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Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans & Other Animals: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals Hardcover – 29 Aug 2002

3.4 out of 5 stars 113 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books (29 Aug. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1862075123
  • ISBN-13: 978-1862075122
  • Product Dimensions: 22.3 x 14.2 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (113 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 382,200 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Amazon Review

John Gray's Straw Dogs attempts to present a world view in which humans are not central and which argues against the humanist belief in progress. The heart of the book is summed up in the idea that modern humanists have still not come to terms with Darwin, still not come to terms with the idea that humans are like other animals. Christians and modern humanists in the Platonic-Cartesian tradition typically think of humans enjoying a special relationship to God, or a special status in nature in a way that other animals do not. Even the great debunkers--philosophers such as Nietzsche, Wittgenstein and Heidegger--end up making human beings the centre of things or the end point of some world-historical process. By contrast, in a Taoist, Shinto, Hindu or animist culture Darwin's discovery would have been easily accommodated since these faiths see humans and other animals as kin.

In short, for Gray, humanism is nothing more than "a secular religion thrown together from decaying scraps of Christian myth". Gray champions James Lovelock's view of the Earth as a self-regulating system whose behaviour resembles, in some ways, that of an organism. The Gaia hypothesis is the backdrop to Gray's apparently relentless pessimism about the fate of humankind. What it teaches us is that this self-regulating system has no need of humanity, does not exist for the sake of humanity, and will regulate itself in ignorance of humanity's fate.

Straw Dogs can be usefully compared with Mary Midgely's excellent Science and Poetry since both take off from the view of man as animal while sharing similar views about the cultural role of philosophy. Both encourage us to overcome the Platonic-Cartesian-Kantian philosophical tradition while stressing the importance of Gaia in emphasising our essential continuity with the physical and natural world. For Gray, humans "think they are free, conscious beings, when in truth they are deluded animals". Straw Dogs could have been made to stretch for 500 large pages. Instead you get 200 small pages of gold; simple, concise, riveting.--Larry Brown

Review

'A book of hallucinatory power that leaves conventional wisdom in ruins...unquestionably, one of the great works of our time' -- Bryan Appleyard

'An essential guide to the new Millennium...the most exhilarating book I have read since Richard Dawkins 'The Selfish Gene'' -- J G Ballard

'Gray is one of the most consistently interesting and unpredictable thinkers in Britain' -- Jason Cowley, Observer

'Straw Dogs challenges our assumptions about what it is to be human...convincingly shows that most of them are delusions' -- J G Ballard

'Straw Dogs contains so many arresting points and thought provoking ideas...it’s hard to imagine any reader not being moved’ -- Focus

'a...work of philosophy devoid of jargon, wholly accessible, and profoundly relevant to the rapidly evolving world we live in’ -- Will Self, Independent

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