Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951) was an extraordinarily original thinker, whose influence on twentieth-century thinking far outside the bounds of philosophy alone. In this engaging Introduction, A.C. Grayling makes Wittgenstein's thought accessible to the general reader by explaining the nature and impact of Wittgenstein's views. He describes both his early and later philosophy, the differences and connections between them, and gives a fresh assessment of Wittgenstein's continuing influence on contemporary thought.
_An entertaining and provocative investigation of friendship in all its variety, from ancient times to the present day_ A central bond, a cherished value, a unique relationship, a profound human need, a type of love. What is the nature of friendship, and what is its significance in our lives? How has friendship changed since the ancient Greeks began to analyze it, and how has modern technology altered its very definition? In this fascinating exploration of friendship through the ages, one of (...) the most thought-provoking philosophers of our time tracks historical ideas of friendship, gathers a diversity of friendship stories from the annals of myth and literature, and provides unexpected insights into our friends, ourselves, and the role of friendships in an ethical life. A. C. Grayling roves the rich traditions of friendship in literature, culture, art, and philosophy, bringing into his discussion familiar pairs as well as unfamiliar—Achilles and Patroclus, David and Jonathan, Coleridge and Wordsworth, Huck Finn and Jim. Grayling lays out major philosophical interpretations of friendship, then offers his own take, drawing on personal experiences and an acute awareness of vast cultural shifts that have occurred. With penetrating insight he addresses internet-based friendship, contemporary mixed gender friendships, how friendships may supersede family relationships, one’s duty within friendship, the idea of friendship to humanity, and many other topics of universal interest. (shrink)
This comprehensive new collection is designed as a complete introduction to philosophy for students and general readers. Consisting of eleven extended essays, specially commissioned for this volume from leading philosophers, the book surveys all of the major areas of philosophy and offers an accessible but sophisticated guide to the main debates. An extended introduction provides general context and explains how the different subjects are related. The first part of the book deals with the foundations of philosophical inquiry: epistemology, philosophical logic, (...) methodology, metaphysics, and the philosophy of mind. The second part offers historical chapters, two on ancient philosophy and two on modern philosophy. Finally, two chapters deal with questions of value, ethics and aesthetics. Each chapter has a full bibliography. The contributors include Bernard Williams, Roger Scruton, Martin Davies, David Wiggins, Christopher Janaway, David Papineau, and Mark Sainsbury. Designed to be as useful to the third-year student as to the beginner, this exciting new text will give each reader a unique sense of involvement in philosophy as it is practiced today. (shrink)
In his major new book A.C. Grayling examines the different ways to live a good life, as proposed from classical antiquity to the recent present. Grayling focuses on the two very different conceptions of what a good life should be: one is a broadly secular view rooted in attitudes about human nature and the human condition; the other is a broadly transcendental view which locates the source of moral value outside the human realm. In the modern world - the world (...) shaped by the rise of science in the seventeenth century - these two views have come increasingly into conflict, and the constantly accumulating tension between them is one of the greatest problems faced by the twenty-first century. Using his renowned clarity of thought and philosophical rigour, AC Grayling has produced an invaluable guide through mankind's ethical struggle to live decently. (shrink)
This is the best general book on philosophy for university students: not just an introduction, but a guide which will serve them throughout their studies. It comprises specially commissioned explanatory surveys of the main areas of philosophy, written by thirteen leading philosophers.
In this new collection A.C. Grayling adds to the variety of discussion and insight in his previous three essay collections. He returns to questions of personal ethics and the problems of the contemporary world, but also looks at the lives and ideas of great thinkers, the role of the arts in civilisation, and the need for reason everywhere Anthony Grayling illustrates in his celebrated accessible prose what each area offers to thought. In a wide-ranging array of illuminating topics, THE HEART (...) OF THINGS shows how far-reaching Grayling's masterly, and timely, commentary on the humanities is to general readers. (shrink)
In the first and shorter part of this essay I comment on Wittgenstein's general influence on the practice of philosophy since his time. In the second and much longer part I discuss aspects of his work which have had a more particular influence, chiefly on debates about meaning and mind. The aspects in question are Wittgenstein's views about rule-following and private language. This second part is more technical than the first.
