The Art of Life: On Living, Love and Death

The Art of Life: On Living, Love and Death

The Art of Life: On Living, Love and Death

The Art of Life: On Living, Love and Death


"The Art of Life addresses the question of how to live ethically in the face of the collapsing of wider frameworks of reference. It also attempts the task of beginning to fill the gaps in our ethical vocabulary, to enable us to reaffirm the interdependence of human beings, and to reinvent a language of relationships between people." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


This book is about the ethics of living. It’s about how we might invent new ways of speaking about relationships ‘between people’. It considers friendship, identity, belonging, virtue, being alone, being alive, death, love, and the sacred.

We are living through a cultural revolution in which the relationships between the local and the global, the political and the ethical, the public and the private are being transformed. in consequence our beliefs and moral values, and our personal experiences and attitudes, are in a state of flux. the old religious authorities and political ideologies which once promised to sustain us through life have been discredited. We find ourselves alone in a society in which we are continually having to make judgements and choices affecting our life course.

The majority of us in the West may no longer fear hunger or destitution, but there are now new dreads of loneliness, failure, insecurity and disenchantment. Wealth and success are no guarantees of happiness. Depression, stress, poverty, no work and over-work, all take their toll on the quality of our lives. Politicians assiduously promote a version of modernity which defines progress in terms of instrumental competence rather than human well being. Their preference tends to be for the imposition of conformity over diversity, for control rather than innovation and creativity, and for organisational efficiency rather human sympathy: school pupils will learn more, nurses will care more efficiently, workers will work harder. Individuals are valued by their market success or productive usefulness. This reflects an ideology of modernisation which is driven by technological imperatives, not by democracy; by the market, not society.

In reaction to this version of modernity, there has been a resurgence of popular interest in spirituality, objects and spaces of the sacred, and new practices of identity and collectivity. in a culture of individualism and privacy we need a recognition of our mutual interdependence. People can live without ideology, but, as the Polish philosopher Leszek . . .

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