Humanity, Terrorism, Terrorist War: Palestine, 9/11,
Iraq, 7/7... (Continuum, UK)
Right and Wrong and Palestine, 9/11, Iraq, 7/7... (Seven Stories Press, US)
CONTINUUM (UK) REVIEW QUOTATIONS, ENDORSEMENTS
radical analytic philosopher Ted Honderich was promoting his last book, After the Terror, in Germany in 2003,
riot police had to separate competing sets of demonstrators outside his
meetings.It was a quieter evening at the London
Review Bookshop this week. The only disruption to his talk came from a fidgety
television crew making a documentary about him, but Honderich's new book, Humanity, Terrorism, Terrorist War
(Continuum) contains some equally intellectually incendiary material."
"The Case: an
English intellectual mocks the anti-terrorism laws with an essay legitimating
palestinian terrorist violence: The highly esteemed British thinker is not
anti-Semitic, but he denounces the 'aggression' of Zionism. He issues the challenge that against this
action by Israel, the Palestinians have the right to resort to the use of
force, even against Israeli citizens. Ted Honderich's endorsing in London of
Arab self-defence also challenges Blair
in the matter of civil rights. Two years ago the same professor
scandalised Germany with a book on 9/11. The book was withdrawn from sale, but
Habermas defended it. He is a
celebrated philosopher, with the aplomb of a British country gentleman, and
bearing a vague likeness to Bertrand Russell, with whom, in a rare
manifestation of protest many years ago, he took part in a sit-down in
Parliament Square in London..."
Andrea Lavazza, Avvenire, 22 Dec 05
"This book, by a
distinguished philosopher...inescapably concludes that modern war and terrorism
both use violence against innocent people for political purposes and those who
practice either cannot claim a moral superiority for their view. ...he can find
no moral justification for the invasion of Iraq and links the bombings in
London 7/7 directly to that act of aggression. ...This is a very remarkable
Rt. Hon. Tony Benn, M.P.
British philosopher, Ted Honderich is...a controversial figure. His radical
views on the Palestinian question, the fact that he finds Palestinian terror to
be morally admissible, have made him numerous enemies ... but that hasn’t
stopped him writing books. ... Prompted by his visit to Brussels a short while
ago at the invitation of the Research Group in Political Philosophy at the
Catholic University of Brussels, a discussion: 'Some forms of terrorism are morally
acceptable, you say. How do you arrive at that conclusion?'"
Lode Delputte, deMorgen, Brussels
"The very best philosophy challenges our preconceptions
about the world and helps us to think around and beyond established
orthodoxies. In this provocative and courageous book, Britain's most important
philosopher demolishes the widespread assumption amongst the educated classes
that the West is only ever the victim of terrorism and never its perpetrator.
By arguing that under certain conditions the morality of terrorism is
consistent with the Principle of Humanity, Ted Honderich forces us to
reconsider justifications for Palestinian terror and the complicity of our
leaders in the immiseration of the Middle East. No serious engagement with the
vital issues of our age is possible without reference to this disturbing but
Dr. Scott Burchill, Deakin University, Australia
"Ted Honderich makes a powerful case that "an easy
answer is wrong", so that to find the right answer...will be anything but
easy. His inquiry explores some of the most painful and controvesial issues of
the day. It merits, and will reward, careful reflection."
Prof. Noam Chomsky
"This book brings together, as they need to be brought
together, great injustices. It makes what is happening in the world clearer. It
is an exemplary use of philosophical method."
