_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)
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)
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.
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 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 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)
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 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.
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)
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.
We have learned to be suspicious of the claim that a serious account of knowledge must begin at the Cartesian starting point, that is, with private data of consciousness serving as a basis for outward inferences to the world, these inferences proceeding on the security of one or another kind of epistemic collateral ranging from the goodness of a deity to the bruteness of the given. But the good reasons we have for dismissing the egocentric predicament as our motive for (...) epistemology are not good reasons for dismissing a different predicament, one with which it is too often confused: namely, our finitary predicament, the fact that our powers of perception, memory and reason, even when co-operatively applied, are limited. For even if we are bound to conceive of general knowledge as the outcome of fundamental kinds of conceptual co-operation, the fact remains that our knowledge claims are underdetermined by the evidence we have for them; and that the framework, however collectively established, of what Quine calls our ‘immemorial theory’ of the world does not therefore protect particular knowledge-claims from defeasibility. (shrink)
Among the most important questions still facing human enquiry are those about the mind and its place in nature. What is mind, and what is it relation to body? How should we best understand our common sense concepts of such mental phenomena as belief, desire, intention, emotion, reason and memory? How does the grey matter of the brain give rise to our rich and vivid experiences of colour, sound, texture, taste and smell?
It a mistake to think that opponents of the death penalty are invariably sentimentalists, motivated by tenderness to those convicted of deliberate murder. They might, quite rightly, often be motivated by compassion for others branded as criminals, who in more rational, more just, or kinder dispensations would not be criminals at all – for example, soliciting prostitutes and drug addicts. They might also understand, although (a different thing) neither condone nor forgive, murder committed in the unmeditated grip of passion. Such (...) attitudes are prompted by sympathy for the difficulties that can divert a life into making a hell for itself and others – or just for the frailties of the human spirit, so numerous and sometimes so final that they seem to be its destiny. (shrink)