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"Is there still anything worth living for? Is anything worth pursuing, apart from money, love, and caring for one's own family?"
Internationally known social philosopher and ethicist Peter Singer has an answer to these and other questions in this compelling new volume. "If we can detach ourselves from our own immediate preoccupations and look at the world as a whole and our place in it, there is something absurd about the idea that people should have trouble finding something to live for."
Singer suggests that people who take an ethical approach to life often avoid the trap of meaninglessness, finding a deeper satisfaction in what they are doing than those people whose goals are narrower and more self-centered. He spells out what he means by an ethical approach to life, and shows that it can bring about significant and far-reaching changes to one's life.
Peter Singer's How Are We to Live is an interesting mix of a critique on society (granted this is the wealth-obsessed society of the 80's he is talking about) and a mandate on how to find meaning in your life. While he uses past philosophy and a number of documented studies to adequately defend all of his points and arguments, Singer falls into the pitfall of tearing apart all Western society and demanding that members of affluent societies feel guilt for being lucky enough to live a life without want.
Singer would do much better to allow his philosophy to do the talking, as he uses the whole book to make a case that even in this existentialist existence we live where the world often seems absurd and we turn to materialism to seek meaning, looking outside of yourself and to the world at large is the way to find meaning. His point is one that, while debateable, certainly has its merits. Singer's attacks on Western civilization only take away from the excellent foundation his argument has. As long as you are willing to keep an open mind and survive some of his long winded chapters, the end result is a very thought provoking book that, while not necessarily enjoyable or a 'beach read' will leave you pondering some questions worth pondering and perhaps taking a bit more of a service-oriented approach to life.