The work of the classic philosophers is well known. But what do contemporary thinkers say about what it is to be a human being? In his serious, challenging, and remarkably accessible new book, Nicholas Fearn turns to contemporary philosophers to ask the age old questions: Who am I? What do I know? What should I do? In his search for higher meaning, Fearn consults with thinkers from around the world (including John Searle, Martha Nussbaum, Peter Singer, Richard Rorty, Daniel Dennett, Noam Chomsky, Derek Parfit, Nick Bostrom, among many others) to create an impressive survey of recent thought. Variously, they believe that free will, identity, and consciousness are not what they seem; that the difference between virtue and wickedness can be a matter of sheer luck; and that, one day, we will all be vegetarians. Fearn discovers that the topics haven’t changed, though our world has. Or has it? Moving deftly from pop culture to the writings of Plato, Philosophy is a brilliant and entertaining guide to the current state of the philosophical thought.
From Plato to Colin McGinn, thinkers have addressed the same set of core questions, making philosophy an enduring human science through imagination and debate. This book concisely organized into three parts titled "Who Am I?" "What Do I Know?" and "What Should I Do?" reviews not just the latest work on these age-old questions, but also the journey between ancient and modern philosophy. But where the title promises adventure, the broad overview obscures the quirky characters and theories that give life to today's great ideas. Further, Fearn seems unable to decide what kind of narrator he wants to be: he'll appear suddenly out of synthetic prose to interview or to fail to interview one of his more than 30 subjects. One of his stranger encounters is with Jacques Derrida: "Although he is renowned for his charm, I am unable to give a personal account of Derrida since he declined to be interviewed, and woke me up with a phone call at 7:30 a.m. to tell me so." In this way, the book certainly has its moments, especially in the later chapters, but too often loses momentum.