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The Source: Where Are Ideals In Today's Society?

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Today's world is full of technology, innovation, skepticism, and materialism. Is there still room for ideals? 

Mark Edmundson, an English professor at the University of Virginia, asks this question in his book, Self and Soul: A Defense of Ideals. In the book, he discusses the three most important ideals of courage, contemplation, and compassion. Edmundson uses historical figures to embody these traits, mentioning Plato as a great thinker and Jesus and Buddha as figures of compassion. 

He also explores how we may have moved away from ideals. Another historical example is Freud, who considered the Darwinian tendencies of human nature to be more important than the ideal of loving your neighbor. Edmundson says this shift can also be seen in literature, as Shakespeare's plays are not focused on philosophical or religious themes. But he's not saying that today's society is free of ideals. Instead, conversations are just about money and success. 

Do you agree with Edmundson? 


  • Mark Edmundson, English professor at the University of Virginia and author of Self and Soul: A Defense of Ideals