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The Philosopher and the Wolf: Lessons from the Wild on Love, Death, and Happiness

4.13  ·  Rating Details ·  1,613 Ratings  ·  186 Reviews
The charming and poignant story of the relationship between a philosophy professor and his pet wolf Mark Rowlands was a young philosophy professor, rootless and searching for life’s greater meaning. Shortly after arriving at the University of Alabama, he noticed a classified ad in the local paper advertising wolf clubs for sale, and decided he had to investigate, if only o ...more
ebook, 246 pages
Published June 14th 2011 by Pegasus Books (first published 2008)
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Apr 22, 2009 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is not a conventionally nice book -- the author can be a crank carrying around a hypertrophied male ego like a sack of bad gas -- nor is it a sentimental book. Forget Marley & Me. It is a confession and a provocation, the story of a rootless young man becoming a better, more responsible, man by loving a wolf. Yes, it's well-written (Rowlands shares a penchant for employing clear, plain prose with fellow philosopher Colin McGinn) and it has a bunch of Big Philosophical Ideas in it, but t ...more
Jennifer Clement
The Philosopher and the Wolf is an astonishing book, both heartbreaking and heart lifting. Mark Rowlands’ experience of living with a wolf leads him to examine what it is to be human. In general biologists write books of this kind, but as Rowlands is a philosopher, his perspective is profoundly original. The book is a memoir of the author’s day-to-day life with a wolf that leads to a meditation on subjects such as human evil and the pursuit of happiness. Above all, this book is a love story that ...more

Brenin e Mark

Um lobo fala com o corpo; e o que o corpo de Brenin dizia era óbvio: fui apanhado! Seria talvez de esperar que ele adoptasse uma atitude mais despreocupada e até indiferente em relação ao assunto do furto. Não sei como é que o teu prato ficou assim. Não fui eu. Estava assim quando aqui cheguei. Ou até: já tinhas comido tudo antes de saíres daqui., ó velho caquético. Mas os lobos não fazem essas coisas. Eles falam. E o que é melhor - nós conseguimos compreendê-los. O que eles não sab
'The Philosopher and the Wolf: Lessons from the Wild on Love, Death and Happiness' was kindly provided to me by Netgalley for Open Road Media.

This book is part memoir, part story of the 11 years spent with his wolf named Brenin and the impression that he made on his life, and part philosophical interpretation of what it means to be human. I can’t claim to be a true lover of Philosophy; however, this book and the author’s writing style kept me engaged. The novels main emphasis tends to focus on t
Feb 10, 2013 Williwaw rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
I have perused some other reviews of this book here on Goodreads. Those who didn't like it seemed, above all, to be offended by the author's cynical and sometimes brutal depictions of human motivations.

So if you want to read a book that praises and flatters humanity and your sense of yourself, then stay away!

If you don't mind taking a hard look at yourself and admitting that humans are by far the most brutal and evil species on Earth, then you might appreciate this book.

Here's a characteristic p
Sep 13, 2013 Rust rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
E' la nostra sfida che ci redime

Molto bello. Il mio tipo di libro. Mi aspettavo un romanzo, in realtà è più una raccolta di brevi saggi filosofici, di tono divulgativo, che non si perdono in formalismo ma vanno subito al punto per trasmettere qualcosa. Tutti partono dalla storia-romanzo di sottofondo, quella dell’autore e del suo lupo. Il fascino dell’animale si sovrappone così a profonde ed intelligenti riflessioni sulla civiltà ed il contratto sociale, sull’evoluzione dell’uomo e su cosa ci co
Jun 28, 2010 Hazel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I wasn't sure about this until I got to the second page.

This is also a book about what it means to be human - not as a biological entity but as a creature that can do things no other creatures can. In the stories we tell about ourselves, our uniqueness is a common refrain. According to some, this lies in our ability to create civilization, and so protect ourselves from nature, red in tooth and claw. Others point to the fact that we are the only creatures that can understand the difference betwee
Dec 29, 2014 Paola rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sono entusiasta di questo libro, quindi niente di oggettivo in questa recensione, sappiatelo.
Fratello Rowlands, quante volte ho scrollato il capoccione in segno di approvazione, leggendoti, abbiamo viaggiato assieme per un pezzo di strada, anche se io non avevo un lupo che insegnasse, ma cani si, sotto i 35 chili e sempre rigorosamente bastardi figli di canili o salvati da morte certa come la levriera che abbiamo ora.
Anche il vegetarianesimo é arrivato a poco a poco, da loro, avendomi fatto co
Jason Mills
May 03, 2010 Jason Mills rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those interested in animals, philosophy and 'solitariness'
Recommended to Jason by: Someone on
This is a book with three entwined strands. There is the story of Brenin, the author's wolf: his life and behaviour, and his impact on Rowlands' own life. There are philosophical discussions that spin off from anecdotes about the wolf. And, implicit in both, there is the journey, the pathology, of the misanthropic, solitary man who is telling us all this.

