Why Grow Up?
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Why Grow Up? : Subversive Thoughts for an Infantile Age

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In Why Grow Up, the latest volume in the Philosophy in Transit series, world-renowned philosopher Susan Neiman looks at growing up as an ideal with urgent relevance today

Becoming an adult today can seem a grim prospect. As you grow up, you are told to renounce most of the hopes and dreams of your youth, and resign yourself to a life that will be a pale dilution of the adventurous, important and enjoyable life you once expected. But who wants to do any of that? No wonder we live in a culture of rampant immaturity, argues internationally-renowned philosopher Susan Neiman, when maturity looks so boring.

In Why Grow Up, Neiman explores the forces that are arrayed against maturity, and shows how philosophy can help us want to grow up. Travel, both literally and as a metaphor, has been seen as a crucial step to coming of age by thinkers as diverse as Kant, Rousseau, Hume and Simone de Beauvoir. Neiman discusses childhood, adolescence, sex, and culture, and asks how the idea of travel can help us build a model of maturity that makes growing up a good option and leaves space in our culture for grown-ups. Refuting the widespread belief that the best time of your life is the decade between sixteen and twenty-six, she argues that being grown-up is itself an ideal: one that is rarely achieved in its entirety, but all the more worth striving for.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 256 pages
  • 129 x 198 x 15mm | 191g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0141982497
  • 9780141982496
  • 251,382

Review Text

An excellent work ... Parts are as thought-provoking as reading Kant himself - and a damned sight easier Independent
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Review quote

An excellent work ... Parts are as thought-provoking as reading Kant himself - and a damned sight easier * Independent * Exemplary ... Genuinely subversive -- A. O. Scott * New York Times * A spirited defence of the aspiration to maturity. As Neiman sagely observes, by clinging impotently to youth, we impoverish youth and maturity alike . . . Neiman is an impassioned and lucid expositor of some very recondite concepts, with that rare ability . . . to convey the continued relevance and urgency of philosophy for our distracted times -- Josh Cohen * Guardian * [Neiman] is not only a fine analyst but an acute stylist too, both scintillating and self-disciplined - a very rare thing in a philosopher -- Jonathan Ree * Times Literary Supplement * This elegant and accessible book is the philosophical kick up the arse my generation desperately needs -- Tom Slater * Spiked * To the barricades, armed with reason: Susan Neiman makes the case for toppling society's infantilism. Plumbing the depths of philosophy, she has written the most important book of the hour -- Katrin Schuhmacher * MDR Figaro * Neiman makes the case not only for thinking but for political engagement. Her passion eliminates any sort of pedantry -- Birgit Schmidt * Tagesanzeiger * The way Neiman interprets the Kantian idea of growing up - that of a never-ending task - has something subversive, and that's almost enough to make one young again -- Peter Praschl * Die Welt * Neiman's view on using philosophy to guide ourselves into adulthood is a wonderful example of how the writings of past philosophers can be applied to our current lives. Her writing is accessible for those without a background in philosophy, and her book is a pleasant introduction to those unfamiliar with Kant and Rousseau -- Scott Duimstra * Library Journal * [A] small book of big ideas -- Kate Tuttle * Boston Globe * Beautiful and luminous -- James Wood Philosophy doesn't get much better than this ... Neiman's sense of humour is a plus, but her greatest strength is her ability to distill centuries of thought to their essence, provoking her readers along the way. Neiman convincingly makes the case that growing up is not tantamount to "inevitable decline," and that the hard work to make maturity fulfilling is worth the effort * Publishers Weekly * Philosopher Susan Neiman restores some measure of sanity to the discussion of age, infantilism, "growing up," and all of its attendant fussing. Hopefully this considered, often brilliant book will shape the discourse on maturity for the foreseeable future -- Jonathan Sturgeon * Flavorwire * Neiman's view on using philosophy to guide ourselves into adulthood is a wonderful example of how the writings of past philosophers can be applied to our current lives. Her writing is accessible for those without a background in philosophy, and her book is a pleasant introduction to those unfamiliar with Kant and Rousseau -- Scott Duimstra * Library Journal * Neiman's book is a pleasure to read because she writes well and thinks lucidly and because her values are invigorating -- Vivian Gornick * Boston Review * This is the most positive description of adulthood I have ever encountered. One that is about strength and thought, not about the sage bodycon or even the houses and children. We can get there. Are you ready yet? -- Anna Fielding * Emerald Street * Stirring stuff . . . [Neiman is] impassioned and thorough, alive with curiosity, devilishly well read, fairminded, and funny. Her writing is strongest when she employs her good humour and graciousness . . . The philosophers' calls to grow up, and grow up well, are frequent, and in Neiman's hands surprising and moving -- Katie Haegele * Philly.com * Star philosopher Susan Neiman makes a stand for maturity, and that is refreshing * de Volkskrant * Wonderful . . . Surely a small treasure every bit as interesting as Bertrand Russell's gem What is Philosophy? * Wichita Eagle * Neiman knows how to keep philosophy fresh and contemporary * De Standaard * Neiman comes as a welcome relief in the confusing sea of thinkers. Her language is natural and familiar and her style simple and smooth. She has a keen insight into the history of thought ... She makes us see Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Immanuel Kant in a completely new light ... This is a book on parenting as much as it is a book about rereading Enlightenment. Philosophy has for once become readable and more importantly, enjoyable. Recommended for anyone interested in human life * Prabuddha Bharata *
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About Susan Neiman

Susan Neiman is an American moral philosopher who has taught at Yale and Tel Aviv University. She currently lives in Germany, where she is the Director of the Einstein Forum in Potsdam.
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Rating details

430 ratings
3.76 out of 5 stars
5 21% (90)
4 45% (192)
3 26% (112)
2 7% (28)
1 2% (8)
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