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on 27 September 2012
In Defence of Wonder and Other Philosophical Reflections by Raymond Tallis

It would be easy to be put off a book with such a title. Not that we're not all interested in wonder, but 'philosophical reflections' can sometimes be a little introspective. Not so, this book. The thirty or so short essays cover a huge range of subjects (Time, Tense and Physics... the Theory of Everything; Reader I Sh**ed Him: Reflections on the Decline of the Asterisk..., for instance) and in each Raymond Tallis has the knack of applying just the right mix of high thought and brisk imagination. He is, thank goodness, a writer and so he knows how to spring an idea into life and when to offer a succinct metaphor or a splendid phrase. I found myself reading this book very quickly indeed, possibly too quickly, and I would recommend that readers make time to go back or even read the essays out of sequence, several twice if the mood takes. And what have I got from the collection? Well, I see the world a little bit differently, but more importantly it reminds me that nothing is obvious, we view the world too much through our own eyes and the universe is a very big place with many possible ways of looking at things.
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on 6 October 2012
Don't read this book unless you are willing to have to mind changed.
A really original thinker who wears his learning lightly, Tallis explores what it means to be an atheist today but unlike some celebrity authors he aims to persuade rather than bully you into agreement. Passages of his essay, 'Making use of death', would honour the finest secularist funeral.
The greatest complement I can pay is having read this book I immediately rushed off to purchase his previous work 'Aping Mankind'.
Joe Humphreys, journalist and author, Dublin, Ireland.
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on 28 April 2013
Tallis is both a philosopher and a former neurosurgeon so one might expect him to be incisive, intelligent, etcetera, as he most certainly is. In addition, he is frequently very funny, and always deeply humane. This is a man who knows pompous balderdash when he sees it and is unafraid to debunk. I particularly enjoyed his refutation of McTaggart's claim that time is unreal, his thoughts as to why Ian McEwan's novel, Saturday, is a "polished failure," and his response to Chekhov's story, Ward 6. At the same time, as the title suggests, Tallis opens up ordinary, habitual parts of life and reminds us how astounding and sometimes utterly mysterious they are. Tallis is a passionate, elegant, and poetic writer. Complex ideas are physicalised and made relatively easy to grasp. Highly recommended!
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on 20 September 2013
A series of reflective essays from an acute and informed mind. If, like me, you feel overwhelmed by current claims of scientism that the truth of human existence is to be found in the results of an MRI scan, these essays will reaffirm your faith in your humanity and humanism. the essay on 'Incontinental philosophy' (haven't got the book with me - this might not be an accurate rendition of the title but there's enough info to guide you to it) had me laughing out loud. Highly recommended.
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on 4 March 2013
It has founs pride of place on the shelves of philosophy alongside Alain de Botton and A.C Grayling. It is not as accessible and has to be read carefully and may even be best digested in small chunks.
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