As part of the roundtable “World Peace,” this essay argues that an ideal state of peace might not be attainable, but a positive form of peace could be achieved on a global scale if states and peoples made a serious investment—comparable to their investment in military expenditure—in promoting the kind of mutual cultural understanding that reduces tensions and divisions and fosters cooperation. Peacemaking usually focuses on diplomatic and military détente; the argument in this essay is that these endeavors, though obviously (...) important, are not by themselves enough for the best attainable kind of peace, for which the further and even more important aim of cultural entente is essential. This implies that peacemaking activities need to apply vastly more effort to intercultural and interpersonal exchange and education. (shrink)
The ten essays gathered together in this book treat of truth, meaning, realism, natural kind terms, and related topics. Almost all began life as invited contributions to conferences. From the Preface we learn that Grayling, in contrast to those colleagues whose perfectionism leads them to publish too little, preferred to ‘venture ideas as if they were letters to friends’. The style could hardly be called epistolary, however; a high level of generality is maintained throughout, and there is much plotting of (...) the relationships between philosophical positions . An aesthetic of tentativeness also prevails: at one point, for example, Grayling withdraws his too hasty offer of a sketch of an argument, in favour of ‘a sketch of how an argument might look in outline’ . A sketch of a sketch, perhaps?Things are not so sketchy that one cannot discern some positive claims. One of these is embodied in what …. (shrink)
_The Wiley Blackwell Handbook of Humanism_ presents an edited collection of essays that explore the nature of Humanism as an approach to life, and a philosophical analysis of the key humanist propositions from naturalism and science to morality and meaning. Represents the first book of its kind to look at Humanism not just in terms of its theoretical underpinnings, but also its consequences and its diverse manifestations Features contributions from international and emerging scholars, plus renowned figures such as Stephen Law, (...) Charles Freeman and Jeaneanne Fowler Presents Humanism as a positive alternative to theism Brings together the world’s leading Humanist academics in one reference work. (shrink)
"A distinctive voice somewhere between Mark Twain and Michel Montaigne" is how Psychology Today described A.C. Grayling. In Life, Sex, and Ideas: The Good Life Without God, readers have the pleasure of hearing this distinctive voice address some of the most serious topics in philosophy--and in our daily lives--including reflections on guns, anger, conflict, war; monsters, madness, decay; liberty, justice, utopia; suicide, loss, and remembrance. A civilized society, says Grayling, is one which never ceases having a discussion with itself about (...) what human life should best be. In this book, Grayling adds to this discussion a series of short informal essays about ethics, ideas, and culture. A recurring theme is religion, of which he writes "there is no greater social evil." He argues, for instance, that liberal education is better than religion for inculcating moral values. "Education in literature, history, and appreciation of the arts," he says, "opens the possibility for us to live more reflectively and knowledgeably, especially about the nature and variety of human experience. That in turn increases our capacity for understanding others better, so that we can treat them with respect and sympathy, however different their outlook on life." Thought provoking rather than definitive, these essays don't tell readers what to think, but only note what has been thought about how it is best to live. A person who does not think about life, the author reminds us, is like a stranger mapless in a foreign land. These brief and suggestive essays offer us the outlines of a map, with avenues of thought that are a pleasure to wander down. (shrink)
Last week the Government announced that it is to add a clause to its current education bill requiring that schools should promote marriage and "other stable relationships" as ideals, and should encourage pupils to delay engaging in sex until they are older. The proposal is a sop to those, chief among them the churches, who oppose repeal of the notorious Clause 28 which forbids "promotion of homosexuality" by public bodies.
This companion to the highly successful Philosophy: A Guide through the Subject, (recently reissued as Philosophy 1) is a lively and authoritative guide through important areas of philosophy that are typically studied in the later parts of an undergraduate course. Thirteen extended essays have been specially commissioned, each introducing a major area and giving an accessible and up-to-date account of the main debates. The first seven cover the philosophies of language, psychology, religion, and the natural and social sciences. The second (...) part of the book completes the guide through the history of philosophy begun in the first volume, covering later ancient philosophy, medieval philosophy, Kant, continental philosophy from Hegel, Frege, Russell Wittgenstein, and Indian philosophy. (shrink)
Bertrand Russell is one of the most famous and important philosophers of the twentieth century. In this account of his life and work A. C. Grayling introduces both his technical contributions to logic and philosophy, and his wide-ranging views on education, politics, war, and sexual morality.
