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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No self-help-manual - a well-balanced philosophical guide
With this book Julian Baggini continues to qualify himself as a contemporary successor of Bertrand Russell. In a clear and entertaining prose he shows us the contribution philosophy and philosophers can make, if we look for the meaning of (our personal) life. Baggini blows metaphysical fog away but doesn't oversimplify. Let me mention especially chapter 4 "Here to...
Published on 7 Nov 2005 by Michael Murauer

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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An invitation
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,...
Published on 19 Dec 2006 by Renée Janssen


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5.0 out of 5 stars This book should be read by all people who aspire to have a Rational view of life., 23 Dec 2013
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Very well written in a way that is easily understood by the " ordinary person ( man ) in the street.
I would say it is, potentially, a life changing book. It is also a very enjoyable read.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An invitation, 19 Dec 2006
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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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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good, 16 Sep 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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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What's it all about? Your on your way to finding out after finishing this book, 20 Sep 2006
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Sean Gainford "Big G" (London) - See all my reviews
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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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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compact grand tour of the subject, 24 Nov 2006
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Alan Urdaibay - See all my reviews
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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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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well then, 13 Feb 2010
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Lee K. Freeman "fml" (seaham, co.durham, uk) - See all my reviews
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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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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars yet to read, 28 Mar 2014
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Afraid i have yet to read this Book,however a brief glimpse through it suggests that it seems ok.
Cant put down much else for now.
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2 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Apparantly, its all about dead ends, 4 Feb 2010
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The author writes very well and dumbs down some complex ideas, but at the end of the day you are none the wiser. I could be recommended as a tour the force of pseudo-answers to the question of life's meanng. Though of course he could not answer the question.

On p. 154, furthermore, he tries to criticize the budhdhist idea that personality rests of khandhas. Here he reveals that he has not gotten the point. Khadhas are simply the componens that make up a functioning human being. Take away enough of them and there will not be anyhting left. No "soul" or other permanent entity. There is nothing in mordern science to contradict this: Take away some parts of the brain and you may still function, albeit in a limited manner. take away all parts of the brain and you die. end of story. Baggini has failed to understand this!
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