Yesterday I finished reading The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith. I first read 44 Scotland Street a couple of years ago, and having lived in Edinburgh I love reading stories set within its fascinating streets. Somehow, I forgot about these books, but am back to them now. I will be reading Friends, Lovers, Chocolate next in this series, as well as Espresso Tales, more from 44 Scotland Street. I have not read The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series yet, which is also by Alexander McCall Smith and highly acclaimed. The setting for that series is Botswana, and I'm afraid its really Edinburgh that draws me more.
In The Sunday Philosophy Club, which never meets, by the way, we are introduced to Isabel Dalhousie, philosopher, editor of an ethics magazine and aspiring private detective. Its the philosophical observations running through the book that I really enjoyed, as well as the mystery to be solved. In one section Isabel (who naturally, has perfect manners, but can be nosey!) rails on manners and the decline of this generation to have any, which I would say is true (oh but it makes me sound old), and a topic I came across on Blogher (i think it was) this week as well. From The Sunday Philosophy Club:
Good manners depended on paying moral attention to others; it required one to treat them with complete moral seriousness, to understand their feelings and their needs.
... How utterly shortsighted we had been to listen to those who thought that manners were a bourgeois affectation, an irrelevance, which need no longer be valued. A moral disaster had ensued, because manners were the basic building block of a civil society. They were the method of transmitting the messege of moral consideration.
In this way an entire generation had lost a vital piece of the moral jigsaw and now we saw the results: a society in which nobody would help, nobody would feel for others; a society in which aggressive language and insensitivity were the norm.
(Ugh I can't seem to get the block quote to go off!!)Whew what a mouthful, but I love philosophy and especially enjoy it in this form, truths within a base of an absorbing fiction story. Enjoyable and thought provoking without too much banging of the head. There was a local news story recently of a woman who died in a doorway due to a brain annuerism as she was carrying home some wood shelving from the DIY store. Two young men, in thier 20's came along and urinated on her (and filmed themselves of course). She died shortly after.
They claim to have been drunk and high, but at that moment they came along, she had actually been in the midst of dying. How completely awful and without conscience is that. I don't know anyone who ever did that when they were drunk. Does being drunk mean you completely lose your moral compass? Or is it just a convenient excuse for no moral compass? And with this new 'happy slapping' phenomena (I've just seen yet another depressing news story about it today -here in the UK), where one doesn't think of helping first, but filming or creating crime instead, it does seem that a portion at least, of our society is slipping into some clockwork orange netherworld. Oh, I'm getting irritable again so I'll quit!!