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Meditations for the Humanist Hardcover – 16 May 2002

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc (16 May 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195151585
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195151589
  • Product Dimensions: 14.7 x 2.5 x 21.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,844,973 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"In entries recalling W.V.O. Quine's famed Quiddities, eminent University of London philosopher Grayling, also a Guardian columnist, mediates on 'Hope'; 'Betrayal'; 'Intemperance'; 'Blasphemy'; 'Capitalism'; 'Poverty'; 'Racism'; 'Nationalism' and another 40-odd abstract terms we experience in a very real way every day."

"A distinctive voice somewhere between Mark Twain and Michel Montaigne.... Give this book to the more thoughtful heads on your Christmas list--but read it yourself, first."--Psychology Today
"Most challenging, yet simultaneously most satisfying."--The Black World Today
"This is a superb little book, partly because it reminds us of what we intuitively know but perhaps overlook and partly because it stimulates us to rethink beliefs we have perhaps held to long. Highly recommended."--Library Journal
"This is a book to be dipped into and savored over time...deeply humane and subtle in its thought as well as being imbued with a rare spirit of enlightenment."--Peter D. Smith, The Financial Times
"The pieces are neatly turned, well researched and dense with quotations and aphorisms from an impressive variety of writers and traditions."--Simon Blackburn, The Sunday Times



"A distinctive voice somewhere between Mark Twain and Michel Montaigne.... Give this book to the more thoughtful heads on your Christmas list--but read it yourself, first."--Psychology Today
"Most challenging, yet simultaneously most satisfying."--The Black World Today
"This is a superb little book, partly because it reminds us of what we intuitively know but perhaps overlook and partly because it stimulates us to rethink beliefs we have perhaps held to long. Highly recommended."--Library Journal
"This is a book to be dipped into and savored over time...deeply humane and subtle in its thought as well as being imbued with a rare spirit of enlightenment."--Peter D. Smith, The Financial Times
"The pieces are neatly turned, well researched and dense with quotations and aphorisms from an impressive variety of writers and traditions."--Simon Blackburn, The Sunday Times


"A distinctive voice somewhere between Mark Twain and Michel Montaigne.... Give this book to the more thoughtful heads on your Christmas list--but read it yourself, first."--Psychology Today
"Most challenging, yet simultaneously most satisfying."--The Black World Today
"This is a superb little book, partly because it reminds us of what we intuitively know but perhaps overlook and partly because it stimulates us to rethink beliefs we have perhaps held to long. Highly recommended."--Library Journal
"This is a book to be dipped into and savored over time...deeply humane and subtle in its thought as well as being imbued with a rare spirit of enlightenment."--Peter D. Smith, The Financial Times
"The pieces are neatly turned, well researched and dense with quotations and aphorisms from an impressive variety of writers and traditions."--Simon Blackburn, The Sunday Times



"A distinctive voice somewhere between Mark Twain and Michel Montaigne.... Give this book to the more thoughtful heads on your Christmas list--but read it yourself, first."--Psychology Today


"Most challenging, yet simultaneously most satisfying."--The Black World Today


"This is a superb little book, partly because it reminds us of what we intuitively know but perhaps overlook and partly because it stimulates us to rethink beliefs we have perhaps held to long. Highly recommended."--Library Journal


"This is a book to be dipped into and savored over time...deeply humane and subtle in its thought as well as being imbued with a rare spirit of enlightenment."--Peter D. Smith, The Financial Times


"The pieces are neatly turned, well researched and dense with quotations and aphorisms from an impressive variety of writers and traditions."--Simon Blackburn, The Sunday Times


--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author


A. C. Grayling teaches philosophy at the University of London. He writes a weekly column "The Last Word" for The Guardian and is a frequent contributor to The New York Times Book Review, Financial Times, and Lingua Franca. The author of a biography of William Hazlitt and several introductions to philosophy, Mr. Grayling lives in London.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.


