Why should anybody take an interest in philosophy? Is it just another detailed study like metallurgy? Or is it similar to history, literature and even religion: a study meant to do some personal good and influence our lives?
In her last published work, Mary Midgley addresses provocative questions, interrogating the various forms of our current intellectual anxieties and confusions and how we might deal with them. In doing so, she provides a robust, yet not uncritical, defence of philosophy and the life of the mind.
This defence is expertly placed in the context of contemporary debates about science, religion, and philosophy. It asks whether, in light of rampant scientific and technological developments, we still need philosophy to help us think about the big questions of meaning, knowledge, and value.
Country of Publication:
20 September 2018
Part 1. The Search for Signposts Chapter 1. Directions Chapter 2. Do Ideas Get Out Of Date? Chapter 3. What is Research? Chapter 4. Clashes of Method Chapter 5. What is Matter? Chapter 6. Quantum Queries Chapter 7. What is Progress? Chapter 8. Perspectives and Paradoxes: Rousseau And His Intellectual Explosives Chapter 9. Mill And The Different Kinds Of Freedom Chapter 10. Making Sense Of Toleration PART 2. Tempting Visions of Science Chapter 11. The Force of World-Pictures Chapter 12. The Past Does Not Die Chapter 13. Scientism; The New Sedative PART 3. Mindlessness and Machine Worship Chapter 14. The Power-Struggle Chapter 15. Missing Persons Chapter 16. Oracles PART 4. Singularities and the Cosmos Chapter 17. What Kind of Singularity? Chapter 18. Can Intelligence be Measured? Chapter 19. What is Materialism? Chapter 20. The Cult of Impersonality Chapter 21. Matter and Reality Chapter 22. The Mystique of Scientism Chapter 23. The Strange World-Picture Conclusion: One World but Many Window
Mary Midgley is Senior Lecturer Emeritus in Philosophy, Newcastle University, UK. One of the leading moral philosophers of the 20th century, Midgley has written extensively on human nature, science, ethics, animals, and the environment. Her books include Beast and Man, Heart and Mind, Animals and Why They Matter, Are You an Illusion? and Wickedness.
Reviews for What Is Philosophy for?
Engaging and accessible, this vigorous swansong exemplifies many of Midgley's virtues, and revisits many of her favourite themes ... [helps] us to see that many of our problems arise from trying to fit everything into a single explanatory template, rather than realising that one and the same reality can be understood from irreducibly different points of view. * The Tablet * Her final answer to the question What is philosophy for? is that its aim is not at all like that of the sciences. Scientists are specialists who study parts of the world, but philosophy concerns everybody. It tries to bring together aspects of life that have previously been unconnected in order to make a more coherent world-picture, which is not a private luxury but something essential for human life. * Philosophy Now *