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Meditations for the Humanist: Ethics for a Secular Age Paperback – December 18, 2003
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From Library Journal
Grayling teaches philosophy at the University of London, writes a weekly column for the Guardian, and frequently contributes to the New York Times Book Review, among other publications. Here he has written a primer designed to stimulate thinking on various aspects of "the problems and possibilities of being human," as he observes on the book jacket. Ranging in length from two to ten pages, the 60-plus essays are divided almost evenly into three categories: "Virtues and Attributes," "Foes and Fallacies," and "Amenities and Goods." They are balanced, intelligently written, at times caustic, and always (as intended) thought-provoking. Consider, for example, what Grayling has to say regarding love: "Despite appearances, the kinds of love that are most significant to us are not those that fill novels and cinema screens. They are instead those we have for family, friends, and comrades; for these are the loves that endure through the greater part of our lives, and give us our sense of self-worth, our stability, and the framework for our other relationships." This is a superb little book, partly because it reminds us of what we intuitively know but perhaps overlook and partly because it stimulates us to rethink beliefs we have perhaps held too long. Highly recommended. Terry Skeats, Bishop's Univ. Lib., Lennoxville, Quebec
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"A distinctive voice somewhere between Mark Twain and Michel Montaigne.... Give this book to the more thoughtful heads on your Christmas list--but read it yourself, first."--Psychology Today
"Most challenging, yet simultaneously most satisfying."--The Black World Today
"This is a superb little book, partly because it reminds us of what we intuitively know but perhaps overlook and partly because it stimulates us to rethink beliefs we have perhaps held to long. Highly recommended."--Library Journal
"This is a book to be dipped into and savored over time...deeply humane and subtle in its thought as well as being imbued with a rare spirit of enlightenment."--Peter D. Smith, The Financial Times
"The pieces are neatly turned, well researched and dense with quotations and aphorisms from an impressive variety of writers and traditions."--Simon Blackburn, The Sunday Times
Top Customer Reviews
Grayling writes with wit and his arguments are both persuasive and well reasoned (other than his essay, "Speciesism," which uses the underlying false argument that 0.98 is so close to 1 that (0.98)^n = 1 for any n.) But the best reason to read "Meditations for the Humanist" is that it is uplifting in its ethical and moral message - and by being so proves many of its points.
However, here is my review for "The Meaning of Things" :
I'm sure any reader of this book will take away some favourite sections. For me, the consecutively-placed entries on Betrayal, Loyalty & Blame were exemplary juxtapositions of those complementary topics.
I would also recommend the entry on Racism.
Given the brevity of the articles, sure they can't give you an in-depth discussion on the topic, but its just deep enough to get one thinking about the topics.
I think this would be an excellent 'pocket-book' to dip into for anyone in their late teens trying to come to terms with the world.
Having read this book, I moved directly to reading Graylings follow-up book, The Reason of Things.
Only disappointment - no Bibliography, so when Grayling frequently quotes other Authors / Philosophers, I don't know where to go to for further reading.
Many will not agree with his assertions about religion, but we live now in a world where it is not only possible but desirable (for many) to live their lives without religion. It will do us no good to step up conversion efforts; the world is changing (as always) and the only way forward here is to be able to talk about ethics and what makes a good society without religious language.
This volume does not delve particularly deeply into any one subject, nor try to explain the whys of anything at all. It is a collection of reasoned musings, intended to inspire the reader to think about his own life and decisions, to ask herself why she does what she does.
MEDITATIONS is not quite philosophy -- although that's the heading it's under -- so don't expect it. If you're a philosopher-type, you may find Grayling's essays good food for thought, or you may find you've walked this path before. On the other hand, if you hate philosophy, this one's definitely for you.