Synopses & Reviews
What is the meaning of life? It is a question that has intrigued the great philosophers--and has been hilariously lampooned by Monty Python. Indeed, the whole idea strikes many of us as vaguely pompous, a little absurd. Is there one profound and mysterious meaning to life, a single ultimate purpose behind human existence?
In What's It All About?, Julian Baggini says no, there is no single meaning. Instead, Baggini argues meaning can be found in a variety of ways, in this life. He succinctly breaks down six answers people commonly suggest when considering what life is all about--helping others, serving humanity, being happy, becoming successful, enjoying each day as if it were your last, and "freeing your mind." By reducing the vague, mysterious question of meaning to a series of more specific (if thoroughly unmysterious) questions about what gives life purpose and value, he shows that the quest for meaning can be personal, empowering, and uplifting. If the meaning of life is not a mystery, if leading meaningful lives is within the power of us all, then we can look around us and see the many ways in which life can have purpose. We can see the value of happiness while accepting it is not everything. We can see the value of success, without interpreting that too narrowly. We can see the value of seizing the day as well as helping others lead meaningful lives. We can recognize the value of love, as perhaps the most powerful motivator of all.
Illustrating his argument with the thoughts of many of the great philosophers and examples drawn from everyday life, Baggini convincingly shows that the search for meaning is personal and within the power of each of us to find.
"Useful and provocative."--Wall Street Journal
"Looking for a clear guide to what contemporary philosophy has to say about the meaning of life? Baggini takes us through all the plausible answers, weaving together Kierkegaard, John Stuart Mill, Monty Python, and Funkadelic in an entertaining but always carefully reasoned discussion."--Peter Singer, author of How Are We To Live
"A work of popular philosophy that is simple, serious and devoid of ostentation. The question of the meaning of life has long been a byword for pretentious rambling. It takes some nerve to tackle it in a brisk and no-nonsense fashion." --New Statesman
"Informative, thought-provoking, and entertaining in the process.The book takes a refreshingly personal approach and offers an encounter with a vigorous mind at work, puzzling through the issues in a trenchantly argued but subtly reasoned way."--New Humanist
"It's egalitarianism of style and content is admirable. There is nothing here to put off someone who has never read a book of philosophy, yet the book is doing philosophy, not just talking about it."--Scotland on Sunday
About the Author
Julian Baggini is the founding editor of The Philosopher's Magazine. He writes regularly for publications such as the Guardian, Sunday Herald, and The Times Educational Supplement, and is a regular guest on BBC radio. He is the author of several books on philosophy, including Making Sense: Philosophy Behind the Headlines (OUP) and Atheism: A Very Short Introduction (OUP). For more information, please visit the author's website at www.julianbaggini.com.