2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
More thoughts on the failings of contemporary secular humanism,
This review is from: The Silence of Animals: On Progress and Other Modern Myths (Hardcover)
In 'Silence of the Animals', John Gray seeks to draw the reader's attention to the philosophical shortcomings of progressive rational humanism. Gray suggests that this position has in our time become a largely unargued default secular faith among atheistic humanists, most of whom have little patience with similar optimistic teleologies when they are advanced from religious positions.
Gray is a fluent writer, and this is a very literary book; almost a tapestry of quotations and references, primarily to twentieth-century writers and more frequently to novelists and poets than to philosophers or other thinkers. The first two thirds of this short book - the page count is rather misleading in this respect - make a convincing and highly readable case. I found that the book falters in the final third, in which I expected more substantial conclusions to be drawn: Gray seems to lose his way here, and the discussion rather peters out. Other readers have suggested that the book is best read as an extension of or addendum to the earlier 'Straw Dogs', which is more substantial and deals with many of the same issues.
Gray is never less than readable, and 'Silence of the Animals' may be useful for some as a corrective to the current over-optimistic strain of progressive secular humanism. It will not suit anyone inclined to interpret pessimism as cynicism, or seeking an ethical alternative to stoicism.