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Heady Philosophical Meanderings,
This review is from: The Kingdom of Infinite Space: A Fantastical Journey Around Your Head (Hardcover)
Raymond Tallis' The Kingdom of Infinite Space uses an exploration of the head (importantly excluding the brain) to spark philosophical digressions on numerous topics. These are wide ranging, encompassing identity, ego, self, embodiment, knowledge, existentialism, phenomenology, sexuality and psychology. He often retraces areas he's visited in earlier books, but this is made up for by the originality of the positions he is taking.
Tallis' continues his critique of the brain-mind identity theory, of a reductionist evolutionary biology and of a misanthropic, animalistic view of humanity. In there stead he offers a complex, incomplete, view of consciousness connected and disconnected from the body; borrows from Sartre, Nietzsche and Heidegger to provide a nuanced and humble account of the self; explores the incredible capabilities of the flesh that surrounds us and offers up an optimistic appraisal of the knowing animal.
The style, as always with Tallis, is chatty, witty, informative and clever. He draws on other philosophers and great literature to provide an excellent set of quotes that add depth to the book and everything is interlaced with amusing and interesting facts. The pessimistic anti-philosopher Emil Cioran used to berate philosophers for being anaemic, in many cases this is a fair evaluation, but I couldn't imagine something being less anaemic than The Kingdom of Infinite Space or the polymath philosopher who wrote it.
In the preface Tallis' says that he will be content if, at the end of this book, his readers are, `astounded tourists of the bit of the world that is closest to being what they themselves are[...]' Speaking as one reader, Tallis should be more than content.