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Examined Life: Excursions With Contemporary Thinkers

3.71  ·  Rating Details  ·  95 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
Examined Life boldly takes philosophy out of the dark corners of the academy and into the streets, reminding us that great ideas are born through profound engagement with the hustle and bustle of everyday life, not in isolation from it.

A companion to Astra Taylor’s documentary film, the book features interviews with eight iconoclastic and influential philosophers, conduc
Paperback, 240 pages
Published June 30th 2009 by The New Press (first published June 1st 2009)
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Peter Mcloughlin
This is a series of interviews with contemporary philosophers in a peripatetic style (the way philosophy should be done while walking about.) The interviews were mostly good with maybe one exception of a follower of Derrida (a postmodernist don't get me started). I really like the interview with Martha Nussbaum and I found Zizek entertaining contrarian. I enjoyed most of the philosophers talking about their studies and the meaning of their work in this back and forth manner. It brings the subjec ...more
Oct 02, 2012 Adam rated it really liked it
Shelves: lefty
This is a brilliant idea—cruising around with serious thinkers and engaging them in conversation, in settings of their choice. Cornel West in a taxi, Michael Hardt in a rowboat, Marth Nussbaum on Chicago’s lakefront… This is the transcript to the movie, which I haven’t seen, but I found the book to be a casual and satisfying way to become more familiar with the new thinkers.

The unique set-up makes for kinesthetic conversation, allowing for serendipitous stimulation and encounters, and, as Taylo
Sep 07, 2009 Maggie rated it liked it
This book is a series of interviews with "modern-day philosophers," originally developed as a documentary but the book contains the full text of the interviews. I picked it up because I normally think of philosophers as old dead guys. However, I found the diversity and richness of thought in these interviews to be really striking. I definitely did not agree with many of the things that they said, but I liked that because I think it's good to have your fundamental assumptions challenged sometimes ...more
Rambling Reader
excellent talks with influential living philosophers.
Aug 27, 2014 Jenn rated it did not like it
This was the book I eventually flung across my living room. It then hit the front door and landed with a satisfying splat sound on the tile floor, where it remained for several hours.
I grew so tired and frustrated with these "contemporary thinkers" that talk as if they had lost touch with reality.
I know that these interviews are meant to stimulate and motivate discussions of social and cultural issues, but I felt the arguments made were far fetched and lacked reason.
Except for Cornel West's inte
Jul 06, 2009 Ellery is currently reading it
i saw the movie by myself last month and really enjoyed it. i have very little knowledge of western philosophy. i never studied it in school really, and even though i respect it, it is hard for me to get into.

the movie was a nice little primer on what is philosophy and what are different philosophers saying about it.

the book version is great because, for instance, i could not follow cornel west at all, his mind works so fast and he refers to concepts that i don't know. reading him was much eas
Sep 15, 2009 Stop added it
Shelves: excerpts
Read an excerpt from Examined Life on STOP SMILING Online:

As dusk fell over Manhattan, I stopped to pick up Cornel West from his midtown hotel. He agreed to let me conduct an interview while driving him to the New School, where he was scheduled to give a lecture with the philosopher Simon Critchley. Although Examined Life was conceived as primarily pedestrian, the car ride seemed an appropriate way to bring the peripatetic concept up to date. How else would a modern-day flaneur travel? The camer
Feb 17, 2015 Ray rated it liked it
I read 2/3 of the essays in this. Some were filled with flashes of brilliance and inspiration, some were filled with laughable pretension. Martha Nussbaum bringing the social contract into contemporary times and Judith Butler talking about ability, movement, and interdependence were highlights. NOT for beginners in philosophy.
Jul 19, 2010 Michael rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I soaked this book up pretty quickly. I love the discussion of contemporary issues. On the other hand, I'm not entirely impressed with any of the philosophers in this book. Some I like as people, others I found somewhat irritating in there attitudes. One even suggested the they had become a philosopher because they didn't want to do work at a typical job. That's nice. The problem is, we all do a fair amount of philosophizing when we have peaceful moment to reflect.

Overall, I did really like the
Apr 26, 2015 Nicole rated it it was amazing
An interesting read for anyone who appreciates philosophical discourse, especially regarding the environmental impact on lived experience.
Aug 29, 2009 Frank rated it liked it
from Martha Nussbaum: "For the first part of my career, I worked on ethical issues, not issues of justice. I moved into that area when I . . . . learned about inequalities of opportunity around the world, [and:] saw how urgent the issue of global justice was and how little philosophers and economists had done to confront it well. So I decided to focus at least part of my work, from then on, on that questions."

Feb 05, 2016 Steven rated it really liked it
This is an excellent introduction to living philosophy. The reader can't help but walk away with a greater awareness of what philosophy is in today's world, and the varied voices and perspectives out there. These are passionate, intelligent, and eloquent people, and even where one doesn't agree with a particular philosopher, their views are at least understandable.
Michael Lawrie
Jan 02, 2013 Michael Lawrie rated it really liked it
Loved the DVD and the book. I could repeat what others have already written, but I won't. Instead I'll just tell you I bought copies of the book and DVD and sent it to those of my friends who enjoy being challenged and who enjoy thinking about things.
Adam Snider
Sep 13, 2011 Adam Snider rated it really liked it
Shelves: school
With fuller, more complete interviews, the book is richer and easier to follow than the film of the same name, which has been significantly edited for time. I'm not a huge fan of the film, but I quite enjoyed the bool.
May 07, 2012 Amanda rated it liked it
I'm not a huge fan of Taylor's redirectional interviewing style; I do think this book would be valuable to middle and high school teachers who want an accessible intro to philosophical topics and vocabulary.
Nov 02, 2013 Catherine rated it liked it
I liked some of these conversations better than others. High points: Anthony Kwame Appiah, Judith Butler and Sunaura Taylor, and Martha Nussbaum. Disappointed by Cornell West, Slavoj Zizek and Avital Ronel.
David Rankin
Jan 12, 2013 David Rankin rated it liked it
Watch the movie instead.

The book is a transcription of what is said by the thinkers in the movie, and without the visuals the book comes off pretty light.
Mo Evans
Dec 02, 2011 Mo Evans rated it really liked it
Would read again and highly recommend.
Jul 12, 2011 AeRi rated it liked it
I liked the film better, that's all.
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Astra Taylor is a writer and documentarian.
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