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If You're an Egalitarian, How Come You're So Rich?
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If You're an Egalitarian, How Come You're So Rich?

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  149 ratings  ·  12 reviews
This book presents G. A. Cohen's Gifford Lectures, delivered at the University of Edinburgh in 1996. Focusing on Marxism and Rawlsian liberalism, Cohen draws a connection between these thought systems and the choices that shape a person's life. In the case of Marxism, the relevant life is his own: a communist upbringing in the 1940s in Montreal, which induced a belief in a ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published September 30th 2001 by Harvard University Press (first published June 3rd 2000)
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4.08  · 
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 ·  149 ratings  ·  12 reviews

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Jun 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the most enjoyable philosophy books I've read recently (and in general). The published form of a set of lectures Cohen delivered in Scotland, the chapters walk through a series of loosely connected topics, with the overarching theme being a sort of intellectual biography of Cohen's life and work. But the book is engaging even if you didn't know or care about Cohen before jumping in because of the path his work has taken: from his upbringing as a Communist in Montreal, to his early ...more
May 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
There are few philosophy books these days that give you a full sense of the person writing them, what the author is like as a person and where he is coming from, this is one of those books. And, amazingly enough, its humanity does not detract from its philosophical value. Inspiring.
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Review of G. A. Cohen, If You are an Egalitarian, How Come You are so Rich? Harvard, 2000

This set of lectures can be difficult going when Cohen is parsing words and phrases, giving definitions, and displaying his logical rigor. But mostly it has the elegance and clarity I also appreciated in his Karl Marx’s Theory of History (KMTH). The two books often overlap. But I found the repetition worthwhile.

I skipped the two opening autobiographical chapters as I had read a version of those elsewhere. I
Sep 16, 2014 rated it liked it
One of the least impressive works I've read by this otherwise extremely impressive individual. It's title is a tad misleading, because only the final chapter (out of approximately ten) deals with that question. Cohen is a really bizarre but interesting philosopher. It's clear that he's brilliant. I mean really brilliant. And it's clear he has a cunning analytical mind that works like a devastating demolitionist. He can locate the precise premise that an entire argument is based upon, unravel it, ...more
May 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
One of the best collection of essays I've ever read.
Sharif Farrag
Feb 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Brilliant and funny. It's a shame that Cohen didn't find a way to incorporate the part of the lecture where he sang songs from musicals to illustrate various ways in which bad things can be good.
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
There are many things to talk about regarding this book as far as analysis goes. It can provide the reader with some very good material for further discusion, more so than food for thought. Since I am not an native English speaker (pardon my mistakes) and certainly not in any way entitled to write an extensive yet comprehensive analysis of the book, I will only attempt to write a brief summary of my thoughts.

I found Cohen's retrospect of (the roots of) marxist philosophy ,which consists of the b
Lucas Johnston
Jul 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This gets 5 stars not for overall brilliance, but for the brilliance of the last three chapters. Similar to Self-Ownership, Freedom and Equality, this book is not a tightly knotted coherent whole; however, the last three chapters flow together beautifully.

Cohen uses chapters 8 and 9 for a systematic destruction of Rawls’ Theory of Justice and from there propels into previously-unexplored grounds of how, given the lack of ability for a Rawlsian framework to distinguish the political from the pri
Jun 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Cohen's question is a good one, and in this book, he categorizes and analyzes potential answers. Most are, as he demonstrates, unpersuasive.

Meanwhile, readers are treated to the settings of his thinking on the problem of the rich egalitarian. There are sections on his (childhood) Marxism, his (agnostic) Judaism, and his appreciation for the teachings of Jesus Christ. Thinking examined and responded to includes that of Marx, Engels, Rawls, Ronald Dworkin, and Nagel.
Sharad Pandian
Mar 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a fantastic book which broadly has three parts.

In the first, Cohen talks about his early life growing up in a communist Jewish household and how it imprinted a deep egalitarian impulse in him. He then tries to grapple with the fact that if he had been born in some other circumstance, he would have had vastly different political leanings even if he hadn't had better epistemic grounds for those other beliefs compared to what he now has for his (this final part gets a little analytic and du
Berta Morell
Oct 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
May 05, 2007 rated it really liked it
part philosophy, part autobiography. focused on cohen's relationship with his non-religious, egalitarian upbringing and his academic attempts to justify these views.
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Gerald Allan Cohen FBA (/ˈkoʊən/; 1941–2009), known as G. A. Cohen or Jerry Cohen, was a Canadian Marxist political philosopher who held the positions of Quain Professor of Jurisprudence, University College London and Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory, All Souls College, Oxford.

Born into a communist Jewish family in Montreal, Quebec, on 14 April 1941, Cohen was educated at McGill U
“Edinburgh is glorious, partly because of its grand buildings and its monuments, its parks and hills, but also – and, for me, more so – because of the brilliantly conceived and faithfully maintained straight and curved terraces of the eighteenth-century New Town that lies to the north of Prince’s Street. On the second evening of my lecturing engagement, full of good red wine from the cellar of the Roxburgh Hotel in Charlotte Square, where I was fortunate enough to be lodged, I treated myself to an after-dinner walk through the New Town’s stately terraces, and at no other time in my life – not even in Oxford or Cambridge – have I been so enthralled by the eloquence of stone.” 0 likes
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