THE EXAMINED LIFE: Philosophical Meditations by Robert Nozick

THE EXAMINED LIFE: Philosophical Meditations

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Nozick (Philosophical Explanations, 1981) takes a break from communicating ""rational mind to rational mind""--as has been the fashion, he writes, among philosophers for some time--and instead attempts to address ""from his whole being"" the basic question of how we can best live our lives. Making no claim to stake out a philosophical ""stance,"" Nozick invites the reader to peruse his meditations critically, climbing on and off his train of thought as one pleases. Certainly his essays on the legitimacy and meaning of bequests, on why happiness isn't enough to fill a life, on the way our emotions serve to re-create outer reality within the body (and thereby expand our life experience) make for a pleasant and stimulating adventure. The reader might well want to de-train for lunch, however, when the author unexpectedly switches gears by categorically stating that the Holocaust has desanctified humanity to the extent that ""if it were obliterated now, its end would no longer constitute a special tragedy."" Most other topics fare better, particularly a definition of love's joy as the relief of relinquishing the boundary between one's self and an outside ""other."" Altogether an eccentric, occasionally self-indulgent, collection of ideas (and intentionally so), this stands on its own as a record of one philosopher's ever-evolving pursuit of wisdom. As such it makes for a thoughtful and entertaining, if rather rarefied, book.

Pub Date: Oct. 31st, 1989
Publisher: Simon & Schuster