read lately.
The Most Interesting Man in the World.  Mar 3, 2008
Well, Dr. Dalrymple is to me at any rate. I would place him solidly on my list of top five writers without any question. Indeed, I probably will read anything he ever writes on any subject. Yes, I agree with the other reviewers that this book is too short, but, being that it is part of a series called "Brief Encounters," this is to be expected.

Here our eminent retired psychiatrist demolishes a major cornerstone of political correctness. Specifically, it is the mandate that we be non-judgmental in regards to everyone and everybody--with the exception of those who are judgmental or prejudicial, of course. In their case, no fate is too severe. Dr. Dalrymple argues convincingly that a life without preconception is an impossibility; just as is truth without presupposition. To display prejudice once meant an individual had discernment, but now it means one has a variety of PC ism.

The influence of the sensitivity-at-all-costs gang has altered the world irreparably and for the worse. Dr. Dalrymple showcases this eventuality within a myriad of contexts. One of which is unconventionality which once equated with individuals being... unconventional. Yet now, the label has morphed into a compliment. This has led the avant-garde to undergo "the equivalent of an arms race," becoming more and more outlandish in order to satisfy the needs of their social clique. They always forget the truism that the only thing which never changes is the avant-garde.

No longer are politeness and civility integral to functional social relations. Making a spectacle of oneself in public can be lamentable but is deemed a sign of honesty and sincerity. No matter how out-of-control the person who "loses it" becomes his tantrum elucidates how true he is to his feelings. Asking him to show restraint would rob him of authenticity.

Numerous ornate phrases bejewel In Praise of Prejudice and my own favorite is "The Law of Conservation of Righteous Indignation." Dr. Dalrymple posits that a free-floating, constant mass of indignation among populations may be as intrinsic to humanity as our lust for fat and salt. We find that as old prejudices dissipate, new ones form to become repositories of animus. Tobacco is a perfect example. Once it was regarded merely as a vice but now outrage over its usage unites our elites. Our leaders then spray their sanctimonious acrimony upon the demon weed and whoever is foolish enough to pay the exorbitant taxes that allow them to smoke it. Yes, this is a brief encounter with Dr. Dalrymple, but, as always, it is one that leaves readers vastly enriched.

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