Start reading What is Good?: The Search for the Best Way to Live on your Kindle in under a minute. Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here or start reading now with a free Kindle Reading App.

Deliver to your Kindle or other device


Try it free

Sample the beginning of this book for free

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

What is Good?: The Search for the Best Way to Live [Kindle Edition]

A.C. Grayling
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £9.99
Kindle Price: £6.49 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
You Save: £3.50 (35%)
Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
* Unlike print books, digital books are subject to VAT.

Free Kindle Reading App Anybody can read Kindle books—even without a Kindle device—with the FREE Kindle app for smartphones, tablets and computers.

To get the free app, enter your e-mail address or mobile phone number.


Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition £6.49  
Hardcover --  
Paperback £9.99  
Kindle Daily Deal
Kindle Daily Deal: Up to 70% off
Each day we unveil a new book deal at a specially discounted price--for that day only. Learn more about the Kindle Daily Deal or sign up for the Kindle Daily Deal Newsletter to receive free e-mail notifications about each day's deal.

Book Description

A.C. Grayling answers the most important question - How do we live a good life?

One of the most fundamental questions in our life is to find out what we value - what principles we want to live by and which codes we will use to guide our behaviour. Most of us want to live a good life. But what, in today's secular society, does 'good' actually mean?

To classical Greeks, the acquisition of knowledge, the enjoyment of the senses, creativity and beauty were all aspects of life to strive for. Then came the volcanic declarations of St Paul and his fundamentalist ideas on sin and human nature. In WHAT IS GOOD?, A.C. Grayling examines these and other proposals on how to live a good life, from the 'heroic' ideals of the Greek poets to Kant's theories on freedom and the UN Declaration on Human Rights.

Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought

Page of Start over
This shopping feature will continue to load items. In order to navigate out of this carousel please use your heading shortcut key to navigate to the next or previous heading.

Product Description


"Intelligent introduction... rewards your endeavours." -- Martin Tierney, THE HERALD

"The book is beautifully written and highly engaging and it contains no footnotes." -- TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT

"This book reminds us that often the greatest disagreements are between priorities rather than principles." -- INDEPENDENT

Book Description

A.C. Grayling answers the most important question - How do we live a good life?

Product details

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.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
125 of 127 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Guide to the Good Life 22 July 2003
By Poldy
Anthony Grayling is a philosopher with a difference: he actually wants people to read what he writes! And, with books like this, we should all be reading him. The majority of the book is taken up with overviews of how the "good life" has been seen through the ages: from Plato and Aristotle, through the various religions, to more modern interpretations. Grayling beautifully debunks the claims of religion, not least by demonstrating that there is no connection between belief in a god, and behaving well to our fellow creatures. He also questions whether god, on the evidence of the Bible, is actually good, and, whether good or otherwise, why we should obey. Grayling's style is pacy and readable, free from jargon and easy to follow, though far from dumbed down. Grayling shows that a life free from religious superstition is far from bleak, lonely or immoral, but is, in fact, a life of reason, full of the joy of being a part of the natural world which science and the arts have opened up to us. He demonstrates that a morality based on a sincere regard for life is far more valid than one based on religious superstition and the fear of retribution from an "invisible pliceman". Anyone who has ever asked themselves questions such as "What is life for?" "Why am I here?" or "How do I live a good and meaningful life?" really needs to read this book.
Was this review helpful to you?
30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Grayling provides what must be the most enjoyable journey through the history of the search for the good life that is in print today. Always adopting a strong humanist slant (and he puts his cards on the table in the introduction) he charts the struggle between "free will" and submission to divine power across the centuries. In his closing chapters he endeavours to make an overwhelmingly strong case for the human life in a human world, humanly lived and in my opinion he succeeds.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By Sphex
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Broadly speaking, there are two "ways of understanding the nature and sources of value": the secular and the transcendental. Since the rise of science in the seventeenth century these attitudes "have come increasingly into competition, and the resulting accumulation of tension between them is one of the greatest problems faced by the modern world." So begins A. C. Grayling's inspiring exploration of what it means to be good. "My claim is that the great ethical debate that has always confronted mankind, and does so still, is between a fundamentally humanistic view and the religious moralities it opposes." There is no doubt which side Grayling himself takes and that voices like his need to be heard, given the power and privileges and deference still demanded by some religious groups. Many continue to believe in the supernatural origin of good and would nod approvingly at the church sign that says "good" without "God" is "o" or nothing. That this is false is made clear throughout this tremendous book.