Prof. Charles Crittenden, California State University
"This book is reasoning with passion. It follows in the
tradition of Rousseau's The Social
Contract, Edmund Burke's Reflections
on the Revolution in France, Thomas Paine's The Rights of Man, and Bertrand Russell's War Crimes in Vietnam. It at least gets in sight of these
inspirations. It may join them. Time will tell. It is on the side of the first,
third and fourth of them. It is real philosophy you can understand. Its
convictions are never ever given up. It is by a philosophical Chomsky. It knows
who the real enemies and the real friends of the terrorism of 9/11 and 7/7
Tam Dalyell, M.P., Father of the House of Commons
"'The characteristic of our own government at present is imbecility', Dr. Johnson said in 1776. The characteristic of American and British government now is moral imbecility, Prof. Honderich says. But the book is not declamation. It is a line of argument in conversation, argument starting from humanity. It is not incitement to terrorism, but reason actually to think about terrorism."
Lord Ian Gilmour
"A great and unsettling book. In a devastating dialogue with himself
and his readers, Ted Honderich strips naked the illogicality and imperviousness
to fact that pervade public attitudes and official responses to the horrors of
terrorism. Readers who remain unmoved after exposing their beliefs to
Honderich’s interpretation of recent events will be grateful for this
opportunity to unlock their assumptions and think them through. Those who, with
whatever agonizing on the way, follow the author to the end will, having seen
the light, be better placed to spread it."
Prof. Alastair Hannay, University of Oslo, University of California
"There are few professors for whose lectures the riot
police have to be called in. It happened to the Brit, Ted Honderich after the
publication of After the Terror in
September 2002. The book not only held the West jointly responsible for the
attacks of 9/11, it also defended the Palestinian people’s moral right to
terrorism. “Anti-Semitism,” cried the director of a German institute for the
Holocaust, and all of a sudden the philosopher, Honderich, to his great
bewilderment, found himself in the middle of a media storm. There were no riot
police to be seen at the lecture...at the Catholic University of
Gilbert Roox, De Standaard, Brussels
"This is an important and courageous inquiry by an internationally
known philosopher. It illuminates the moral issues surrounding terrorism's
causes and consequences, and makes a valuable contribution to the moral
assessment of current leaders."
Prof. Virginia Held, City University of New York
"Honderich is one of the most renowned living
philosophers in the Anglo-American analytic tradition. His Principle of
Humanity is a significant and original contribution to ethics and political
philosophy. His latest book is a systematic attempt to apply this principle to
several questions that are as hard as they are urgent. As such, it is
invaluable – even if a reader were not to accept his conclusions, as I do not
accept his views about Palestinian terrorism. This is a highly readable,
thought-provoking book about issues that concern us all, written by a
distinguished thinker who does not toe any party line."
Dr. Brian Klug, St. Benet's Hall, Oxford
"THE REAL FRIENDS OF TERROR: a programme on FIVE by Ted Honderich in the Don't Get Me Started The idea of this series of 40-minute documentary programmes is that each one gives a well-known figure a platform to put the controversial side of a major argument or conflict. So the programmes are by people who do get started riding their hobby horse, and carry on. Some of them must be right. The programme Tues 19 Sept at 7.15 pm, 'The Real Friends of Terror', is presented by the internationally known philosopher of morals and politics as well as the Philosophy of Mind, Ted Honderich. The programme follows on from his new book Humanity, Terrorism, Terrorist War: Palestine, 9/11, Iraq, 7/7..." series
Channel Five press release
"In the final film in the splendid series Don't Get Me
Started' (Five, 7.15 pm) Ted Honderich offers his view of who are 'The Real
Friends of Terror', and there are no prizes for guessing who he thinks they
are. ... but impressively he grants air-time to those who disagree with his
concljusions, and it is worth tuning in if only to be familiarized with his
Principle of Humanity."
"It is a brilliant, heartfelt, and well argued book that needed to be written, and that could only have been written by Ted Honderich."
Prof. Timothy Sprigge
"Ted Honderich is a British philosophy
professor...regarded as one of the most significant heretic thinkers of our
time. Some people compare him to his friend and ally Noam Chomsky. At the
conference in Crete he disturbed the peace by his defence of Palestinian
terrorism. The Greek audience was enthusiastic, Prof. Agnes Heller, a
participant from America, attacked him, and he defended himself."
