Having just finished reading two excellent books on ancient ethics, Hadot's What is Ancient Philosophy?
and Nussbaum's The Therapy of Desire
, I was looking for books to extend my understanding of "the choice of Hercules", and this title popped up. Quickly scanning Grayling's extensive bibliography I thought it was a serious works on ethics, and having read Grayling's Wittgenstein
I knew that Grayling could be both readable and provide meaty philosophical arguments. But the book itself was a great disappointment.
Grayling strays form the title subject into rambling discussions of sexual ethics, human rights, and the usual hotch-potch of ethical hobby-horses that fill the columns of the Guardian. It reads like hurried journalism, and has nothing substantial to say about "the choice". It's quite well written journalism, and his heart is in the right place, so I'll give him a star for that. But this isn't enough. The work is obviously a hurriedly cobbled together essay that pales into laughability in comparison with the works of Hadot and Nussbam mentioned above. It simply adds to the fog of books that hide us from great works. I could have been reading more Hadot instead of being diverted by this fluff! Please Professor Grayling, stop churning out pot-boilers, and spend a few years writing a decent, substantial work.
I'll be making more extensive use of "Look Inside!" from now on, and watching carefully for philosophers trying to churn out best-sellers, which seems to be a sad trend these days. How do you find the readable, substantial works between the Scylla of trendy outpourings and the Charybdis of unreadable, obfuscating tomes?