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Life, Sex and Ideas: The Good Life Without God Paperback – 16 Dec 2004

3.4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 236 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (16 Dec. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019517755X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195177558
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 1.8 x 13.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 881,953 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

"An excellent example of a fine essayist in action.... Readers will benefit from an encounter with his erudite and elegant prose. Highly recommended."--Library Journal



"An excellent example of a fine essayist in action.... Readers will benefit from an encounter with his erudite and elegant prose. Highly recommended."--Library Journal



"An excellent example of a fine essayist in action.... Readers will benefit from an encounter with his erudite and elegant prose. Highly recommended."--Library Journal


--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author


A.C. Grayling is a British literary journalist and university professor of philosophy, who contributes the weekly column "The Reason of Things" to The London Times and writes frequently for Financial Times and The New York Review of Books. He is a Reader in Philosophy at Birbeck College, University of London, and Supernumerary Fellow of St. Anne's College, Oxford. His books include Meditations for the Humanist: Ethics for a Secular Age.

Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Interesting to observe a number of negative reviews here that deny Grayling's assertion that the Christian/Catholic position on sex and material concerns is damaging.
Being raised in a Catholic family there is no question that a strict Catholic upbringing results in hangups and low self-esteem, but most especially sexual hangups. This is observable not only in myself but in my family and Catholic friends.
Atheism was the best thing that happened to me and I only regret I was not raised with such views.
Grayling gets under the covers of these issues and provokes thought, which is his intent - at least in any but the most committed religious / superstitious types, who as you can see from other reviews, fail to think and instead just leap to the defensive.
In many ways this is a case in point and proves Greylings underlying theory that religious thought is only good at reigning in the critical faculties and essentially blinkering the rational mind.
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Format: Hardcover
This isn't intended to be a platform of my own ideas about sex or the secular and religious arguments that surround it. I'm an agnostic and I'm actively trying to make up my mind about God, life and the church. I feel I probably question what little faith I have, more than bona-fide 'christians' do, simply because I refuse to base my life on values and principles due to habit and the status-quo (but then you need 'faith', of course).
From reading books on ethics and morality across quite a wide spectrum it seems clear that most ethicists tend towards attempting to base our morality in secular terms. This, I feel, is no bad thing - If I don't believe in God, can't I still be moral? Anyway, if a moral is good enough it should stand alone and not be due to some being whose morality has been clouded by centuries of reinterpretations and who may or may not exist.
Previously, I have read Grayling's 'Reason of Things' and 'Meaning of Things' - while each topic is only looked at in a little depth, it is clear that any views are staunchly anti-religion (or organised religion). It seems that the purpose of the Church is to fool believers and essentially get them to stop having sex. This seems a bit harsh and while the book reads well, it can tend to make sweeping generalisations (which aren't the philosopher's best friend). The Church has done a fair bit of good through charities and the core of christian ethics (love thy neighbour, don't kill etc) seems fairly commonsensical and in keeping with secular opinions. So, I don't agree with all of Grayling's arguments - in a sense this is the point. He fires up debate and works to get people thinking about fundamental ideas of our society. Fundamental ideas that we either take for granted or refuse to question.
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By RR Waller TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 15 Aug. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is not one of his best or most philosophical texts but it is all Grayling; like many others expressing views on that most delicate and protected of areas - religion - it is a marmite text, contingent on your own views, attitudes and religion (or not).
For the freer thinkers and the more open-minded, it will continue to refresh; for the less liberal minded, it will challenge and deny.
There is no doubt it is polemical.
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Format: Hardcover
Grayling's disdain for those who disagree with him is apparent in this book, and he is unlikely to win many opponents to his reasoning, not only because of his tone but also because his reasoning is so often lopsided or false. Grayling cites (page 50 in the essay "Sex") as an “inevitable” consequence of what he alleges is Platonic dualism in Christianity (he wrongly alleges that Christians repudiate the body as bad) the “extremes represented by Origen castrating himself to escape his sexual longings.” Grayling’s characterization of castration as an extreme is welcome because accurate and helpfully reproachful, but he fails to disclose why he thinks the act “inevitable.” Has Grayling confused Christians with those Hale-Bopp comet following castrati suicides? And can Grayling name another Christian self-castrato? (Eusebius’ description in “Ecclesiastical History,” Book II, 6,8,1-3 of Origen’s “rash act” is consistent with but not beyond doubt self-castration.) Origen, by the way, is not a canonical saint in any major (or perhaps any) Christian group despite his profound legacy to Christian thought, his sanctity and his drawing many into the faith. His "rash act" has been nothing but an impediment to whatever chance he might have of attaining such sainthood.
Given my druthers between the thinking of A.C. Grayling and P.J. O'Rourke, both atheists, regarding sex, I would choose O'Rourke. In his "Give War A Chance" (1992), he remarked "the sexual revolution is over and the microbes won." I don't quite agree, but he is not too far off.
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Format: Hardcover
In a few regards, Oxford University Press has done a fine job in presenting this collection of essays. Yet while the jacket bears Man Ray's amusing "Le Violin d'Ingres," it is the prelude to neither humorous nor symphonic thought but to fiddle-faddle. While the layout and type work are natty, many of Professor Grayling's depictions of others, especially people of traditional faiths, are so shabby to be caricatures.
This is perhaps barest in the book's longest essay "Sex" (upon which I will focus) in which he writes that Christianity was early possessed by Plato's view "that spirit is good and must be cultivated, whereas body is bad and must be disciplined" (p. 50). While Plato exerted significant influence on Christianity, Christianity has from its beginning viewed the body as good. More so than in Protestantism, this is conspicuous in Catholicism and Orthodoxy, both of which share belief in Christ's Incarnation, Resurrection and Ascension, the Assumption (body and soul) of the Virgin Mary, the Resurrection of the Body, the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist under the appearance of bread and wine and sacramental theology according to which matter can communicate grace. Professor Grayling knows not whereof he whines and may have mistaken Christians for Manichees or Docetists, though Christian heavyweights (St. Augustine (354-430) and St. Thomas Aquinas (c.1225-1274) fall into mind) left quite a literary or homiletic corpus documenting the incompatibility of Manichaeism or Docetism with the Christian conception of the goodness of the body. Platonic dualism, ironically, is not among orthodox Christians but among those who speak of "protected sex," "safe sex" or the increasingly popular "safer sex.
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