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Posted on Nov 10, 2012 |

Review: Ten Universal Principles

Review: Ten Universal Principles

The only thing wrong with this book is that it is directed toward, and only toward, exactly what it says in the subhead: the “life issues.”


Fr. Robert Spitzer, SJ, explains ten simple and universal principles that can and should be applied to any subject, and applies them to the life issues.


If, like me, you would like to see them applied to pretty much everything, you will have to do it yourself. And while doing so is a good thing, I would love for this excellent little book to be an excellent big book.


Fr. Spitzer breaks the principles into three groups of three: Principles of Reason, Principles of Ethics, and Principles of Justice and Natural Rights. To these he adds a “Fundamental Principle of Identity and Culture” –what he calls the “Principle of Beneficence,” or the Golden Rule.


The principles have complex names, but the explanations are lucid and easy to understand and apply. The book requires some sustained and connected thinking, but that’s a good thing. Learning these ten principles will help anyone think and talk more clearly about the life issues, and anything else.


The principles are meant to be used when there is no common religious ground, because they are based on reason and can be understood by any thinking person.


And it is, as the name promises, a great way to think and talk about the life issues with people who are not religious believers, or who are not paying attention to the religious teachings they are supposed to accept.


Although the book has been out for a year, it should prove invaluable in the coming months, as the recent election has highlighted how divided we are as a nation on these issues — and how difficult they are to talk about.


Ten Universal Principles: A Brief Philosophy of the Life Issues. Fr. Robert J. Spitzer, SJ, PhD, Ignatius Press.