In his major new book A.C. Grayling examines the different ways to live a good life, as proposed from classical antiquity to the recent present. Grayling focuses on the two very different conceptions of what a good life should be: one is a broadly secular view rooted in attitudes about human nature and the human condition; the other is a broadly transcendental view which locates the source of moral value outside the human realm. In the modern world - the world shaped by the rise of science in the seventeenth century - these two views have come increasingly into conflict, and the constantly accumulating tension between them is one of the greatest problems faced by the twenty-first century. Using his renowned clarity of thought and philosophical rigour, AC Grayling has produced an invaluable guide through mankind's ethical struggle to live decently.
How do we live a good life? Grayling is a professional philosopher, and his latest book - subtitled 'The Search for The Best Way To Live' - is an attempt to focus upon the big question with which philosophy has been perennially preoccupied. Addressing a 'general reader' without condescension, Grayling depicts an ongoing conflict between 'secular' and 'transcendental' attempts to define the good life. Between, that is, a tradition based upon enlightened humanism and those opposing traditions which tend to manifest themselves in organised religions. Grayling is hardly a neutral observer of the debate. He is, rather, a passionate humanist, alert to the contemporary dangers of a variety of fundamentalisms. He tends, at points, to oversimplify the opposition. But this is an admirably clear and engaging book, as well as a learned one.