Additional Book Information

Series: New York Review Books
ISBN:
Pages: 160
Publication Date: February 20, 2018

Things That Bother MeDeath, Freedom, and the Self

by Galen Strawson

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Galen Strawson might be described as the Montaigne of modern philosophers, endlessly curious, enormously erudite, unafraid of strange, difficult, and provocative propositions, and able to describe them clearly—in other words, he is a true essayist. Strawson also shares with Montaigne a particular fascination with the elastic and elusive nature of the self and of consciousness. Of the essays collected here, “A Fallacy of Our Age” (an inspiration for Vendela Vida’s novel Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name) takes issue with the commencement-address cliché that life is a story. Strawson questions whether it is desirable or even meaningful to think about life that way. “The Sense of Self” offers an alternative account, in part personal, of how a distinct sense of self is not at all incompatible with a sense of the self as discontinuous,
leading Strawson to a position that he sees as in some ways Buddhist. “Real Naturalism” argues that a fully naturalist account of consciousness supports a belief in the immanence of consciousness in nature as a whole (also known as panpsychism), while in the final essay Strawson offers a vivid account of coming of age in the 1960s.

Drawing on literature and life as much as on philosophy, this is a book that prompts both argument and wonder.