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The Reason of Things: Living with Philosophy Paperback – 1 Jan 2003

3.3 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix (2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0753817136
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753817131
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 195,136 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Author, journalist and philosopher AC Grayling's The Reason of Things: Living With Philosophy is a collection of short, self-contained essays about aspects of ethics, ideas and culture which, like its predecessor volume The Meaning of Things, aims to apply considerations of philosophy to concrete situations in life. The pieces are arranged under seven general categories: Moral Matters, Public Culture, Community and Society, Anger and War, Grief and Remembrance, Nature and Naturalness.

Eloquent and edifying, Grayling rightfully belongs to the dying tradition of his heroes, the great English essayists Charles Lamb and William Hazlitt. He is fully aware that the versatility and plasticity of the essay form means that they can "entertain, instruct, surprise, provoke and delight" and this seems a fair description of what one can expect in reading Grayling's pieces. Literary quality--which he describes as "either a natural or a conscious application of the power and beauty of language to effect choicer communication"--is foremost in his mind whether he is writing about meat, marriage, sex, anger, liberty, pluralism or slavery. He is a progressive liberal philosopher and a classical scholar who draws on the wisdom of ancient Rome and Greece to illuminate his subjects. His natural enemies are religion in all its forms, moralisers, and any kind of jargon-ridden academicism which he sees as the wrecker of the values and virtues of liberal education.

If one were to make a complaint about The Reason of Things it is only that consuming it in one sitting is like filling up on starters and bypassing the main course. However, the final section of the book "Reading and Thinking" includes occasional pieces that began as book reviews, an autobiographical piece "Becoming Philosophical" and a delightful piece on "The Essay" and it is here that one learns what makes Grayling tick-–if you didn't already know. These final pieces leave one wishing Grayling would write a book treating fewer topics at greater length. --Larry Brown --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Just a reminder in the middle of our campaign for WHAT IS GOOD?, AC Grayling's new hardback, that we have the paperback of his THE REASON OF THINGS whichwe are co-promoting at all the events and which will get good review coverage at the end of June. Full details of events and festivals is on the author events schedule and also under WHAT IS GOOD? With AC now a Booker Judge it is very much his year. More news soon!

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3.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I moved directly to reading this book having enjoyed reading Graylings previous book, The Meaning of Things, and I wasn't disappointed.
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'm sure any reader of this book will take away some favourite sections. For me, the entries on Religion & Evil were particularly thought-provoking (no connection intended).
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.
Only disappointment - no Bibliography, so when Grayling frequently quotes other Authors / Philosophers, I don't know where to go to for further reading; so now I'm trying to find a work by Midas Dekkers (from the entry on Decay).
Grayling doesn't profess to be a Philosopher (contrary to what someone else wrote about him on the flyleaf) - but says that (a) he teaches Philosophy and (b) he studies Philosophy. He writes very well.
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Format: Paperback
Lord Acton wrote that we should learn as much from our writing as we do from our reading. Grayling, in this set of essays, inspires us to think, to learn, and hopefully to write. In one of the later essays (actually on The Essay) he provides a brief history of this genre and lists some of the great exponents. This collection is sound evidence of Grayling's right to join his hero Hazlitt as an essayist of the first order.
Grayling is at his best when promoting the liberal cause and when writing on liberal virtues. He exposes a great deal of cant and hypocrisy in what is said and written about a wide range of issues. My own view is that he lets himself down when writing on religion and religious matters. He shows that intolerance and bigotry can mar the writing of a humanist as easily as that of a Christian or Muslim. The mark of the liberal is to judge each individual by the good or bad he or she does rather than by the label he or she wears.
In this selection, Grayling includes an account of how he came to philosophy. He was fortunate to discover Plato and then other great authors in his early teens. Grayling's books in turn could prove an ideal introduction for teenagers today into rational ways of discussing some of life's big questions. I was going to write that I hope some schools will adopt them as texts for personal and social development programmes, but perhaps that would be a sure way of having them rejected. Far better that young people discover these books themselves as an addition to football, playstations, and (as in Grayling's day) kissing in the back row of the cinema. Perhaps Amazon can slip them into recommendation lists for teenagers.
I enjoyed this second set of essays and look forward to the imminent release of collection three - The Mystery of Things.
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Format: Paperback
As a thinking obsessed late-teen, I often found myself thinking about problems that no-one my age seemed concerned with. The biggest one was how to live a life that I could be proud of in the end, when I sit in a workingmans club and all us old folk talk about nostalgia over a pint of bitter. Thats a big task, I now realise, thanks to this book. I found it in my local bookstore, when I had a lot on my mind. The sleeve said "How does one make experience valuable, and keep growing and learning in the process - and through this learning acquire a degree of understanding of oneself and the world?"
This seemed to want to answer my question. It is a great book, split into many subheadings, describing many of the worlds components and why they exist. Now in university and having travelled half the world, I now know how profound the world is. Not everything is here. If only school could have taught this, I doubt kids would be as shallow to themselves as they are, and be prepared to go out into the world and discover themselves, as Socrates believed everyone should. Its a travesty how little people think about themselves and the fabric of life, and seem happy to live in their jobs and the tv. Society seems to encourage this. My main hope with this book, is that if only a few teenagers read this book after leaving school or college, they will understand that there is more to life than work and routines. A.C. Darling has written a book, and I hope continues to, that could inspire young people to reach further than they ever thought possible. I recommend this book for my peers. You will feel a lot more open-minded when you do.
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