- Hardcover: 196 pages
- Publisher: Orion (9 Aug. 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0297607588
- ISBN-13: 978-0297607588
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.7 x 20.5 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 207,308 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Meaning of Things: Applying Philosophy to life Hardcover – 9 Aug 2001
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More About the Author
Author, journalist and philosopher AJ Grayling's new book The Meaning of Things: Applying Philosophy to Life is a collection of short, self-contained essays or sketches, which began as contributions to the Guardian's "Last Word" column. Like Alain de Botton in The Consolations of Philosophy Grayling is concerned with the application of philosophy to everyday life. However, he is less concerned with what a particular great philosopher might say about particular problems than with human vices and virtues and matters pertaining to the human condition.
The book is divided into three sections. Part 1 deals with the "Virtues and Attributes" of Tolerance, Mercy, Civility, Courage, Hope, Loyalty and Love; part 2, "Foes and Fallacies" is concerned with some of the things considered to be enemies to human flourishing such as Racism, Speciesism, Hate and Depression; and the final part, "Amenities and Goods" focuses on such themes as Reason, Excellence, Art, History and Leisure. The structure of the book and the arrangement of the topics works well so although the pieces are self-contained--allowing one to dip in and out randomly--one gets a sense of continuity if you read it cover to cover.
Opening with Montaigne's salutation "Reader, lo a well-meaning Booke", The Meaning of Things is reminiscent of Montaigne's Essays in form, content and spirit. Grayling has a reverence for classic liberal humanist virtues and a deep conviction that philosophy has an indispensable role to play if we are to live what Socrates called "the considered life": that is, a life "enriched by thinking about things that matter--values, aims, society, the characteristic vicissitudes of the human condition, desiderata both personal and public, the enemies of human flourishing, and the meanings of life". A book such as this is unusual and refreshing because it aims to edify the reader and is written without a trace of cynicism or irony. Grayling is a champion of Enlightenment values, a defender of high culture if you will but who writes for a popular audience without moralising. Peppered with nuggets of philosophical wisdom and written with clarity and economy, the book succeeds in showing how philosophically informed thinking about the things that matter can help us become better people and better citizens of the world. --Larry Brown
I find the clarity of his thinking so refreshing. (Pam Ferris) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
One of the best aspects of this book is that it is written such that you can read it in any order you wish. Each concept is a unique section taking between 2 and 10 pages, which allows the reader to delve into whatever tickles their fancy at a particular time. I ticked off the table of contents as I read the sections and highlighted interesting sentences from each concept during my first read. I have since skimmed through my highlights several times, which makes for a quick refresher of the issues that were of particular interest to me.
I am the type of person who likes to know a little bit about a lot of things, and this book caters for exactly that sort of reader. If this fits your profile, then get this book now. If your interested in delving into the depths of philosophy, then this is probably best to give a skip. Grayling is doing a great favour to us all by packaging philosophy in an organised, piecemeal, and easy to understand manner that wont have you sleeping by the end of the first 10 pages.
I think Grayling's books are best seen as a way of addressing this need. I think reviewers such as the single negative reviewer below miss the point if they are expecting hard philosophical arguments. Of course you can do no more than skate over a subject such as morality or virginity in the few pages Grayling devotes to each topic. But that is OK. There are many books available to those interested in a more in depth analysis. These thought are meant as no more than opening thoughts on an issue, from a smart and well read author, designed to get people to think avout these issues in a clear headed way. Grayling leans quite heavily on his understanding of history and Greek philosophy as an antidote to the modern analytical style of philosophy. I found his treatment of the many facets of love and romance particularly thought provoking.
I would also recommend the entry on Racism.
Given the brevity of the articles, sure they can't give you an in-depth discussion on the topic, but its just deep enough to get one thinking about the topics.
I think this would be an excellent 'pocket-book' to dip into for anyone in their late teens trying to come to terms with the world.
Having read this book, I've moved directly to reading Graylings follow-up book, The Reason of Things.
Only disappointment - no Bibliography, so when Grayling frequently quotes other Authors / Philosophers, I don't know where to go to for further reading.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Different cover to the one showing here. In general, I really like it:)Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
After suffering from personal issues I was recommended this book. I find it an interesting read combined with some common knowledge. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Miss E R Jeffery
I highly recommend this collection of essays, much food for thought clearly expressed and explained.Published 8 months ago by Mr. P. Holmes
Fascinating book, will end up buying all of his publications no doubt, explains loads of things, written clearly and in the way
this layman can understand.. Read more