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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
First a WARNING : This is an American edition of Graylings "The Meaning of Things", but its exactly the same book. Don't be fooled by the different title, and buy a duplicate copy like I did.
For the record, here's my review from the English edition.
I'm sure any reader of this book will take away some favourite sections. For me, the consecutively-placed entries on Betrayal, Loyalty & Blame were exemplary juxtapositions of those complementary topics.
I would also recommend the entry on Racism.
Given the brevity of the articles, sure they can't give you an in-depth discussion on the topic, but its just deep enough to get one thinking about the topics.
I think this would be an excellent 'pocket-book' to dip into for anyone in their late teens trying to come to terms with the world.
Having read this book, I've moved directly to reading Graylings follow-up book, The Reason of Things.
Only disappointment - no Bibliography, so when Grayling frequently quotes other Authors / Philosophers, I don't know where to go to for further reading.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9c9c3900) out of 5 stars 18 reviews
47 of 47 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c9db498) out of 5 stars Humanism at its best 6 Aug. 2002
By vere ayer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
These pithy, lucid and elegant essays are about the things that really matter in life. A. C. Grayling is a philosopher who brings a remarkably wide range of reading and thought to bear on the big questions, in a way that is accessible to everyone, while being full of surprises and illumination. Not many philosophers these days are able to speak with authority yet clarity to anyone interested to read; and he does so with profound good sense strongly fortified by the great resource of literature and ideas in the Western tradition. He writes about the human condition for human beings; he has no truck with superstitions and religions, and believes that the good for humankind is to be found in the best human things - kindness, reason, culture, education and love - which is a message of hope and aspiration. There is something about A. C. Grayling's beautiful style and unflinching steadiness of purpose which makes these essays, even when he affirms anew the old wisdoms, belong to the same vintage as Montaigne and Bacon, Hazlitt (about whom he has written a wonderful biography: see elsewhere in Amazon) and Emerson, J. S. Mill and Oliver Wendell Holmes. This is a very good read, and a very educative one.
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c9db4ec) out of 5 stars Ethics without the burden of religion 3 July 2003
By Bukkene Bruse - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Meditations for the Humanist: Ethics for a Secular Age" is a collection of 61 short essays, many only 2 pages long, that are meant to prompt reflection on a range of ethical questions and other issues of the human condition. As the title suggests, the book attempts (quite successfully) to address its topics from a perspective orthogonal to that of Christianity and other religious systems. The longest essays are, however, "Christianity" and "Faith," and Grayling does discuss religious viewpoints when relevant.

Grayling writes with wit and his arguments are both persuasive and well reasoned (other than his essay, "Speciesism," which uses the underlying false argument that 0.98 is so close to 1 that (0.98)^n = 1 for any n.) But the best reason to read "Meditations for the Humanist" is that it is uplifting in its ethical and moral message - and by being so proves many of its points.
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9ce44a08) out of 5 stars A jewel of practical philosophy 14 Aug. 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This excellent collection of short, pithy, elegant essays on life's great questions is a best-seller in England, where it was first published, and it attracted rave reviews which your readers should know about (all the following appear on the British paperback edition): "Grayling writes with clarity, elegance, and the occasional aphoristic twist, conscious of standing in that long essayistic tradition that runs from Montaigne and Bacon to Emerson and Thoreau" (Sunday Telegraph); "This is a book to be dipped into and savoured over time; deeply humane and subtle in its thought as well as being imbued with a rare spirit of enlightenment" (Financial Times); "Astute and informative" (Independent on Sunday); "The essays are neatly turned, well researched, and dense with quotations from an impressive variety of sources; I admire the sheer courage of the undertaking - there is much to like" (Sunday Times);"Enlightened and enlightening" (Private Eye);"Grayling combines wide learning with wise argument to fulfil the role he assigns to these essays - to be prommpts to reflection" (Freethinker); and so on for many more. - I think this book makes a difference for the good, and everyone should read it.
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c9db744) out of 5 stars A Very Enjoyable Read - but read the caveat 22 Jan. 2004
By Keith Appleyard - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Beware : this is actually a perfect duplicate of "The Meaning of Things" - so don't be fooled or mislead into buying the same book twice, like I was.
However, here is my review for "The Meaning of Things" :
I'm sure any reader of this book will take away some favourite sections. For me, the consecutively-placed entries on Betrayal, Loyalty & Blame were exemplary juxtapositions of those complementary topics.
I would also recommend the entry on Racism.
Given the brevity of the articles, sure they can't give you an in-depth discussion on the topic, but its just deep enough to get one thinking about the topics.
I think this would be an excellent 'pocket-book' to dip into for anyone in their late teens trying to come to terms with the world.
Having read this book, I moved directly to reading Graylings follow-up book, The Reason of Things.
Only disappointment - no Bibliography, so when Grayling frequently quotes other Authors / Philosophers, I don't know where to go to for further reading.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c9db924) out of 5 stars Philosophy with all the taste and only half the calories! 28 July 2006
By Amazonbombshell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a compact, readable, and very interesting introduction to non-religious ethical thought. The author considers religion to be one of the greatest evils humankind has inflicted on itself, and so he has written brief (two to several pages each) essays on how we might begin to think about poverty, racism, sex, kindness, etc, without tripping over religion.

Many will not agree with his assertions about religion, but we live now in a world where it is not only possible but desirable (for many) to live their lives without religion. It will do us no good to step up conversion efforts; the world is changing (as always) and the only way forward here is to be able to talk about ethics and what makes a good society without religious language.

This volume does not delve particularly deeply into any one subject, nor try to explain the whys of anything at all. It is a collection of reasoned musings, intended to inspire the reader to think about his own life and decisions, to ask herself why she does what she does.

MEDITATIONS is not quite philosophy -- although that's the heading it's under -- so don't expect it. If you're a philosopher-type, you may find Grayling's essays good food for thought, or you may find you've walked this path before. On the other hand, if you hate philosophy, this one's definitely for you.
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