Kindness Wars: The History and Political Economy of Human Caring

Noel A. Cazenave, Author

Kindness Wars rescues our understanding of kindness from the clutches of an intellectually and morally myopic popular psychology and returns it to the stage of big ideas, in keeping with the important Enlightenment-era debates about human nature and possibilities. Cazenave conceptualizes kindness as not just a benevolent feeling, a caring thought or a generous action, but as a worldview, theory, or ideology that explains who we are and justifies how we treat others. Here “kindness wars” refers to the millennia-old “kindness theory” and ideological conflicts over what kind of societies humans can and should have. The book’s title denotes the two types of kindness wars it analyzes, conflict over: (1) whether to be kind or not (i.e., the conflicts between kindness and other societal values and ideologies), and (2) what it means to be kind (i.e., the wars within kindness over different ideas as to what it means to be kind and to whom). Using a conflict theoretical perspective, Kindness Wars examines the history of the kindness concept; its many struggles with opposing notions of our true nature and possibilities; and what the lessons of that history and those battles offer us toward the development of a large, robust, and politically-engaged conceptualization of kindness.

Cover of Kindness Wars by Noel A. Cazenave. It reads "Kindness Wars: The History and Political Economy of Human Caring. New critical Viewpoints on Society."