Cover: Providence Lost, from Harvard University PressCover: Providence Lost in HARDCOVER

Providence Lost

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$41.00 • £32.95 • €37.00

ISBN 9780674031531

Publication Date: 11/15/2008


384 pages

5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches


In a wonderfully clear treatment, Lloyd filters changing understandings of freedom, responsibility, and necessity through the lens of providence. Showing just how much hinges on the presence or absence of notions of fate and providence, she is able to engage the question of how moral responsibility—for example, under conditions of uncertainty—has borne a complex relationship to the understanding of freedom of action. She stresses the role of the imagination and the passions in understanding such freedom, but above all she makes it clear in what way the abandonment of the notion of providence in the modern era is a distinctive feature of modernity, most notably in its understanding of the temporality of action. Nevertheless, as she shows, the exclusion of providence also puts us closer to the concerns of classical Greek ethics than to our more immediate sources of moral theory. —Stephen Gaukroger, author of The Emergence of a Scientific Culture

In this elegant, erudite study, Genevieve Lloyd traces the intricate workings of providence in the shifting social imaginaries of the Western world, from the philosophy and literature of ancient Greece through the great philosophies of early modernity to "our time." She gestures toward a certain solace to be drawn from renewed assumption of responsibility in an era preoccupied with evading or managing the forces of chance and necessity, with which earlier philosophers and other thinkers sought reconciliation.—Lorraine Code, York University

What is providence, anyway, in the modern world? And what is man’s place in relation to it? Such are the questions that Genevieve Lloyd takes up in Providence Lost, a provocative and closely argued work of intellectual history and philosophical polemic.—Daniel J. Mahoney, Wall Street Journal

Providence Lost attends closely to the genre of the writings with which it is concerned, and is itself an exemplar of inquiry in practical philosophy...Genevieve Lloyd has written a wonderfully clear account of the deep connections of providence with central aspects of human life in our cultural history. She is also a perceptive guide to ways of drawing on these sources in responding to current concerns about freedom and necessity in conditions of uncertainty.—Paul Crittenden, Australian Book Review

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