Metaphysics of Goodness:

Harmony and Form, Beauty and Art, Obligation and Personhood, Flourishing and Civilization

Reddit icon
e-mail icon
Twitter icon
Facebook icon
Google icon
LinkedIn icon
Robert Cummings Neville
  • Albany, NY: 
    State University of New York Press
    , October
     400 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


Develops a theory of culture based on a metaphysics that elaborates on the Platonic and Confucian traditions.

In Metaphysics of Goodness, Robert Cummings Neville extends Alfred North Whitehead’s project of cultural studies, which was based on a new metaphysics that Whitehead developed in Adventures of Ideas. Neville’s focus is value or goodness in many modes. The metaphysics treated in this book derive from the Platonic and Confucian traditions, with significant modifications of Whitehead, Peirce, Dewey, Confucius, Xunzi, and Zhou Dunyi. Part one develops a theory of form based on a metaphysics of harmony. Part two elaborates a theory of art based on a metaphysics of beauty. Part three sketches a theory of personhood based on a metaphysics of obligation. Part four discusses civilization in a systematic way based on a metaphysics of flourishing. Throughout the book, Neville elaborates a theory of interpretation that is inspired by Peirce, Dewey, and Xunzi but is not limited to their ideas. While the reasoning of the book is concise, it employs methodologies from many kinds of philosophy, art criticism, ethics, and cultural studies, and sees philosophy as needing to learn from all these disciplines.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Robert Cummings Neville is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Religion, and Theology and Dean Emeritus of the School of Theology at Boston University. He is the author of many books, including Defining Religion: Essays in Philosophy of Religion and The Good Is One, Its Manifestations Many: Confucian Essays on Metaphysics, Morals, Rituals, Institutions, and Genders, both also published by SUNY Press.


Reading Religion welcomes comments from AAR members, and you may leave a comment below by logging in with your AAR Member ID and password. Please read our policy on commenting.