OPINIONSrnScholarship and Bricolagernby E. Christian KopffrnShame and Necessityrnby Bernard WilliamsrnBerkeley: University of California Press;rn254pp.,$2S.OOrnSuppose it is true that we are living inrna post-Christian age. On what basisrnshall we live our lives, make moral decisions,rncreate and destroy? I suppose that,rnif Christianity were to disappear as thernguiding moral force in the United States,rnit would be replaced by another religion,rnprobably Islam. People like Ernest Gellnerrnseem to believe that we could proceedrnonwards from our Enlightenmentrntradition to formulate and live by a newrnrational morality. In Shame and Necessity,rnBritish philosopher Bernard Williamsrnturns to the Greek world of Homer andrnAttic tragedy to discover the secret behindrntheir way of thought and of life.rnLike Nietzsche and Heidegger, Williamsrnis looking to find what was right in thernGreek dawn, and where Western Manrntook the wrong path in his subsequentrnlong journey.rnWilliams devotes many pages to attackingrn”progressivism,” the belief thatrntime improves all things and that thereforernthe modern world, and our way ofrnviewing reality, is better than the past’srnE. Christian Kopff is a professor of Greekrnand Latin at the University of Coloradornin Boulder.rnway. Much of Shame and Necessity is arnclassical version of Herbert Butterfield’srnfamous polemic against the “WhigrnInterpretation of History.” Its victim isrnthe great German scholar, Bruno Snell,rnwhose Discovery of the Mind (1948)rndominated classical studies for a generationrnafter Wodd War II, in tandem withrnthe Oxfordian Eric Dodds’ The Greeksrnand the Irrational (1951). (Dodds’book,rnlike Williams’, was delivered at Berkeleyrnas part of the Sather Classical Lecturesrnsenes.) A key date in the assault on progressivismrnwas the publication in 1971 ofrnSir Hugh Lloyd-Jones’ Sather Lectures,rnThe justice of Zeus. To see how muchrnthings have changed in the past tworndecades, one need only compare thernoutrage which greeted Lloyd-Jones’ brilliantrnbook with the hosannas that havernpoured down on Williams. The latter’srnridicule of the view that Homer’s greatrnepics are morally primitive will helprnthose who are taken in by the progressivistrndrivel of Julian Jaynes—whose Originrnof Consciousness in the Breakdown ofrnthe Bicameral Mind assimilates the thinkingrnof Achilles and Odysseus to the psychosesrnof the Liverpool Strangler—butrnlittle in Williams’ book will seem new tornprofessional classicists.rnThe best chapter, “Shame and Autonomy,”rnis a masterpiece of moral thinkingrnand careful literary analysis. Williamsrnnot only rejects the progressivist argumentrnthat shame and guilt represent tworndifferent kinds of society and human being,rnthe latter inherently superior to thernformer, but shows the importance ofrnshame in any healthy human morality.rnModerns wonder why there are so manyrnmore manuscripts from antiquity andrnthe medieval world of Sophocles’ A/axrnthan of his Oedipus or Antigone. A warriorrnwho kills himself rather than sufferrnhumiliation seems to us on a more primitivernlevel than a brave woman whornwould rather die than betray her duty tornfamily and gods. Williams helps us takernAjax seriously again.rn”Shame looks to what I am,” Williamsrnpoints out. His elegant polemic sometimesrnleads him to argue as though guiltrnwere a bad thing, but he himself remindsrnus that a healthy society needs guilt, too.rnGuilt has us look to others as shame hasrnus look to ourselves. The idea that evolutionrnproceeds from a primitive ShamernCulture to an advanced Guilt Culture isrnnot demonstrable from the historicalrnrecord and in fact conflicts with our ownrnfeelings and observations. We see othersrn—and if we are introspective we feelrnourselves—making decisions at times inrndeference to what other people will say,rnand sometimes because of our own internalizedrnmoral commitments. The ancientrnGreeks did the same; evolution hasrnnothing to do with it.rnWilliams’ important chapter on “NecessaryrnIdentities” is much less successful.rn”Modern liberal thought rejects all necessaryrnsocial identities…. It has given itselfrnthe task of constructing a frameworkrn26/CHRONICLESrnrnrn