The Philosopher and the Wolf

The Philosopher and the Wolf : Lessons from the Wild on Love, Death and Happiness

4.13 (1,584 ratings by Goodreads)
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This fascinating book charts the relationship between Mark Rowlands, a rootless philosopher, and Brenin, his extraordinarily well-travelled wolf. More than just an exotic pet, Brenin exerted an immense influence on Rowlands as both a person, and, strangely enough, as a philosopher, leading him to re-evaluate his attitude to love, happiness, nature and death. By turns funny (what do you do when your wolf eats your air-conditioning unit?) and poignant, this life-affirming book will make you reappraise what it means to be more

Product details

  • Paperback | 256 pages
  • 128 x 194 x 18mm | 181.44g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1847081029
  • 9781847081025
  • 14,012

Review quote

'This year's most original and instructive work of popular philosophy ... a remarkable portrait of the bond that can exist between a human being and a beast ... [Rowlands is ] a rare contemporary philosopher who is able to learn from everything he experiences in life, not just books and academic journals. That is what makes The Philosopher and the Wolf so refreshing' Financial Times 'An extraordinary memoir' Daily Mail 'A powerfully subversive critique of the unexamined assumption that shape the way most philosophers - along with most people - think about animals and themselves' Literary Review 'Rowland's memoir is life-affirming, engrossing, thoughtful and moving ... The Philosopher and the Wolf could become a philosophical cult classic' TLS 'Nothing short of human existence, survival and our relationship to all other creatures is examined here and it's all written in a beautifully elegiac way. The heart-strings will be pulled and the mind stimulated' City AMshow more

About Mark Rowlands

MARK ROWLANDS is currently Professor of Philosophy at the University of Miami. See also and his blog www.secularphilosophy.comshow more

Review Text

A unique human-animal friendship becomes the springboard and locus for exploring issues in metaphysics, ethics, existentialism, theodicy and human emotion.Through philosophical reflections combined with a personal narrative of the ten-plus year period he lived with a wolf named Brenin, Rowlands (Philosophy/Univ. of Miami, Body Language, 2006, etc.) constructs both a memoir and a philosophical journal. Each chapter is packed with personal anecdotes - for example, the author and friends picking up girls at rugby parties with Brenin's "help" - and with philosophical explorations ranging from notions of time, consciousness and freedom to ideas regarding malice, evil and death. Rowlands also investigates humankind's supposed obsession with feelings and sets out to redefine, or at least re-envision, such emotions as happiness, love and pleasure. His knowledge of the Western philosophical tradition is rich, ranging from Aristotle through Hobbes, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Wittgenstein and Sartre. The author's presentation of difficult philosophical concepts and of more general human experience is keen and readable, though his insights are often profoundly misanthropic. The narrative is alternately humorous and affecting, even self-deprecating at times, but the tone can also be arrogant, self-indulgent and self-aggrandizing. This creates an odd and largely duplicitous kind of irony, since Rowlands' primary impulse seems to be an attempt to reveal the depravity of human nature. Wolf and canine qualities are privileged throughout the text, albeit in compelling and convincing ways. The author learns from Brenin, for example, that "in happiness, pleasant and unpleasant aspects form an indissoluble whole." The wolf is the real teacher in this relationship.Supercilious at times and misanthropic throughout, but Rowlands offers an accessible, intriguing way to engage complex philosophical ideas. (Kirkus Reviews)show more
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