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The Reason of Things : Living with Philosophy - A.C. Grayling

The Reason of Things

Living with Philosophy


Published: 1st September 2003
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The follow-up to THE MEANING OF THINGS which continues AC Grayling's philosophical journey through life

The most important question we can ask ourselves is: what kind of life is the best? This is the same as asking: How does one give meaning to one's life? How can one justify one's existence and make it worthwhile?

How does one make experience valuable, and keep growing and learning in the process - and through this learning acquire a degree of understanding of oneself and the world?

A civilised society is one which never ceases debating with itself aboutwhat human life should best be. Some would, with justice, say that if wewant ours to be such a society we must all contribute to that discussion.

This book is, with appropriate diffidence, such a contribution. It consists of a collection of Grayling's regular 'Last Word' columns in the Guardian.This time topics include Suicide, Deceit, Luxury, Profit, Marriage, Meat-eating, Liberty, Slavery, Protest, Guns and War.

About the Author

Anthony Grayling teaches philosophy at Birkbeck College, London and is a Fellow of St Anne's, Oxford. He reviews regularly in the Financial Times. He has a regular column in Prospect and the Guardian on Saturday.

The attempts of philosophers to engage with the 'ordinary' man or woman are often failures. A C Grayling, as his popular success The Meaning of Things showed, is something of an exception. In this sequel he debates, in 60 short essays, how best we should make our lives meaningful, and how we may approach the problem of self-understanding. He is a Baconian by nature - his attitude is for the most part pragmatic: he suggests that it is clearly absurd not to allow euthanasia when it is obviously 'the right and merciful course'. He reminds us that if indeed there is an all-powerful deity, he, she or it is responsible for the world's horrors as well as its delights. Sometimes he simply praises the work of other writers, Hazlitt and Addison in particular. He is often pleasantly contentious: discussing Western anti-pornography laws, he points out that it was St Paul who was responsible for 'a groaning mass of sexual frustration in Western history and its inevitable result: pornography and deviation'. He does not confine himself to the great moral subjects - religion, sex, power, evil, war, suicide - but discusses subjects around the edges of these: fasting, games, conservation, safety, clones.... Occasionally he will dedicate an entire essay to the work of another philosopher, or perhaps an anthropologist (such as Pascal Boyer, to whose explanation of the place of religion in human life he devotes a whole discourse, or Tzvetan Todorov, whose book on life in concentration camps he discusses in his essay on morality). There will of course be readers who disagree with him - when, for instance, he claims that the 'supposedly traditional nuclear family' is not necessarily traditional at all. But his book proves admirably his contention (in his essay on luxury) that 'thought is the greatest luxury of all'. (Kirkus UK)

A.C. Grayling

A.C. Grayling is Master of the New College of the Humanities, London, and a Supernumerary Fellow of St Anne's College, Oxford. Until 2011 he was Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London. He believes that philosophy should take an active, useful role in society.

He is the author of many books, including The Meaning of Things and Towards the Light: The Story of the Struggles for Liberty in the Modern West, and has been a regular contributor to The Times, Financial Times, Observer, Independent on Sunday, Economist, Literary Review, New Statesman and Prospect. He has been a Booker Prize judge and is a frequent and popular contributor to radio and television programmes, including Newsnight, Today, In Our Time, Start the Week and CNN news.

Visit A.C. Grayling's Booktopia Author Page

ISBN: 9780753817131
ISBN-10: 0753817136
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 256
Published: 1st September 2003
Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 19.8 x 12.9  x 1.9
Weight (kg): 0.25
Edition Number: 1