The writing is thoroughly engaging: often humorous, always (so far as one can judge) honest and diligent. Rowlands, philosopher that he is, exa
Jan 12, 2015 Miranda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was difficult to get through. As an animal behavior specialist and an anthrozoologist I found Mr. Rowlands' attempts as defining and bridging the gap between human and wolf riddled with problems. While he clearly had a memorable and life-changing relationship with his wolf, Brenin, he often describes his behavior toward Brenin in terms that are nothing short of indifferent to Brenin's perspectives and filled with the human need for power and control. While I am certainly envious of Row ...more
Dec 21, 2016 tooliepanna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Człowiek czasem ma wiele szczęścia. Moje polega na tym, ze mam genialna siostrę która poleciła mi te książkę.
Książka została napisana chyba dla mnie na dokładnie tym etapie życia, na którym jestem - patrz -> "nie wiem jaki jest sens życia i chętnie przeczytam coś, co mi to sensownie wyjaśni".
Jest to książka głęboko filozoficzna, dopiero potem biograficzna. Cechy wilka porównywane sa do ludzkich, co daje piękną podstawę do rozważań na temat moralności, szczęścia a nawet pojmowania celu życia
Roberto Ramos
Feb 12, 2017 Roberto Ramos rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Siendo directo y conciso, este es uno de los libros más importantes que he leído. Me sacudió de una manera que todavía no entiendo y que me tardare en entender.

De entrada no es un libro para todos, el autor hace un desdén constante sobre nuestra naturaleza de "simio" y a mucha gente no le gusta que hablen mal de su propia naturaleza, pero creo y siempre he creído que la confrontación es la que saca algo de nosotros, que con el tiempo es lo que vale la pena. Es un libro que te confronta, que te
Aug 12, 2011 Gaylene rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I was first attracted to this book by the name of the book and the picture on the front of the book. The author suggests that the picture on the front might be an effort to mimic a classic painting entitled "Lone Wolf". This painting is of a wolf on a mountain looking down at the light shining in a domain below. The longing of the outsider to come inside and visit. Would this outsider ever stay? Would the wolf be able to fit into the life of a philosopher?

The author of this book describes himsel
Aban (Aby)
Apr 28, 2010 Aban (Aby) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mark Rowlands, a professor of philosophy, writes both about the eleven or twelve years of his life, from the time he brought home a wolf cub whom he named Brenin until the latter's death. (During that time he also acquired two more dogs: Anna and Tess.)They lived in the USA, Great Britain, and France. Rowlands adored the animals and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about their lives.

Rowlands also weaves his philosophical views into the story. He writes about the nature of intelligence, about what d
Beatriz Canas Mendes
Concordo com o que dizem muitas das críticas a este livro: não é um livro de filosofia convencional. Na maior parte do tempo, nem sequer temos muita dificuldade em seguir a narrativa ou a argumentação - é uma leitura razoavelmente leve. Consiste principalmente num relato de alguns episódios que Mark Rowlands viveu com o seu lobo Brenin, intercalado com algumas reflexões de ordem social, biológica e (obviamente) filosófica. A questão central é: como definir humano, como distinguir o Homem em rela ...more
Ata A
I enjoyed the memoir and the critique of the apes. The chapter on deception was interesting. Brenin was an amazing creature, and there were times that Rowlands had me wanting to be just like a wolf. Rowlands' definition on what "ape" really is:

"The 'ape' is the tendency to understand the world in instrumental terms: the value of everything is a function of what it can do for the ape. The ape is the tendency to see life as a process of gauging probabilities and computing possibilities, and using
When I was a freshman at Brown, I majored in philosophy. When I was a sophomore, I escaped from school to the Maine wilderness. Philosophy was just so much yammering and wild speculation. I never wanted to read it again. When I moved back to civilization and returned to college, I made sure I selected courses that relied on data, not twisting words onto words with no proof. I ended up getting a doctorate in Linguistics--which actually had its origins in philosophy, but was data driven at Brown.

Mar 02, 2015 Louise rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Musings on what it means to be human and what it means to be a wolf, thoughts on the meaning of life, happiness and death, all presented in the context of the author's relationship with his wolf. Quite a tearjerker.
Libros Prohibidos
Nov 26, 2014 Libros Prohibidos rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Muy recomendable (y lacrimógeno) ensayo autobiográfico. Reseña completa:
Feb 24, 2013 Ellen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorieten
Het overkomt me niet vaak of eigenlijk: tot nu toe is het me nog nooit overkomen dat een filosofieboek me zo raakt. Op pagina vier was het al raak: Mark Rowlands, de schrijver, maar vooral ook eigenaar van Brenin, de wolf, is dan op weg naar de dierenarts om Brenin te laten inslapen. Brenin ligt achterin de Jeep. Brenin hoort niet te liggen, Brenin staat altijd in de auto en Mark hoopt, tegen beter weten in, dat Brenin nog een keer gaat staan. Dan kan hij omkeren en naar huis gaan en is dit niet ...more
Ryan Murdock
Mar 01, 2014 Ryan Murdock rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Philosopher and the Wolf is a profound and original book. But I never would have found it if it hadn’t been recommended to me.

