Thinking of answers – A.C. Grayling

March 5, 2011 at 09:23 | Posted in books | Leave a comment
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You may have noticed that this blog has been rather light on the ‘books’ element promised in the title recently. This is in part because I have been reading much less since Baby Chillikebab came along (unless you include such erudite titles as ‘Ducky says Quack!’ and ‘ABC Zoo’), and in part beause what books I have been reading have not really been worth reviewing.

However, I did get this book from one of my favourite authors for Christmas, and have finally got around to reading it.

This is a selection of essays based on the themes and questions AC Grayling tackles in his numerous newspaper columns. There is a real mixture of things in here, from religion to food, from Shakespeare to soap opera. The point though is to provoke thoughts; to provide a framework for considering the world and to perhaps see things in a different light.

It’s an easy read, but it does a great job of showing why philosophy (and the related discipline of critical thinking) is so relevant to the way we live our lives – and how our lives are enriched and our horizons stretched merely by taking some time to actually think about stuff. As Socrates said, the unexamined life is not worth living, and this book helps prompt perhaps a little more of that examination.

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Liberty in the Age of Terror: A C Grayling

September 4, 2010 at 10:49 | Posted in books | Leave a comment
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In this important book. A C Grayling takes a long hard look at how, in recent years, we have allowed our civil liberties to be eroded in the pursuit of the ‘war on terror’. He examines the restrictions in freedoms we have experienced in the panic to fight an unknown enemy, and the ironic outcome that has meant that the very freedoms we believe are under threat from those enemies are being dismantled from within.

He also charts the misuses of such ‘terror legislation’; demonstrating that much of it is in any case poor legislation – too broad and to long-lived. This has led to inevitable abuses where new ’emergency’ powers have been used for outside their initial scope, in areas far removed from combating terrorism.

He also takes a look at what it is that makes our society what it is; the importance of civil liberties and free speech to the very fabric of how our society operates. He extends this argument into controversial areas such as the wearing of the burqas, multiculturalism and faith schools in a way that is both challenging and thought-provoking. He cogently argues that a society built on enlightenment values needs to have a zero-tolerance approach to intolerance in any form, even where that may challenge other cherished beliefs around individual freedom and respect for difference.

This is an important book that deserves to be widely read if we are to preserve the values that we cherish in our society – freedom, liberty and tolerance.

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