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the reason of things

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  403 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
This follow-up to the best-selling 'The Meaning of Things' consists of a collection of Grayling's regular 'Last Word' columns in 'The Guardian'. Topics include suicide, deceit, luxury, profit, marriage, meat-eating, liberty, slavery, protest, guns and war.
Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published (first published 2001)
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(showing 1-30)
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Feb 27, 2016 Caroline rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: miscellaneous
At college I was taught that philosophy is a discipline of ideas mashed out by great minds in academic institutions. These ideas eventually percolate down into general society and become part of our stockpile of 'common sense' attitudes.

For me that was the problem with this book. The book was published in 2003. Grayling has pretty liberal ideas. I have pretty liberal ideas. And nearly everything I read in this book has already percolated down into the circles I move in. So reading most of the es
May 20, 2014 Kent rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent collection of short essays by Grayling. It is filled with many thoughts on morals, values, and experiences that don't try to get you to agree with them, but rather make you reflect and form your own thoughts. As a Humanist, I found it very cathartic and thought-provoking, though you need not be a Humanist to enjoy this book.
Mar 12, 2012 Roshio rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Probably would have enjoyed it more if i wasn't forced to read it. Found him a bit judgemental and could also be repetitive. But interesting points did come up quite a few times in his essays.
Oct 13, 2011 Jayne is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Words for a tired soul. A book you want to dip in and out of. It gets a key spot on my shelf.
Jun 03, 2012 Juta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this slowly over a month and really enjoyed it. Only a few essays were of little interest to me, basically they skipped over my head due to my lack of a classical education.

Grayling is by no means a strident voice for atheism, many essays didn't touch on either religion or the lack of. I wished a lot of them were longer, they just seemed to get started and arouse my interest when they were over. I will be on the look out for more of his writing as I like the way he makes me think, and som
Dec 08, 2012 Erickson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy, general
Quite broad, general and insightful. The writing feels as if the author is rambling nonsense at times and serious at other times, though it may be his technique in prompting the readers to conjure counterarguments or new ideas to support or disagree with whatever he writes. But precisely because of this that the honesty and straightforwardness of his writing is quite interesting and they make the book both a book for contemplation and leisure.
Mar 26, 2012 Amos rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3 1/2 stars to this little thought provoking book filled with 3-4 pages essay's on a wide range of philosophical topics. The author never claims to have all of the answers- instead posing questions and theory's to be reflected and meditated upon later. Good stuff....
Dec 16, 2013 Lynley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Although I agree in general on almost all of Grayling's points, I did find myself disagreeing on minor issues throughout.

I suppose the day I agree 100% with anyone is the day I've stopped thinking for myself.
Nicole Labry
Jul 02, 2008 Nicole Labry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ok, ok, I'm guilty of reading more than one book at a time. But this one is so easy to pick up just for a moment. It's comprised of very short (3 page average) essays about everything. I love it!
Grace C
Jun 24, 2008 Grace C rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
A marvellous collection of short essays on things that matter the most to mankind: love, morality, religion, freedom and politics among other prominent topics. Elegantly written.
Maria Stevens
Collection of short philosophical musings. Pleasantly thought-provoking.
Eric Hollister
Dec 28, 2016 Eric Hollister rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was very surprised by how much I enjoyed this book, which I found in a clearance rack (some of the best books are found there!). I think the title is a bit misleading, as in this collections of essays there are very few that relate to sex or a life without God (although in a few he does not have kind words to say about religion, but he does support his arguments quite well, I think). I really enjoyed his defense of liberal education in the second essay, and I found a majority of the essays tho ...more
I hope my rating doesn't push any of you away...I loved this book. But I loved it even more the first time I read it, when it was called The Meaning of Things. Being a follower of Grayling's, I've read many of his previous titles ( see here). I was disappointed in this text, as it feels to repeat the same ideas as many of Grayling's work. This book is a collection of essays that seem to condense ancient and recent philosopher's (including Grayling's) ideas on different aspects of life; for examp ...more
Jun 18, 2012 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a collection of essays by Grayling, a journalist, philosopher, and writer who's known for his secular humanist values. The essays cover a wide range of interesting topics, including meat, evil, luxury, games, marriage, teachers, voting, anger, guns, suicide, monsters, madness, and clones.

Grayling has a knack for achieving a skillful balance between extremes -- he writes confidently, but is not under the delusion that his opinion is the final word on anything; he is not afraid to de
Jun 10, 2013 Robert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
I won't review the actual content of the book, as far as what I thought of the validity of what the author wrote, as I feel it would take away from what I liked about this book and is really a decision left to the reader.

While the author feels that religion is not a good thing, this is not a book saying, "You should be an atheist and here's why:", but rather a book of essays about various issues with points made that I found agreeable, and those I did not, some even in the same essay.