Even after I ordered it, it sat on my shelf for over a year before I finally picked it up.

I can understand why the back cover copy didn’t grab my attention, because this is a rather difficult book to describe. It’s not quite an autobiography, because the author is often overshadowed by the wolf, and neither of them is the main character. It’s not quite philosophy — a
Rowlands lays out early on the difficulties of writing the book, the time it took and a strangeness of memory that was involved. Also, that he isn't sure how the writing came together, how issues, metaphors and ideas folded into each other across chapters, how "Life rarely allows itself to be dealt with and put to bed." It's actually Rowlands' writing exercise and attempt to think about himself that I find the more interesting aspect of the book.

He is a successful professional philosopher, forme
Sep 06, 2011 Skostal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the biggest regrets of my college years was not devoting myself fully to a logic/philosophy class I ultimately chose to audit because I was taking 21+ hours and had freaked out after doing poorly on the first exam. (Undue focus on GPA, even though I had no grad school goals. DUH. No logic.) I had, thus, for decades, believed myself incapable of tackling the subject. Enter, stage left, The Philosopher and the Wolf. This book comes via recommendation from the kid running the wine store in A ...more
Jul 19, 2011 Nicole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Philosopher and the Wolf: Lessons From the Wild On Love, Death and Happiness by Mark Rowlands will open your mind and break your heart. Losing a pet is always heart-wrenching, but losing this wolf, Brenin, will move you.

Rowlands writes of his relationship with Brenin, the wolf that he adopted as a pup and raised until his passing. The relationship the two had was truly one-of-a-kind and once-in-a-lifetime. Rowlands tells of what he learned from Brenin and how he was pushed to be the best he
Jun 10, 2011 Franz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
Easily the best philosophy book I've read in a long time. Accessible to the general reader without compromising rigorous thinking. Partly a memoir of Rowlands' experience living with a wolf adopted as a cub in Alabama and then took with him to live in Ireland and France, Rowlands also reflects on what he learned from Brenin on, for example, the differences and similarities between wolves and primates like humans. A serious look at how a man can co-exist with a wolf that allows both to thrive. Ro ...more
Apr 25, 2009 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This realization sometimes strikes me as a faintly surreal discovery. It is not me I remember striding the touchline in Tuscaloosa; it is the wolf that walked beside me. It is not me I remember at the party, it is the wolf that sat beside me and the pretty girls that approached me because of this. It is not me I remember running through the streets of Tuscaloosa or the country lanes of Kinsale; it is the wolves who matched their stride to mine. My memory of myself is always displaced. That I am ...more
Victor Hugo
Apr 19, 2016 Victor Hugo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Foi com muito agrado e alegria que comecei a leitura deste livro que há algum tempo desejava ler. Foi também com atenção e prazer que o li.
Nesta história real, de um filósofo que a certa altura da sua vida começa a conviver com uma cria de lobo, fui levado a visitar não só as memórias dos tempos vividos por eles, com todas as aventuras e peripécias, mas também fui levado por entre reflexões e argumentos filosóficos, éticos, científicos e humanistas.
Por vezes achava estranho algumas comparações q
Oct 14, 2012 Leendert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i got more out of this than i bargained for. based on the except i read i thought there'd be more anecdotes about the magnificence of the wolf. it wasn't so, and for the better perhaps.

there's some high APV misanthropic philosophy here, and ultimately about happiness and why it's not a feeling, why it can't be, and how the meaning of life may be found in certain moments spread out through our lives, and those moments may not even be happy moments, about how wolves live more in the moment than we
Dean Ryder
Apr 26, 2009 Dean Ryder rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 30, 2011 Jenny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book. Rowlands, an academic philosopher, buys a 95% wolf he calls Brenin and most of the book charts their relationship but also uses this to compare species and to decide from this what it is to be human. On the whole, we humans don't come out of it too well - apes who watch each other constantly, waiting for the chance to get some advantage from others whether sexual or otherwise. Although this seems a misanthropic view of humanity (especially for a Quaker to somewhat agree ...more
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Mark Rowlands was born in Newport, Wales and began his undergraduate degree at Manchester University in engineering before changing to philosophy. He took his doctorate in philosophy from Oxford University and has held various academic positions in philosophy in universities in Britain, Ireland and the US.

His best known work is the book The Philosopher and the Wolf about a decade of his life he sp
More about Mark Rowlands...

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“In the end, it is our defiance that redeems us. If wolves had a religion – if there was a religion of the wolf – that it is what it would tell us.” 56 likes
“What is best about our lives -the moments when we are, as we would put it, at our happiest- is both pleasant and deeply unpleasant. Happiness is not a feeling; it is a way of being. If we focus on the feelings, we will miss the point.” 18 likes
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