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The Age of Nothing: How We Have Sought To Live Since The Death of God Hardcover – 13 Feb 2014

4.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 624 pages
  • Publisher: W&N (13 Feb. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297859846
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297859840
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 4.2 x 23.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 516,035 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

I would not wish to have missed The Age of Nothing by Peter Watson, a brisk 565 pages on the displacement of God from Western Culture. (TOM STOPPARD TLS - BOOKS OF THE YEAR 2014)

his erudition is formidable (THEODORE DALRYMPLE THE TIMES)

In a vividly engaging conspectus of the formative ideas of the past century, The Age of Nothing shows how Nietzsche's diagnosis evoked responses in may areas of cultural life, including some surprising parts of the political spectrum. (John Gray NEW STATESMAN)

I recommend this book to anyone who needs to know what the loss of religious faith has meant to the high culture of our civilsation and what, if anything, we might do about it.... (it) covers a whole century of intellectual endeavour as lightly as it can. (ROGER SCRUTON THE INDEPENDENT)

The beauty of this book is Watson's ability to impose order on a riot of ideas. (PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY)

This book will appeal to anyone with intellectual curiosity about the human condition and the development of ideas. It will especially appeal to the non-religious reader. This isn't a book about, or even particularly in defence of atheism as a worldview, but it sets out objectively a history of non-religious thought that covers everything from science to poetry, incorporating philosophy, the rise of new age 'spiritualism' and therapy. (GREG JAMESON ENTERTAINMENT FOCUS)

There is much in this book that I did not know, and I am grateful to have learnt it. (Theodore Dalrymple THE TIMES)

his erudition is formidable (Theodore Dalymple THE TIMES)

The beauty of this book is Watson's ability to impose order on a riot of ideas. (Publisher's Weekly)

This book will appeal to anyone with intellectual curiosity about the human condition and the development of ideas. It will especially appeal to the non-religious reader. This isn't a book about, or even particularly in defence of atheism as a worldview, but it sets out objectively a history of non-religious thought that covers everything from science to poetry, incorporating philosophy, the rise of new age 'spiritualism' and therapy. (Greg Jameson Entertainment Focus)

I recommend this book to anyone who needs to know what the loss of religious faith has meant to the high culture of our civilsation and what, if anything, we might do about it.... (it) covers a whole century of intellectual endeavour as lightly as it can. (Roger Scruton THE INDEPENDENT)

Book Description

The stirring story of one of the modern world's most important intellectual achievements: atheism.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A very good read - a summary of the problems following the death of God. But grossly over-optimistic about the future.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book. It is a superb summary of 20th century thought about God and godlessness, and the implications this holds for our view of ourselves, and how our behaviour can be grounded if there is no god to ground them in.

It shows how many people, across the world, and in many different fields- art, novels, philosophy, religion, theology, architecture, came to respond to Nietzsche's bold declaration that "God is dead, and we have killed him." It is a tremendous synthesis of many themes and currents of thinking, many of which are still active today.

It explains well the consequences of the death of "grand narratives" (although this view is itself something of a grand narrative...) and how people have learned to become more proximate and limited in their thinking. There's something to be said for this- it's an Aristotelian pragmatism- some reasonably justifiable action needs to be made now- as opposed to the often rather idealised Platonic forms of abstract ideas such as Justice, Health, Morality etc. Such ideas are fascinating, but get more elusive the more you try to define them completely and competently. God can be seen as the biggest Platonic form of them all- and in the twentieth century such large ideas came to be seen as untrustworthy, and indefinable. The logical positivists in Austria went as far as to say nothing meaningful could be said about God.

This book explains a lot about our current age and how we have arrived at where we are. It's a great book for history, and reflection, and also recognition of current limits to our thoughts and ideas.

It shows clearly that where we are now is not a complete intellectual ending, but this book is a good review of progress to date.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Although the books title would seem to suggest just a trace of nihilism this would be a mistake. The whole theme of the book is more along the lines of "Life after God". Maybe, as has been said, if we do not believe in God we will believe in anything, yet this implied suggestion of superficiality in such 'non believers" is swept away by Peter Watson's fine guidance. What many have found instead of "God" is a life of genuine affirmation. Throughout I felt intimations of certain "eastern" thought-forms that further illuminated the entire text and would have supported and amplified much found there. "Chop wood, carry water" etc etc ! Irrespective of this, this is a fine book. And for Christians, yes indeed, as Meister Eckhart has said, pray God to free me from God. He shall die that we might live.

A very positive book and well worth reading slowly. And rereading.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I would give this book an A for effort but only a C for attainment. Following Shakespeare, this book should really be called The Age of Nothing Does Not Come from Nothing. This is because it underplays the significance of the legacy of Christianity for providing the first phase of the age of nihilism with an invisible armature to support creative rivalry and to set standards of excellence in a range of disciplines. This is something Fergus Kerr's (1997) book Immortal Longings explores better than Watson. Kerr argues that modern philosophers, while aiming to attack Christianity on closer inspection show an indebtedness to it, hence my suggestion that Watson's book should have an alternative title. In this respect, George Steiner's (2001) The Grammars of Creation does a better job of describing the full effect of nihilism for creative disciplines in late- and post-modernity, which Steiner thinks are an exhausted footnote to Christianity and the early phase of modernism. Steiner's analysis suggests the second, later phase of nihilism does cash out as nothing coming from nothing. Has Watson adequately pondered this problem? For example, why are artists and composers who were born after 1950 incapable of rivaling those who worked in early modernity and before?

The book is also uneven in the way it switches from a descriptive to an evaluative account of nihilism, but without providing a rationale for so doing. An example is the way the author describes but does not evaluate the validity of Charlie Parker's account of his own jazz performances as intuitive, and his advice to others to "quit thinking' when playing jazz (see p.405), as though intuition floats free from thinking.
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