One reason I gave myself a limited time for this quest is that the topic of goodness is ridiculously large. If I did nothing more than read the literature of morality, goodness, good vs. evil and/or ethics in philosophy, religion, theology, psychology, or even in business, medicine, journalism, law or any other pursuit, well, the top of my head would blow off.
I can’t read everything, but I do want to read as much as I can. So, I need your help. What should I read? I’m looking for the names of books, popular articles, essays and scientific publications. As I start this quest, my reading list is woefully tiny. I’m only beginning to dig up possible texts, and I seem to have dead-ended on texts about the error-prone nature of human beings, which may say more about me than about my quest.
Right now, I’m reading Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions and Hurtful Acts by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson.
Other materials on my reading list are:
Exploring Happiness: From Aristotle to Brain Science, forthcoming in the fall, by Sissela Bok (I’m particularly interested in her discussion of how what makes us happy, or at least, some people happy, isn’t necessarily good. For example, slave holders were happy.)
The Politics of Happiness: What Government Can Learn from the New Research on Well-Being by Derek Bok (might or might not be useful, but looks interesting)
Drive by Daniel Pink. (My quest is to not only find goodness, but to learn how we can become good. This book on motivation was suggested by a friend and looks like it could be helpful.)
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (The same friend that suggested Drive, also said I should read Flow. It seems far off topic, but perhaps not. I suspect that any kind of psychological insight can help me understand goodness.)
How We Know What Isn’t So by Thomas Gilovich
The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley.
Society Without God: What the Least Religious Nations Tell us about Contentment by Phil Zuckerman
“Objectivity in the Eye of the Beholder: Divergent Perceptions of Bias in Self Versus Other” by Princeton psychologist Emily Pronin and colleagues.
That’s all I’ve got on my list right now. As I said before, this is completely inadequate, so give me some help. I obviously need texts that directly discuss ethics, morality, goodness, theology, philosophy, even good vs. evil. Suggestions about either nonfiction or fiction are welcome. I’ll be happy to look at sacred texts. What do you think I should read?