16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Flawed, but essential.,
This review is from: Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals (Paperback)In essence, Straw Dogs criticizes the structure of thought underlying the sociopolitical and economic views of the Western world. Gray himself describes his book in the foreword as, “an attack on the unthinking beliefs of thinking people”.
This opening salvo sets the adversarial tone for the rest of the book. Gray’s approach is to start each short sub-chapter with a catchy headline (e.g. 'Morality As An Aphrodisiac') and a brash, counter-intuitive soundbite or two (e.g. ‘Post-Christians deny themselves the pleasure of guilt….as a result they are notably lacking in joie de vivre’). Gray drags us swiftly from premise to conclusion and, just as we are about to protest at his apparent sleight of hand, he brings in the heavy mob, paraphrasing famous and not-so-famous philosophers, scientists, and religious and literary figures. His attack is blunt and he samples irreverently the works of others in whatever context suits his argument. If Gray were a musician, he’d be a rapper.
The book works spectacularly well in one important respect: it makes the reader question their own prejudices. It outlines, in the context of philosophy, where we humans are today and how we got here. In many ways, the incompleteness and inconsistencies in Gray’s arguments merely inspire the reader to fill in the gaps by seeking out other sources. The book turned on its head my view of philosophy. I now view the subject as one of utmost relevance to today’s ethically vacuous society, as opposed to one best confined to the dusty halls of stuffy old academia and the trashcan of history.
Gray was once an advocate of the “Market religion” of the New Right. Now, with the zealousness of an ex-smoker, he persuades others to kick the vile habit of stereotypical thinking. Try it, you just might like it.