Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Essays and Reviews: 1959-2002

Essays and Reviews: 1959-2002

by Bernard Williams

See All Formats & Editions

ISBN-10: 0691159858

ISBN-13: 9780691159850

Pub. Date: 01/19/2014

Publisher: Princeton University Press

"This collection is the work of an exceptional thinker—an insightful philosopher who was also an acute observer of the world. Williams has a virtually unerring eye for the specious, for the concealed premise, and for overblown rhetoric, which he brings to light with a mordant wit, tinged at times with a wry sympathy for his target."—Charles Taylor,


"This collection is the work of an exceptional thinker—an insightful philosopher who was also an acute observer of the world. Williams has a virtually unerring eye for the specious, for the concealed premise, and for overblown rhetoric, which he brings to light with a mordant wit, tinged at times with a wry sympathy for his target."—Charles Taylor, McGill University

"Bernard Williams lit up philosophy; teaching us what it is, what it has been, and what it might become. In these essays, he takes a stand on the major intellectual currents of his time. With his characteristic clarity, insight, and humor, Williams is here the philosopher-witness, offering us a penetrating view of an age."—Jonathan Lear, University of Chicago

"'How clean a smell he has managed to leave behind!' George Orwell wrote of Gandhi. The same could be said of Bernard Williams, and with the same touch of wonder. Great minds—and Williams stood at the pinnacle of intellectual distinction—often veer into positions that come to seem, with the passage of time, extravagant, self-indulgent, or cruel. But Williams's acute intelligence—high-spirited, supple, and wide-ranging—was unfailingly in the service of decency, clarity, and an ethical life rooted not in abstract principles but in the tangled circumstances of the everyday. These elegant, witty essays and reviews, still astonishingly alive, are at once deeply pleasurable and deeply important."—Stephen Greenblatt, author of The Swerve

"One of the foremost twentieth-century philosophers, Bernard Williams was also an acute critic of contemporary thought and letters. This well-chosen collection of essays and reviews is packed with arguments and insights, ranging across topics as diverse as the logic of abortion and whether the idea of God has any meaning. Richly enjoyable as well as consistently illuminating, this will be a feast of ideas for all who care about the intellectual condition of the culture."—John Gray, professor emeritus, London School of Economics

"These essays represent philosophical, intellectual, and social commentary at its very best. But what will be most valued by many different kinds of reader is the perfectly clear, agreeable, plain-speaking tone of the writing, and the unpretentious wisdom with which Bernard Williams addresses such a variety of subjects."—Barry Stroud, University of California, Berkeley

Product Details

Princeton University Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.50(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.30(d)