The bestseller from our pre-eminent philosopher, A.C. Grayling 'Grief and loneliness, depression, despair and failure - those things are the common human lot at least at times in all our lives'. Yet it is philosophy which, while not providing an answer to these problems, can enable us to prepare for them, and create strategies with which to deal with them. It is only through reflecting upon the world around us, reading, thinking, questioning, enjoying, that we can inculcate understanding, tolerance and (...) importantly the courage to live our lives. It is our responsibility to live such 'considered lives' and to realise that we are authors of a narrative that can be shaped and controlled. This is the fifth in a series of essay miscellanies from our foremost philosopher A.C. Grayling, reflecting upon the form of our world and its multiplicity. The essays are grouped by theme into reflections upon life and the standards we live by, including vivid polemics and perceptive pieces on significant thinkers, contemporary rights and liberties issues. This book brilliantly articulates the philosophical debate and reflection that is needed to prepare us for life in the twenty-first century. (shrink)
'Updating Bertrand Russell for the 21st century... a cerebrally enjoyable survey, written with great clarity and touches of wit... The non-western section throws up some fascinating revelations' Sunday Times The story of philosophy is an epic tale: an exploration of the ideas, views and teachings of some of the most creative minds known to humanity. But since the long-popular classic Bertrand Russell's History of Western Philosophy, first published in 1945, there has been no comprehensive and entertaining, single-volume history of this (...) great intellectual journey. With his characteristic clarity and elegance A. C. Grayling takes the reader from the world-views and moralities before the age of the Buddha, Confucius and Socrates, through Christianity's dominance of the European mind to the Renaissance and Enlightenment, and on to Mill, Nietzsche, Sartre, and philosophy today. And, since the story of philosophy is incomplete without mention of the great philosophical traditions of India, China and the Persian-Arabic world, he gives a comparative survey of them too. Intelligible for students and eye-opening for philosophy readers, he covers epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, aesthetics, logic, the philosophy of mind, the philosophy of language, political philosophy and the history of debates in these areas of enquiry, through the ideas of the celebrated philosophers as well as less well-known influential thinkers. He also asks what we have learnt from this body of thought, and what progress is still to be made. The first authoritative and accessible single-volume history of philosophy for decades, remarkable for its range and clarity, this is a landmark work. (shrink)
When Matthew Arnold wrote Culture and Anarchy over a hundred years ago, he gave expression to the ideal of excellence in the fostering of culture, by describing it as "getting to know, on all the matters that most concern us, the best which has been thought and said in the world, and, through this knowledge, turning a stream of fresh and free thought upon our stock notions and habits." Arnold was an inspector of schools, and a champion of higher education, (...) and he believed in excellence in education as the way not only to staff the economy, important though that is, but to produce an enculturated society which will live up to the ideal in Aristotle's dictum: "we educate ourselves in order to make noble use of our leisure.". (shrink)
This week saw the beginning of an action for libel brought by one historian against another over a question of history. The right-wing historian David Irving says the Holocaust was not as bad as has been claimed; he is suing American historian Deborah Lipstadt for calling him "a dangerous spokesman for Holocaust denial." The case, and its explosive content, remind us that history matters.
Nationalism is an evil. It causes wars, its roots lie in xenophobia and racism, it is a recent phenomenon – an invention of the last few centuries – which has been of immense service to demagogues and tyrants but to no-one else. Disguised as patriotism and love of one's country, it trades on the unreason of mass psychology to make a variety of horrors seem acceptable, even honourable. For example: if someone said to you, "I am going to send your (...) son to kill the boy next door" you would hotly protest. But only let him seduce you with "Queen and Country!" "The Fatherland!" "My country right or wrong!" and you would find yourself permitting him to send all our sons to kill not just the sons of other people, but other people indiscriminately – which is what bombs and bullets do. (shrink)
When people die in an accident, suddenly and unexpectedly, with a terrible arbitrariness that seems unjust and cruel beyond description, there seem to be very few consolations for those left behind. That is how it must seem to those bereaved by the Paddington rail disaster last week. In such cases there is no preparation, as with someone long ill; no sense of the quiet inevitability of great age; there is no closure, no proper leave-taking. Too much is left unfinished and (...) unsaid. Even when soldiers go to war, the possibility of their never returning gives a significance to the farewells on the day they left, and that fact brings comfort later. What intensifies the tragedy of sudden accidental death is that none of these helps is available. (shrink)
'The unconsidered life is not worth living' - Socrates. Thinking about life, what it means and what it holds in store does not have to be a despondent experience, but rather can be enlightening and uplifting. A life truly worth living is one that is informed and considered so a degree of philosophical insight into the inevitabilities of the human condition is inherently important and such an approach will help us to deal with real personal dilemmas. This book is an (...) accessible, lively and thought-provoking series of linked commentaries, based on A. C. Grayling's 'The Last Word' column in the Guardian. Its aim is not to persuade readers to accept one particular philosophical point of view or theory, but to help us consider the wonderful range of insights which can be drawn from an immeasurably rich history of philosophical thought. Concepts covered include courage, love, betrayal, ambition, cruelty, wisdom, passion, beauty and death. This will be a wonderfully stimulating read and act as an invaluable guide as to what is truly important in living life, whether facing success, failure, justice, wrong, love, loss or any of the other profound experience life throws out. (shrink)
The most important question we can ask ourselves is: what kind of life is the best? This is the same as asking: How does one give meaning to one's life? How can one justify one's existence and make it worthwhile? 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? A civilised society is one which never ceases debating with itself aboutwhat (...) human life should best be. Some would, with justice, say that if wewant ours to be such a society we must all contribute to that discussion. This book is, with appropriate diffidence, such a contribution. It consists of a collection of Grayling's regular 'Last Word' columns in the Guardian.This time topics include Suicide, Deceit, Luxury, Profit, Marriage, Meat-eating, Liberty, Slavery, Protest, Guns and War. (shrink)