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Ideas That Matter: A Personal Guide for the 21st Century: Key Concepts for the 21st Century [Hardcover]

Prof A.C. Grayling
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

16 April 2009

'Ideas are the cogs that drive history, and understanding them is half way to being aboard that powerful juggernaut rather than under its wheels'.

This is a book that celebrates the power of ideas: thought can, and does, change the world. And, in turn, ideas evolve. Fundamentalism, environmentalism and bioethics are defining our future just as Marxism, feminism or existentialism have influenced our present. So what do we need to know as we move into the 21st century? More than a simple reference work, this is A.C. Grayling's personal and heartfelt guide to the ideas, past and present, that shape our world. Covering religion, philosophy, scientific theory and political movements, each alphabetically ordered entry illuminates, elucidates and provokes. Written with Grayling's customary fire and erudition, the result is a book that aims both to arm readers with knowledge and engage them in philosophical debate.


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (16 April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297856766
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297856764
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.5 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 442,955 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

A.C. Grayling is Professor of Philosophy and Master of the New College of the Humanities, London. He believes that philosophy should take an active, useful role in society. He has written and edited many books, both scholarly and for a general readership, and has been a regular contributor to The Times, Financial Times, Observer, Independent on Sunday, Economist, Literary Review, New Statesman and Prospect, and is a frequent and popular contributor to radio and television programmes, including Newsnight, Today, In Our Time, Start the Week and CNN news. He is a former Fellow of the World Economic Forum at Davos, a Vice President of the British Humanist Association, an Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society, Patron of the UK Armed Forces Humanist association, Patron of Dignity in Dying, a former Booker Prize Judge, a Fellow of the Royal Literary Society, a member of the human rights group IHEU represented at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva; and much more.

Product Description

Review

"If there is any such person in Britain today as The Thinking Man, it is AC Grayling, Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck. He provides generous help for the ethically challenged, the philosophically perplexed and the culturally confused. There are any number of ideas in the modern world; they are like trees in a forest... Clearly and succinctly, without jargon or condescension, Grayling takes on the intellectual world and names its parts. He does us great service with this useful handbook." (Iain Finlayson THE TIMES - 09.05.09)

Anthony Grayling, philosopher, has constructed a personal dictionary... inspirational... casually brilliant... a series of brilliant, informative essays... provocative, forceful and informative. (SUNDAY HERALD - 03.05.09)

Book Description

Leading philosopher's guide to the ideas that will shape the 21st century

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
86 of 88 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
A.C. Grayling is an unfailingly compelling writer. Reasonable, clear, concise, elegant are only a few of the words that can be justly used to describe his writing and thought. This book is no exception. A collection of short, pithy, and always enlightening reflections on, as the title puts it, ideas that matter, organised so as to help the reader pursue particular interests in depth, Ideas that Matter: A Personal Guide for the 21st Century, is an invaluable source book for understanding the jumble of claims and counter-claims that swirl around us everyday.

The ideas are arranged in alphabetical order, and each entry refers to further entries that lead the reader more deeply into associated ideas. At the end of the book an appendix groups the various entries under general headings such as religion, science, politics and society, etc. For those who wish to pursue ideas at even greater depth Grayling provides an 'indicative' bibliography, pointing the reader to further sources of information on the ideas concerned, which, in turn, no doubt, will lead to futher reading and depth of understanding.

Grayling is not impartial, if by impartial be meant a desire not to offend religious believers by calling religious beliefs into question. He is, however, courteous in his dissent, no matter how strongly expressed; but, more importantly, he gives reasons for believing as he does, and rightly chides religion for its continuing failure to provide reasons why we should take religions as seriously as they take themselves. Grayling repudiates, with some justice, the title 'atheist' - this being a term of abuse used by the religious to describe those who do not believe - preferring more positive ways of describing his point of view, such as 'humanist' and 'naturalist'.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is a springboard to thought... 28 Dec 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Prior to reading this book I was quite out of my depth in any discussion about current affairs - either squirming with boredom or inflamed by the media, generally baffled, uneasy, uninformed and incapable of sharing an opinion.

Ideas That Matter has changed that.

This book provides a solid framework for thinking about the diversity of political, economic, social and religious ideas. It is structured to be easy to dip into. Each section is written in a clear, logical style with plenty of facts and humour. The writer transforms the ghastly chore of Thinking into an engaging and interesting occupation. Grayling's writing is inspiring and should prove capable of launching any reasonably intelligent person into their own explorations and investigations.

In my opinion Professor Grayling is a fine teacher.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ideas that Matter by A. C. Grayling 15 Dec 2009
Format:Hardcover
The book considers a broad range of issues that are pertinent to modern life. A 'further reading' section, where reference is made to other works and viewpoints, is included. I think that the author's intention was to encourage the reader to consider all the evidence before deciding whether what one is told has any truth or validity. This is particularly relevant in his references to the State and Religion. I liked the book. It largely confirmed my own beliefs and has encouraged me to examine this area of knowledge more closely.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grayling's Personal Guide 14 Aug 2011
By RR Waller TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Asked to suggest a list for a guide to ideas of the twenty-first century, AC Grayling would always be on the shortlist, very near to the top. He brings a philosopher's clarity of thought, a range of reading which is encyclopaedic (cf "A Short Indicative Bibliography", pp 393-413) and a use and love of language which makes the reading so enjoyable. (I have always found philosopher's to be wonderful users of language and can still remember where, why and with whom I heard certain words for the first time in philosophy seminars.
Arranged in alphabetical order, this work of reference can be dipped into, read in sections, started on one idea to follow the suggested links or just read for pleasure.
Knowing AC Grayling helps. It is "A Personal Guide" and, as such, is flavoured with his own bias.
Take an intellectual journey from "Absolutism to Zeitgeist" in the company of one of the great philosophers and intellectuals; like a high quality SatNav, you will find your way through some complex ideas with clarity.

Recommended
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14 of 154 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not truly a review but..... 27 April 2009
Format:Hardcover
This excerpt from the author's website would tend to imply there may be a slight political bias to his opinions - after all the Guardian, Observer and New Statesman are hardly revered for their political neutrality...

"He has written and edited many books on philosophy and other subjects; among his most recent are a biography of William Hazlitt and a collection of essays. For several years he wrote the "Last Word" column for the Guardian newspaper and is a regular reviewer for the Literary Review and the Financial Times. He also often writes for the Observer, Economist, Times Literary Supplement, Independent on Sunday and New Statesman, and is a frequent broadcaster on BBC Radios 4, 3 and the World Service. He is the Editor of Online Review London, Contributing Editor of Prospect magazine. In addition he sits on the editorial boards of several academic journals, and for nearly ten years was the Honorary Secretary of the principal British Philosophical Association, the Aristotelian Society. He is a past chairman of June Fourth, a human rights group concerned with China, and has been involved in UN human rights initiative."
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