What's It All about?: Philosophy and the Meaning of Life

Overview

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 and perhaps more than a little absurd. Is there one profound answer, an ultimate purpose behind human existence?

Julian Baggini thinks not. Rather, as Baggini argues in What's It All About, meaning can be found in a variety of ways. He succinctly breaks down six answers people ...

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Overview

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 and perhaps more than a little absurd. Is there one profound answer, an ultimate purpose behind human existence?

Julian Baggini thinks not. Rather, as Baggini argues in What's It All About, meaning can be found in a variety of ways. 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 unmysterious) questions about what gives life purpose and value, he shows that the quest for meaning can be personal, empowering, and uplifting.

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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Baggini's book is a pellucid reminder that philosophy is a wonderfully universal, democratic endeavor. As questions go, there is no simpler and no more productive query than "What's it all about?" and in the short span of a cab ride, it is the driver and not 'the world's greatest living philosopher' 1), whose intellect does the inviting, the confounding, and the demanding. For the reader of 'What's it All About?' the philosophical ride infinitely exceeds the fare."—Tim Weldon, Philosophical Practice

"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

From The Critics
Reviewer: Nicholas Greco IV, M.S., BCETS, CATSM, CCRA(College of Lake County)
Description: This is the second edition of the latest book in the Treatments That Work series, which focuses on the area of anxiety and worry. As treatments have changed for the anxiety disorders, so has this series, and this book reflects the latest in psychological interventions.
Purpose: The purpose is to help both therapists and clients address the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) as this is often an underdiagnosed and undertreated disorder. This therapist guide and the separate client workbook provide the foundation for a therapeutic alliance. The authors and contributors to this series are experts in their respective fields.
Audience: Seasoned and junior level clinicians in psychology and related mental health fields as well as graduate students will benefit the most from this book.
Features: The therapist guide presents a step-by-step guide through the program and the principles of treatment. A strong emphasis is rightly put on the need to relax and the source of worrying. A focus on time management and problem solving and facing one's fears is a must-read. A standout chapter is the discussion on psychopharmacological intervention which is unbiased, well balanced, and objective. The organization of the book is well thought out and will help the therapist maintain a systematic implementation of the program.
Assessment: This is one of the best books in this series, and one of the best discussions of treatment for generalized anxiety disorder in quite some time. Strongly recommended!
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195315790
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 1/8/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 723,767
  • Product dimensions: 7.80 (w) x 5.30 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet 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.

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Table of Contents

1. Looking for the blueprint
2. Living life forwards
3. More things in heaven and earth
4. Here to help
5. The greater good
6. As long as you're happy
7. Becoming a contender
8. Carpe diem
9. Lose your self
10. The threat of meaninglessness
11. Of which reason knows nothing

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