This book
Laura Santoski
This book is formatted as a collection of very short (mostly 2-page) essays that were previously published by Grayling in a newspaper. Although the short essays might be interesting in a newspaper format, I didn't find it conducive to the book format - the essays were not long enough to adequately explore or present anything new about their topics.

Furthermore, I found Grayling's tone extremely aggravating. I am not religious, so I wasn't offended by his frequent religion-bashing, but he had an a
Dec 28, 2008 Curtis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: awesome
The latin quote in the front was enough to make this book buyable. This book is one of the best modern philosophy works I've ever read. Even if I didn't agree with his view (which was rare), I fully agreed with his reasoning and research. His views on sexuality (the repression of knowledge and creation of a sexually taboo society is what causes overpopulation and disease) are exactly what I believe and have been fighting for a long time. EVERYBODY should at least take a look at a chapter or two, ...more
Feb 07, 2010 Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book over about 6 months (and essay or two a day) and found that this collection of essays, ranging on topics from grief to philosophy to war to relationships, was a very interesting, enlightening, and thought-provoking collection of works. The author, a skillful writer and a bit of a name-dropper, even wrote an essay on the virtue and history of essays, which made me want to read more essays.

The title is terribly misleading...there are only a handful of references to a life without
One of the first philosophy titles I've ever bought and read, this is a collection of essays about every aspect of life by the noted thinker A.C. Grayling. While Grayling's orientation is that of a atheistic humanist, he is, more importantly, a compelling essayist whose ideas are presented in a conversational and highly erudite tone and style. Grayling covers everything from literary criticism to abortions, and always keeps the attention while enriching your understanding of a subject in a fairl ...more
Jul 26, 2007 Joshua rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: philosophers
While not necessarily an authoritative take on anything at all, this was still a provocative book. If you like off-the-wall essays about the human condition, emotions, psychology, civilization, literacy, ethics, sex, education, and many other topics, most of which are very quick reads, then this is a good book for you. One other item of note: I had to keep a dictionary nearby and had to look up, it seems, about a word per page. So, if anything, reading this book may increase your vocabulary and ...more
Arnoud Visser
This book is a collection of newspaper columns with the thoughts of a philosopher. Fine. But than I expect some deep insights and some food for thought. Grayling is well read and knows his history, but he poses some his political opinions without the strong reasoning I would expect from a philosopher. Only with his last story, about his own youth in Africa, with a library in the heat of the day, Grayling finally touched me.
Jul 24, 2008 Algernon rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
Grayling is a popular (and rigorous) philosopher from the UK, whose books of short, offbeat, and thoughtful essays on popular culture are popular. This was my first visit with Grayling and I found the book of uneven interest, with atheism too often worn like a chip on the shoulder. I agree with the premise that one can find solace, joy, and a moral compass without a monotheistic figure. What I have little use for is a defensive atheism that resents and too often misconstrues religion.
Ryan Schiller
Oct 08, 2014 Ryan Schiller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book to be refreshing in that it tackled more prosaic aspects of life rather than the lofty, more abstract and theoretical topics covered in a book by say Dawkins or Hitchens.

Well worth the time overall, although Grayling's style is a bit more languid than the aforementioned Dawkins, and especially Hitchens. More commentary than combat.
Jan 16, 2011 JFN rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Good ideas, but the writing was too bald and spare for my liking. These essays have a brittleness about them that doesn't hold my attention, which is a shame considering the subject matter falls squarely in my wheelhouse.
Timothy Rowe
For a philosopher, Grayling's logic gets very sloppy at times, and as others have noted he tends to be rather judgemental and closed-minded. The essays are interesting to read, but more as a prompt to work out why I disagree with him than to learn anything.
Jun 13, 2012 Liz rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Much like The Meaning of Things, these are short essays that are interesting and easygoing, but still stimulating if you're after something to ponder.
May 30, 2011 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I reviewed this book here:
Jan 13, 2013 Penny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An eye opening read, however it is a little repetitive. The idea of control and invention of myth is one of the stronger themes that I got from reading this book
Jun 07, 2011 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Provoking thoughts on a range of subjects. Shame he has sold out to the private education system and set up an elitist college...
Yuni Amir
Any negative review must come with a fair validation from the reader. I cannot offer any. Many of the essays are just too bland.
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Anthony Clifford "A. C." Grayling is a British philosopher. In 2011 he founded and became the first Master of New College of the Humanities, an independent undergraduate college in London. Until June 2011, he was Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London, where he taught from 1991. He is also a supernumerary fellow of St Anne's College, Oxford.

He is a director and contributor at Pr
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“...mastery of the emotions is fundamental to a virtuous life.” 17 likes
“The media no longer hesitate to whip up lurid anxieties in order to increase sales, in the process undermining social confidence and multiplying fears.” 8 likes
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