Customer Review

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Obvious ideas and unsound arguments, 19 Sep 2008
This review is from: Welcome to Everytown: A Journey into the English Mind (Paperback)
Philosopher goes to live in statistically average English town for 6 months to find out what 'Englishness'is.

The book has three real problems: First of all, almost all of the stuff that Baggini 'finds out' comes under the general category of The Bleeding Obvious - English people like going down the pub, their not too fussy about food, their generally a little wary of ethnic minorities. etc. You don't need to have studied philosophy to work those things out.

A Second issue is that most of the traits Baggini 'discovers' are not really definitively 'English' - Most of the traits he describes are shared by all Northern European countries and many Americans, etc, so the book to me failed to do what it says on the tin.

Thirdly, and most irritatingly of all for me, as soon as he describes a new universal English trait, he inevitably immiediately explains how he, personally, doesn't himself share it. While you and I are chowing down on baked beans and fish fingers at the local Harvester, like you do, Roberto is eating squid and rocket salad in some bijou bistro. While your drnking 10 pints of lager down the pub whlst watching an Elvis impersonator, Roberto's at home with a Bartok CD and his collection of rare sherries. Apart from making him sound like a ludicrously pretentious southern media ponce, this of course contradicts his own argument - how can you claim something is a universal trait if it doesn't apply to yourself? It's philosophically unsound, mate.
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Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 24 Jun 2011 19:04:13 BDT
Last edited by the author on 27 Dec 2013 07:15:05 GMT
JJA Kiefte says:
"how can you claim something is a universal trait if it doesn't apply to yourself? It's philosophically unsound, mate." Have you read Karl Marx at all? Like most working class people, I bet you haven't.

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Jul 2011 10:33:32 BDT
A. Miles says:
Working class? I'm a deputy headmaster at a private school, y' cheeky bastard. I'm assuming you didn't get the irony. Anyway, you've misunderstood the point. Baggio isn't referring to universal underlying economic traits in his book, a la Marx, but presumed universal pop cultural traits. He assumes that all working class people enjoy the things that he has presupposed they enjoy, and proceeds on that mistaken assumption. I'd accept that if he wrote about it properly, but the whole tone of the book, to me, is condescending.

And I have read Marx. He was wrong.

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Jul 2011 11:22:41 BDT
Last edited by the author on 23 Jul 2011 15:22:32 BDT
JJA Kiefte says:
Did I ruffle your class-anxiety feathers there, old chap?
And about Baggini: "He assumes that all working class people enjoy the things that he has presupposed they enjoy". Well, they do, don't they? It isn't any different here in Holland you know. What's more, it's bubbling up to and pervading the middle classes as well. And his condescention is even less noticable to me than your irony.

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Jul 2011 13:01:11 BDT
A. Miles says:
No point in continuing any kind of discussion if your just doing it in order to feel superior ,JJ. Bye.

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Jul 2011 15:24:55 BDT
JJA Kiefte says:
Maybe I just am, who knows........

Cheers, A.M.

In reply to an earlier post on 3 May 2012 12:07:24 BDT
Ken Elvin says:
To A. Miles
So, you are a deputy headmaster at a private school? That's good.
Perhaps you could ask one of your pupils to explain the difference between YOUR and YOU'RE. Then, when you've grasped that, you might consider asking for help regarding THEIR and THEY'RE.

In reply to an earlier post on 3 May 2012 12:24:31 BDT
JJA Kiefte says:
Sic transit gloria Angliae

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Dec 2013 00:02:03 GMT
I have to say, I was thinking the same. Such basic grammar mistakes from someone who is supposed to be a deputy head? Yikes.
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A. Miles
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Location: Al Khor, Qatar

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