The historical scope is daunting, the subject challenging philosophically and yet personally important to each one of us, the positions entrenched - it's a tribute to Grayling's professional expertise and commitment to clarity of thought and writing that he marshals the material so well. The tour begins in ancient Greece with Thales, "the first known Enlightenment thinker", whose rejection of "superstition or reliance on traditional beliefs" was "an essential feature of the Greek mentality". Socrates thought that scientific knowledge was "of no practical use to mankind" and that the more important question was that "of the good life and how to live it.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Rediscovery of Ethics 3 Jun. 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you are looking for a prescription of what constitutes a 'good life' then this book may disappoint. It would be better seen as an overview of the twists and turns which moral development in the West has gone through. It starts by considering the contributions of the ancient Greeks, passes through the Oriental influence from Christianity and Islam and ends by considering contemporary issues in medical ethics and human rights.

Other reviewers have already heaped praise onto the fourth chapter - The Ordinances of God. Whereas Richard Dawkins praises the morality portrayed in the New Testament, A.C. Grayling has a much more hard-hitting and uncompromising approach. He points out that there were more highly developed moral systems in existence at least 500 years prior. In addition, he describes Christianity, Islam and Judaism as anti-moral or, sometimes, immoral. This is indeed an excellent and thought-provoking chapter.

One other revelation from this book was the two paragraphs (on page 45) where he describes the Epicurean attitudes to deities and to death. This was very elegantly done and left me with a realisation of the extent to which Epicureanism was slurred as hedonistic. I suspect that many atheists would nod in agreement with the Epicurean stance.

If you approach this book expecting to be told the best way to live, then as I said above, you may be disappointed. On the other hand, if you treat it as a 250 page history of 2500 years of Western morality then it is an engaging, stimulating and thoughtful book.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Were these reviews helpful?   Let us know
Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
very interesting
Published 1 month ago by Gavin Millar
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A very enjoyable book
Published 1 month ago by ROBERT MILLAR
5.0 out of 5 stars A good, readable review of philosopher's through the ages on ...
A good, readable review of philosopher's through the ages on this topic, culminating in Grayling's own humane and humanistic conclusions and, unlike some self-styled humanists, he... Read more
Published 6 months ago by MRS JANET E WILLIAMS
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
good read - if you are a philosophy fan!
Published 9 months ago by jane iles
5.0 out of 5 stars A thought provoking and important read for any mature adult
AC Grayling is an outstanding informed thoughtful accessible intellect and this shines through the pages of his books. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Matthew White
4.0 out of 5 stars Have you ever thought of just being good?
Top Notch Grayling. Almost feel like being good after reading this, but philosophy is not the answer . The answer is science.
Published 21 months ago by Mr. D. McKnight
4.0 out of 5 stars An enlightening story
The book is written in plain English easy to understand without talking down to the reader. It has added to my understanding of the progression of enlightenment and I have already... Read more
Published on 30 July 2013 by Keith Greenway
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable but flawed
This little volume is quite illuminating on an important subject, but is rather flawed when taken as a whole. Read more
Published on 14 April 2012 by johann28
3.0 out of 5 stars Well researched but a grating writing style
Although AC Grayling clearly possesses an in depth knowledge of issues concerning how to live a 'good life' spanning most major areas of philosophical thought on the issue, his... Read more
Published on 4 Feb. 2012 by caw1994
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb: lucid, rational, cogent. Excellent!
My first A. C. Grayling purchase was the excellent Ideas That Matter, whose subtitle - 'A Personal Guide for the 21st Century' - hints at a similar approach to the one taken in... Read more
Published on 8 Nov. 2011 by Sebastian Palmer
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions

Look for similar items by category