Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals
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|Format:||Paperback, 246 pages, New edition Edition|
|Published In: ||United Kingdom, 01 September 2003|
A radical work of philosophy, which sets out to challenge our most cherished assumptions about what it means to be human. From Plato to Christianity, from the Enlightenment to Nietzsche and Marx, the Western tradition has been based on arrogant and erroneous beliefs about human beings and their place in the world. Philosophies such as liberalism and Marxism think of humankind as a species whose destiny is to transcend natural limits and conquer the Earth. Even in the present day, despite Darwin's discoveries, nearly all schools of thought take as their starting point the belief that humans are radically different from other animals. John Gray argues that this humanist belief in human difference is an illusion and explores how the world and human life look once humanism has been finally abandoned.
About the Author
John Gray is Professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics.
Humans think they are "free, conscious beings, when in truth they are deluded animals," writes London University economics professor Gray (Black Mass) in a series of brief and intriguing mini-essays. His themes include the similarities between hypnotism and financial markets and uncomfortable truths behind drug use and its prohibition. In a chapter called "Deception," Gray traces Humanism from Plato through Postmodernism. He critiques both science and religion: "Science can advance human knowledge, it cannot make humanity cherish truth. Like the Christians of former times, scientists are caught up in the web of power; they struggle for survival and success; their view of the world is a patchwork of conventional beliefs." At a certain point, it can be difficult to see where Gray's allegiances lie. He tears down institutions, especially consciousness, self, free will and morality, and questions our ability to solve the problems of overpopulation and overconsumption: "Only a breed of ex-humans can thrive in the world that unchecked human expansion has created." So what's left? Gray recommends a devaluation of progress, mastery, and immortality, and a return to contemplation and acceptance: "Other animals do not need a purpose in life. Can we not think of the aim of life as being simply to see?" This comforting question punctuates an otherwise profoundly disturbing meditation on humankind's real place in the world. (Oct.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
'This powerful and brilliant book is an essential guide to the new Millennium. Straw Dogs challenges all our assumptions about what it is to be human, and convincingly shows that most of them are delusions. Who are we, and why are we here? John Gray's answers will shock most of us deeply. This is the most exhilarating book I have read since Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene' - J.G. Ballard 'My book of the year was Straw Dogs. I read it once, I read it twice and took notes. I arranged to meet its author so I could publicise the book - I thought it that good... a devastating critique of liberal humanism, and all of it set out in easy-to-digest (although hard-to-swallow apercus)' - Will Self, New Statesman 'One of the most important books published this year, and will probably prove to be one of the most important this century... nobody can hope to understand the times in which we live unless they have read Straw Dogs' - Sue Corrigan, Mail on Sunday 'There is unlikely to be a more provocative or more compelling book published this year than Straw Dogs... Gray is one of the most consistently interesting and unpredictable thinkers in Britain' - Jason Cowley, Observer
|Publisher: ||Granta Books|
|Dimensions: ||20.0 x 13.0 x 1.0 centimeters (0.20 kg)|