One way of tracking the movement of a civilization is to follow the evolution of thought and sentiment in the moral life. The moral life is not, of course, any particular moral system, but the daily flow of thoughts and desires we experience as we respond to a sense that there is some right thing we ought to be doing. People have very different ideas, of course, about what the right thing is, and that is my theme. The situation is further complicated by the fact that very few styles of morality ever disappear entirely, so that Britain (for example) is morally a vast patchwork of responses to the world, responses that are constantly changing. Such changes can to some extent be tracked in public discussion and actual conduct over the generations. And my argument here is that by the end of the twentieth century, a striking new style of moral response to the world had come into being.

Let me indicate the kind of change I mean by sketching...

 
A new initiative for discerning readers—and our close friends. Join The New Criterion’s Supporters Circle.
Popular Right Now