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The Other Side of Virtue, by Brendan Myers

Reviewed by Sable Aradia

Brendan Myers is a Canadian Pagan author who has done two very difficult things. One is that he has broken out of the Canadian market; the other is that he has broken out of the Pagan market. He’s a professor of philosophy in Gatineau, Quebec and this, plus his background in Druidry and Humanistic Paganism have come together in his 2008 book The Other Side of Virtue: Where Our Virtues Come from, What They Really Mean, and Where They Might Be Taking Us. I’ve had a signed copy of this book sitting on my “to read” shelf since I saw Brendan at the Western Gate Festival a couple of years ago, but only now finally got around to finding time to read it. I’m sorry I waited.

This book could be a modern manifesto for humanistic Paganism; but its theories can also be applied to most modern Pagan practice. And it could also be read and enjoyed by humanists and naturalists of any faith. It could possibly even be held up to Neil deGrasse Tyson and Stephen Hawking as an answer on the value of philosophy. Philosophy is not dead, Myers argues. It has merely changed form. A hard-core rationalist might ask “What use does philosophy have in the modern scientific and rational world?” The answer is “to teach us how to live a good life without faith to fall back on.” But that being said, it does not challenge the existence of faith; rather, it suggests that ethics and values are essential and positive driving forces that cross the boundaries of religion or spirituality, and are equally applicable to everyone.

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