The Ego Trick

Granta Books
6
Free sample

Are you still the person who lived fifteen, ten or five years ago? Fifteen, ten or five minutes ago? Can you plan for your retirement if the you of thirty years hence is in some sense a different person? What and who is the real you? Does it remain constant over time and place, or is it something much more fragmented and fluid? Is it known to you, or are you as much a mystery to yourself as others are to you?With his usual wit, infectious curiosity and bracing scepticism, Julian Baggini sets out to answer these fundamental and unsettling questions. His fascinating quest draws on the history of philosophy, but also anthropology, sociology, psychology and neurology; he talks to theologians, priests, allegedly reincarnated Lamas, and delves into real-life cases of lost memory, personality disorders and personal transformation; and, candidly and engagingly, he describes his own experiences. After reading The Ego Trick, you will never see yourself in the same way again.
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About the author

JULIAN BAGGINI (www.julianbaggini.com) is Founding Editor of The Philosophers' Magazine. His books include Welcome to Everytown: A Journey into the English Mind, What's It All About? - Philosophy and the Meaning of Life, the bestselling The Pig That Wants to be Eaten, and Do They Think You're Stupid?, all published by Granta Books.
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4.7
6 total
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Additional Information

Publisher
Granta Books
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Published on
Mar 3, 2011
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Pages
304
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ISBN
9781847083777
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Language
English
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Genres
Philosophy / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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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, a little absurd. Is there one profound and mysterious meaning to life, a single ultimate purpose behind human existence? In What's It All About?, Julian Baggini says no, there is no single meaning. Instead, Baggini argues meaning can be found in a variety of ways, in this life. 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 thoroughly unmysterious) questions about what gives life purpose and value, he shows that the quest for meaning can be personal, empowering, and uplifting. If the meaning of life is not a mystery, if leading meaningful lives is within the power of us all, then we can look around us and see the many ways in which life can have purpose. We can see the value of happiness while accepting it is not everything. We can see the value of success, without interpreting that too narrowly. We can see the value of seizing the day as well as helping others lead meaningful lives. We can recognize the value of love, as perhaps the most powerful motivator of all. 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.
It’s a question that has puzzled philosophers and theologians for centuries and is at the heart of numerous political, social, and personal concerns: Do we have free will? In this cogent and compelling book, Julian Baggini explores the concept of free will from every angle, blending philosophy, sociology, and cognitive science to find rich new insights on the intractable questions that have plagued us. Are we products of our culture, or free agents within it? Are our neural pathways fixed early on by a mixture of nature and nurture, or is the possibility of comprehensive, intentional psychological change always open to us? And what, exactly, are we talking about when we talk about “freedom” anyway?

Freedom Regained brings the issues raised by the possibilities—and denials—of free will to thought-provoking life, drawing on scientific research and fascinating encounters with everyone from artists to prisoners to dissidents. He looks at what it means for us to be material beings in a universe of natural laws. He asks if there is any difference between ourselves and the brains from which we seem never able to escape. He throws down the wildcards and plays them to the fullest: What about art? What about addiction? What about twins? And he asks, of course, what this all means for politics.

Ultimately, Baggini challenges those who think free will is an illusion. Moving from doubt to optimism to a hedged acceptance of free will, he ultimately lands on a satisfying conclusion: it is something we earn. The result is a highly engaging, new, and more positive understanding of our sense of personal freedom, a freedom that is definitely worth having.
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