Book review: Philosophy, The latest answers to the oldest questions. By Nicholas Fearn. Atlantic Books, 2006.

Book review: Philosophy, The latest answers to the oldest questions. By Nicholas Fearn. Atlantic Books, 2006.

I picked up this little gem of a book at a recent book sale. The jacket indicates that it was originally priced near R.90 (ninety rand, my local currency); sneakily, I added this luminous work to my ever-growing collection for the handsomely low price of R.28 inc VAT.

This low investment stands in stark contrast to the supremely gratifying intrinsic value of the work. Fearn has presented the book as an exposition of the current (2005) state of Western Philosophy’s answers to a range of fundamental problems in the field, and organises this wide-ranging treatment around three key questions:

Who am I?

What do I know?

What should I do?

The book is very well written with Fearn weaving an intricate but always clear web of understanding between the branches of such captivating questions as “the problem of the self”; “free will”; “the problem of knowledge”; “moral luck”; and a particularly insightful prodding of the innards of “Postmodernism and Pragmatism”. Fearn adds his excellent commentary to that of numerous experts and thinkers and travels to meet the big names trying to answer these questions.

My initial attraction to the book (there is a baseline predisposition within me to reflexively grab any book even vaguely mentioning Philosophy) was considerably augmented by the stamp of approval on the front cover; there emblazoned above a contemplative cloud image Raymond Tallis called the work “An intellectual feast”. Well, I hunger incessantly for just such edifying meal of the mind (no implication or suggestion of Hannibal Lector or that last statement will seem rather perverse!).

The book is pitched perfectly – never patronisingly simplistic or overly didactic, and most adequately avoids getting stuck in quagmires of the academically obtuse. It is a clear and potently stimulating tour of the ideas, perspectives and characters of modern Philosophy and Fearn is a wonderful guide to this fascinating landscape.


~ by Fluxosaurus on November 7, 2011.

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