The Book of Dead Philosophers
By Simon Critchley
(Vintage Books USA, Paperback, 9780307390431, 265pp.)
Publication Date: February 10, 2009
List Price: $16.95*
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"One who no longer is cannot suffer." --Lucretius; suicide, allegedly driven mad by a love potion
"Life is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." --Hobbes; died in bed, age 91
In this collection of brief lives (and deaths) of nearly two hundred of the world's greatest thinkers, noted philosopher Simon Critchley creates a register of mortality that is tragic, amusing, absurd, and exemplary. From the self-mocking haikus of Zen masters on their deathbeds to the last words of Christian saints and modern-day sages, this irresistible book contains much to inspire both amusement and reflection.
Informed by Critchley's acute insight, scholarly intelligence, and sprightly wit, each entry tells its own tale, but collected together they add up to a profound and moving investigation of meaning and the possibility of happiness for us all.
“A provocative and engrossing invitation to think about the human condition and what philosophy can and can't do to illuminate it.”
—The Financial Times
“Rigorous, profound and frequently hilarious. . . . Critchley is an engaging, deadpan guide to the metaphysical necropolis. . . . At a time when much popular philosophy is either frivolous, dull or complacent, his is a bracingly serious and properly comic presence.”
—The Daily Telegraph (UK)