Table of Contents

Foreword Michael Wood xi
1 Plato Today, by R.H.S. Crossman, Spectator (1959) 3
2 English Philosophy since 1900, by G. J. Warnock, Philosophy (1959) 5
3 Thought and Action, by Stuart Hampshire, Encounter (1960) 8
4 The Theological Appearance of the Church of England: An External View, Prism (1960) 17
5 The Four Loves, by C. S. Lewis, Spectator (1960) 24
6 Discourse on Method, by René Descartes, translated by Arthur Wollaston, Spectator (1960) 26
7 The Individual Reason: L'esprit laïc, BBC Radio 3 talk, Listener (1961) 28
8 What Is Existentialism? BBC World Service talk broadcast in Vietnamese (1962) 35
9 Sketch for a Theory of the Emotions, by Jean-Paul Sartre, translated by Philip Mairet, Spectator (1962) 38
10 Sense and Sensibilia, by J. L. Austin, reconstructed by G. J. Warnock; Philosophical Papers, edited by J. O. Urmson and G. J. Warnock, Oxford Magazine (1962) 40
11 The Concept of a Person, by A. J. Ayer, New Statesman (1963) 45
12 Two Faces of Science, BBC Radio 3 talk in the series Personal View, Listener (1963) 48
13 The English Moralists, by Basil Willey, New York Review of Books (1965) 52
14 Universities: Protest, Reform and Revolution, Lecture in celebration of the foundation of Birkbeck College (1968) 55
15 Has 'God' a Meaning? Question (1968) 70
16 Russell and Moore: The Analytical Heritage, by A. J. Ayer (1971) 75
17 Immanuel Kant, by Lucien Goldmann, Cambridge Review (1972) 77
18 A Theory of Justice, by John Rawls, Spectator (1972) 82
19 Beyond Freedom and Dignity, by B. F. Skinner, Observer (1972) 87
20 What Computers Can't Do: A Critique of Artificial Reason, by Hubert L. Dreyfus, New York Review of Books (1973) 90
21 Wisdom: Twelve Essays, edited by Renford Bambrough, Times Literary Supplement (1974) 101
22 The Socialist Idea, edited by Stuart Hampshire and L. Kolakowski, Observer (1975) 104
23 Anarchy, State, and Utopia, by Robert Nozick, Political Philosophy (1975) 107
24 The Ethics of Fetal Research, by Paul Ramsey, Times LiterarySupplement (1975) 115
25 The Moral View of Politics, BBC Radio 3 talk in the series Current Trends in Philosophy, Listener (1976) 119
26 The Life of Bertrand Russell, by Ronald W. Clark; The Tamarisk Tree: My Quest for Liberty and Love, by Dora Russell; My Father Bertrand Russell, by Katharine Tait; Bertrand Russell, by A. J. Ayer, New York Review of Books (1976) 125
27 Reflections on Language, by Noam Chomsky; On Noam Chomsky: Critical Essays, edited by Gilbert Harman, New York Review of Books (1976) 133
28 The Selfish Gene, by Richard Dawkins, New Scientist (1976) 140
29 The Fire and the Sun: Why Plato Banished the Artists, by Iris Murdoch, New Statesman (1977) 142
30 The Logic of Abortion, BBC Radio 3 talk, Listener (1977) 146
31 On Thinking, by Gilbert Ryle, edited by Konstantin Kolenda, London Review of Books (1979) 152
32 Rubbish Theory, by Michael Thompson, London Review of Books (1980) 157
33 Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life, by Sissela Bok, Political Quarterly (1980) 161
34 Logic and Society and Ulysses and the Sirens, by Jon Elster, London Review of Books (1980) 165
35 The Culture of Narcissism, by Christopher Lasch; Nihilism and Culture, by Johan Goudsblom, London Review of Books (1980) 169
36 Religion and Public Doctrine in England, by Maurice Cowling, London Review of Books (1981) 173
37 Nietzsche on Tragedy, by M. S. Silk and J. P. Stern; Nietzsche: A Critical Life, by Ronald Hayman; Nietzsche, vol. 1, The Will to Power as Art, by Martin Heidegger, translated by David Farrell Krell, London Review of Books (1981) 179
38 After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory, by Alasdair MacIntyre, Sunday Times (1981) 184
39 Philosophical Explanations, by Robert Nozick, New York Review of Books (1982) 187
40 The Miracle of Theism: Arguments for and against the Existence of God, by J. L. Mackie, Times Literary Supplement (1983) 197
41 Offensive Literature: Decensorship in Britain, 1960–1982, by John Sutherland, London Review of Books (1983) 200
42 Consequences of Pragmatism (Essays 1972-1980), by Richard Rorty, New York Review of Books (1983) 204
43 The Collected Papers of Bertrand Russell, vol. I, Cambridge Essays 1888-99, edited by Kenneth Blackwell and others, Observer (1984) 216
44 Reasons and Persons, by Derek Parfit, London Review of Books (1984) 218
45 Wickedness: A Philosophical Essay, by Mary Midgley, Observer (1984) 224
46 Secrets: On the Ethics of Concealment and Revelation, by Sissela Bok; The Secrets File: The Case for Freedom of Information in Britain Today, edited by Des Wilson, foreword by David Steel, London Review of Books (1984) 226
47 Choice and Consequence, by Thomas C. Schelling, Economics and Philosophy (1985) 231
48 Privacy: Studies in Social and Cultural History, by Barrington Moore, Jr., New York Review of Books (1985) 236
49 Ordinary Vices, by Judith Shklar; Immorality, by Ronald Milo, London Review of Books (1985) 241
50 The Right to Know: The Inside Story of the Belgrano Affair, by Clive Ponting; The Price of Freedom, by Judith Cook, Times Literary Supplement (1985) 246
51 Taking Sides: The Education of a Militant Mind, by Michael Harrington, New York Times Book Review (1986) 252
52 A Matter of Principle, by Ronald Dworkin (1986) 256
53 The View from Nowhere, by Thomas Nagel, London Review of Books (1986) 261
54 What Hope for the Humanities? Times Educational Supplement (1987) (edited version of the Raymond Priestley Lecture [1986]) 267
55 The Society of Mind, by Marvin Minsky, New York Review of Books (1987) 274
56 Whose Justice? Which Rationality? by Alasdair MacIntyre, London Review of Books (1989) 283
57 Intellectuals, by Paul Johnson, New York Review of Books (1989) 288
58 Contingency, Irony and Solidarity, by Richard Rorty, London Review of Books (1989) 295
59 Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity, by Charles Taylor, New York Review of Books (1990) 301
60 The Need to Be Sceptical, Times Literary Supplement (1990) 311
61 The Saturated Self: Dilemmas of Identity in Contemporary Life, by Kenneth J. Gergen, New York Times Book Review (1991) 318
62 Realism with a Human Face, by Hilary Putnam, London Review of Books (1991) 320
63 Political Liberalism, by John Rawls, London Review of Books (1993) 326
64 Inequality Reexamined, by Amartya Sen, London Review of Books (1993) 332
65 The Therapy of Desire: Theory and Practice in Hellenistic Ethics, by Martha Nussbaum, London Review of Books (1994) 339
66 Only Words, by Catharine MacKinnon, London Review of Books (1994) 345
67 The Limits of Interpretation, by Umberto Eco; Interpretation and Overinterpretation, by Umberto Eco, with Richard Rorty, Jonathan Culler, and Christine Brooke-Rose, edited by Stefan Collini; Six Walks in the Fictional Woods, by Umberto Eco; Apocalypse Postponed, by Umberto Eco, translated and edited by Robert Lumley; Misreadings, by Umberto Eco, translated by William Weaver; How to Travel with a Salmon & Other Essays, by Umberto Eco, translated by William Weaver, New York Review of Books (1995) 352
68 On Hating and Despising Philosophy, London Review of Books (1996) 363
69 The Last Word, by Thomas Nagel, New York Review of Books (1998) 371
70 Wagner and the Transcendence of Politics, New York Review of Books (2000) 388
71 Why Philosophy Needs History, London Review of Books (2002) 405
Acknowledgments 413
Acknowledgments to Copyright Holders 414
Index 415

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews