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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 2 February 2014
I thought this book was great in that it provides a gentle platform to some of the larger questions of philosophy. Baggini has a way of expressing a complicated thought and then re-examining the truth behind it in a manner that is understandable to those who may not be as well versed in the theories of philosophy. A thoroughly enjoyable read that has encouraged me to tackle more on the subject.
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on 19 August 2012
Very happy with this purchase....went through the process of explaining subjects where people find meaning....and then giving the pros and cons. Excellent way of writing and exploring.

The only book that i have ever read and uderlined sentences or marked passages that i can re-read at any time.
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on 7 May 2015
Makes a lot of sense. In sum, it's about being the person whom you want to be and doing the things you need to do to be that person! There is not one "meaning of life", there are many. Read the book to understand why! I've read a lot of books on the meaning of life - some were beautifully written, but none made as much sense or were as persuasive as this one.
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on 19 December 2006
Talking about big questions, searching for the meaning of life is no picnic. Of course, Baggini has not written this cute little book to actually provide THE answer - he is merely browsing through the options. He shortly discusses every very potential answer, leaving plenty of room for the personal thoughts and ideas of the reader. However, at certain points in this book, Baggini's evaluation remains a little to 'basic' - to my taste.

In other words, What's It All About is a nice read (in the train, on the beach), but mainly to give your mind some interesting ideas to philosophize about. If you read this book just to take notice of the many meanings people can find in their lives, chances are you'll be disappointed. On the other hand, if you use each chapter as a starting point for your own thoughts, you'll certainly appreciate this book.
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on 30 September 2015
This was a thoughtful and logical consideration of where the meaning of life might lie.
However it occurred to me that the author neglected to consider the meaning of life from an evolutionary point of view.
We are part of the natural world - an advanced mammal - so therefore the basic behavior of simpler species should be contrasted with us.
When we examine other animals, birds and fish etc. their aims are clear - survival and fundamentally reproduction.
Our thoughts and sense of self lead us to speculate on a whole range of loftier purposes for our lives. Despite this we are basically little different from other forms of life in our key motivators.
So in effect, I would suggest that to reproduce is the purpose in life coded in our DNA. So perhaps, at an instinctive level, having offspring is what makes all organisms most happy and complete.
Starting a family may be what it's all about.
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on 16 September 2008
So what's it all about? Think you know the answer? Well if you do or if you fancy a philosophical approach to this intriguing question this is the book for you.

Baggini begins by trying to make sense of this very thought provoking question - a sort of what's the meaning of the question itself before going anywhere near an attempt to look for answers. This ensures that the question itself is probably understood and it is a clear, logical approach to take. There's never any point trying to answer a question you don't understand or doesn't make sense.

He then looks at some popular answers: belief in God, altruism, the greater good, happiness, success, loosing yourself through transcedence, carpe diem. In each case he shows that after some close examination that each respective answer is flawed. He does this by working his way through the respective answers in detail and then poking holes thus showing that things that seem to make sense just don't add up when examined. His writing is clear and succint. No philosophical creditials are required from ther reader. Just an open mind and a willingness to question.

What becomes apparent is that maybe our brains are just incapable of answering the 'meaning of life' question. Maybe it's just part of human nature to seek meaning and purpose when in fact there might just be none. Many answers, each with their own unique appeal, wow factor and catchy jargon, may have popular appeal but after some logical anaylsis, they come across as no more than visceral notions, which don't really make much sense and seem to have only manifested to appease a question that we long to answer but simply cannot answer. So our we fools for thinking about life so simply? Well that's perhaps a bit harsh but what's clear is that answers which may seem appropriate aren't. Is that such a bad thing? No. There's no great tradegy in discovering flaws in our beliefs for it just means we have to reflect, mature and try to face reality for what it really is rather than what we wish it to be. By then adjusting our lofty notions, presumptions and expectations we can seek and find real meaning through an honest and objective views of ourselves and our lives.
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on 20 April 2010
Intelligent writing with a light-hearted, entertaining approach. Each chapter discusses a so-called answer to the meaning of life e.g. religion, helping others, achievements, happiness, with a wealth of further reading for anyone who wants to explore an issue further. Perfect for anyone who's ever fancied reading about philosophy but feared it would be too heavy-going.
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on 24 November 2006
A small volume that provides food for thought about the big issues. One small gripe would be that, like most philosophers, Baggini tends at times to think that knowledge can be acquired merely by thinking very clearly. This does provide a very good starting point but is insufficient. For example, Descartes tried it with 'I think, therefore I am'. Clear thinking can demonstrate the wrongness of his conclusion that nothing else but god could be verified, it is true, since clearly the language Descartes wrote this in is a social construct and he couldn't have used it in a world comprised only of himself. However, science can disprove even his first observation. Sufferers from Cotard's syndrome have a sense of identity and autobiography but believe they have ceased to exist - 'Am I dead?' they ask. Baggini dismisses the conclusions of evolutionary biology in the same way that Descartes might be supposed to dismiss the conclusions of modern neuroscience. However, much of the fun of reading philosophy is that it provides a challenge to think and Baggini's well-argued and usually crisp text does that well. Baggini takes on a big theme in a few pages and the overall result is a gem with few obvious flaws.
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on 20 September 2006
Excellent. The question to what is the meaning of life, as Julian Baggini states, involves not just one question but many. This book informs the reader that this life has meaning in itself and we don't have to wait to transcend this world (which many religious people believe) to eventually understand 'What's it all about?' We ourselves have the power of determining our own purposes in life, and it does not have to be left up to some higher power to assign it to us.

In the brilliant chapter 'Lose Your Self' Baggini give a great, witty critique to those 'spiritualist' who think that they can transcend their body and mind, loosing the sense of self in favour of some 'higher reality'. If you really want to lose yourself, as Baggini says, 'then that can be arranged - it's called death.' And for all those who are constantly reminding people to have an open mind, Baggini gives a great little educational lesson in the same chapter: that if we are ever going to get anywhere at all then not just an open mind is needed but also a little narrowing of the mind is too. For if your mind is too open then your brains will fall out.

Informative, well reasoned, clearly written, and a joy to read.
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on 13 February 2010
The book is okay. I like the candid style and language style - not to bogged down in jargon- but felt there was something lacking in the book as it didn't hold my interest.
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