Ilias Maglinis, Kathimerini (free translation)
"Professor Honderich's new book, written with his usual lucidity and straightforward approach to major philosophical issues such as the basis for an acceptable ethics and the questionableness of a merely formal commitment to 'democracy' regardless of outcome, deals with the most troubling global issues of our time -- 'terrorism', state terrorism, and the 'bad lives' lived by so much of the world's population -- with a degree of courage and intense intellectual honesty that, to our shame, is rare among philosophers and other public intellectuals."
Prof. William McBride, Purdue University
"We have committed political journalists who unearth uncomfortable facts. We have elegant political writers who explain how political realities fall short of our moral principles. We have many public intellectuals who argue or simply assume that our principles, miraculously, are pretty much what they ought to be. But Professor Honderich, though one of our most eminent public philosophers, is not out to reassure us. He is not in the business of establishing that, at least on the level of principles, we're doing just fine. ... Rarer still, Honderich has the moral courage to apply his principles to contemporary realities, even when he knows the results will not please many of his readers, on the left as well as on the right. Of all the able commentators who discuss contemporary events, none challenges us so forcefully and so fruitfully."
Prof. Michael Neumann, Trent University
"A good deal of current discussion of terrorism is shallow and partisan. Ted Honderich’s new book cuts through much of the fog ands offers a view that deserves to be heard and debated. One need not agree with all of it to appreciate the intellectual vigour and moral passion that inform it."
Prof. Lord Bhikhu Parekh
"You do not have to agree with this book to be grateful for its courage. It is cool factual and moral analysis of inconsistencies that will strike those sympathetic to causes of terrorism as showing our condemnation is based on our interests and superior power."
Prof. Thomas Pogge, Columbia University
"If anyone could persuade me that there is a real -- and not just a conceptual -- difference between anti-neo-Zionism and anti-Zionism (or, for that matter, between anti-Zionism and and anti-semitism), it would be Ted Honderich. He is a most resourceful and pertinacious arguer."
Lord Anthony Quinton
"In this book the well-known English philosopher links together four recent, troubling events in a single, very perceptive analysis. The book is full of insights. It is certain to spark further debate."
Prof. Tom Rockmore, Duquesne University
"Where does responsibility for much of what goes by the name of 'terrorism' lie? Is it only with the terrorists, or does the circle of responsibility extend farther -- perhaps, sometimes, even to the victims of terrorism themselves? Organized around the principle that our most fundamental moral obligation is to get and keep people out of lives devoid of even the most basic human goods, Palestine, 9/11, Iraq, 7/7... takes an unflinching look at recent political events.... The account of the circumstances of the U.S./U.K. decision to go to war in Iraq is perhaps the clearest, most compelling account I have read. The analysis of the moral responsibility for 9/11 and 7/7 seems to me to be both devastating and rationally unanswerable."
Prof. Timothy Shanahan, Loyola Marymount University
"A thoughtful and impassioned consideration of central geo-political issues of our time. This book can change minds and hearts."
Prof. James P.Sterba, University of Notre Dame
"It is an extremely timely book. It addresses its readers directly, taking nothing for granted, but forcing us to think out afresh the fundamental question of right and wrong in the conflicts that surround us, the conflicts in Iraq, the conflict against terrorism (however that may be defined), the conflict between Israel and Palestine. It is full of insights that throw light, sometimes quite casually, on the ideas of rights, or just war, or the abstract and detached nature of deontological theories of ethics, or the killing of innocents, or anti-semitism. Like it or not, we are captured and made to reflect."
Baroness Mary Warnock
"In this inspired and inspiring book Ted Honderich, one of today's preeminent
philosophers, forces us to rethink issues we may have hitherto taken for
granted related to terrorism, violence, and international justice. As he
bucks all sorts of trends, Honderich combines his forceful analytical rigor
with a nuanced open-mindedness, and with a passionate sensitivity for
Prof. Leo Zaibert, University of Wisconsin