The Reason of Things

The Reason of Things : Living with Philosophy

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The follow-up to THE MEANING OF THINGS which continues A.C. 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 about what human life should best be. Some would, with justice, say that if we want 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 more

Product details

  • Paperback | 256 pages
  • 132 x 202 x 20mm | 240g
  • Orion Publishing Co
  • Phoenix (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd )
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Revised ed.
  • 0753817136
  • 9780753817131
  • 72,450

Review Text

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)show more

Review quote

Just a reminder in the middle of our campaign for WHAT IS GOOD?, AC Grayling's new hardback, that we have the paperback of his THE REASON OF THINGS whichwe are co-promoting at all the events and which will get good review coverage at the end of June. Full details of events and festivals is on the author events schedule and also under WHAT IS GOOD? With AC now a Booker Judge it is very much his year. More news soon!show more

About A. C. Grayling

A.C. Grayling is Master of the New College of the Humanities, and a Supernumerary Fellow of St Anne's College, Oxford. Until 2011 he was Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London. He is the author of numerous books, and is also a distinguished literary journalist and broadcaster. He has been a columnist for the Guardian and The Times, is a Contributing Editor of Prospect magazine, and Editor of Online Review London. He is a Fellow of both the Royal Society of Literature and the Royal Society of Arts. His website can be visited at more

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416 ratings
3.81 out of 5 stars
5 26% (109)
4 42% (173)
3 22% (91)
2 8% (34)
1 2% (9)
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