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)
Number Of Pages: 256
Published: 26th June 2003
Dimensions (cm): 19.9 x 12.9 x 2.2
Weight (kg): 0.24