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)
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.
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)
It is time to put to rest the mistakes and assumptions that lie behind a phrase used by some religious people when talking of those who are plain-spoken about their disbelief in any religious claims: the phrase "fundamentalist atheist". What would a non-fundamentalist atheist be? Would he be someone who believed only somewhat that there are no supernatural entities in the universe - perhaps that there is only part of a god (a divine foot, say, or buttock)? Or that gods (...) exist only some of the time - say, Wednesdays and Saturdays? (That would not be so strange: for many unthinking quasi-theists, a god exists only on Sundays.) Or might it be that a non-fundamentalist atheist is one who does not mind that other people hold profoundly false and primitive beliefs about the universe, on the basis of which they have spent centuries mass-murdering other people who do not hold exactly the same false and primitive beliefs as themselves - and still do? (shrink)
Half-lost in the now predictable August clamour about sex differences in examination results, renewed today by publication of the GCSE results, are old familiar clues, swirling neglected like scraps of paper in the storm around our heads. In one page of the newspaper you read that girls are doing better than boys at A Level and GCSE, in another you read that young women get fewer Firsts at Oxford than young men, in a third you read how much better all (...) pupils perform when segregated into single-sex classes. Putting these observations together directs attention to a pivotal fact about education: that there are gender-specific differences in the way people get most benefit from it. (shrink)
AC Grayling is Britain’s leading popular philosopher. A professor at Birkbeck College, University of London, he has written over 20 books, ranging from academic monographs such as Truth, Meaning and Realism to more accessible works such as What is Good? and The Mystery of Things. His most recent books are Towards The Light and The Choice of Hercules.
"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.