Books: World of Interiors ; A Chatty Guide to Ethics Attacks "Selfish Gene" Scientists but Gets Christianity Wrong, Finds Catherine Pepinster; Being Good by Simon Blackburn OXFORD Pounds 9.99
Pepinster, Catherine, The Independent (London, England)
There are three books on my shelves with very similar titles: How Should One Live? How Should I Live?, and, for the sake of variety, How Are We To Live? That question has engrossed mankind since Aristotle advocated that the goal of a human being is to live a certain kind of life. But what sort of life should we live today, in this age of scepticism, nihilism, multiculturalism and relative values? If Christianity is on the wane, does that mean we no longer need try to love our neighbour, or turn the other cheek?
Once questions like: Why am I here? Am the same person now as I was 15 years ago? Is God dead? Should we seek the happiness of the greatest number? were thought the province of fusty philosophers who wrote obscure journal articles which only eight fellow scholars would ever read. Not any more. The last decade has the seen the development of a very particular kind of academic - the philosopher as media tart. Not since the days of Bertrand Russell have there been so many professional thinkers strutting their intellectual stuff. When they are not on Start the Week and In Our Time on Radio Four, they are churning out their 1,000-word opinion pieces for the broadsheets. And so many of us hang on their every word, as if they were the priesthood for a secular age.
Simon Blackburn, lately appointed professor of philosophy at the university of Cambridge, has written a nifty little guide to the thorny subject of ethics. Being Good is a companion volume to Blackburn's earlier work, Think, an introduction to philosophy that proved very successful. Being Good has the same format as Think: small enough for a coat pocket, and written in a chatty style which explains complex topics very simply. For some reason, Oxford University Press has decided that these volumes need dustjackets which suggest the World of Interiors rather than the world of the great thinkers. …