If this life is all there is, what should we do with it? Join Swedish philosopher Martin Hagglund on an original inquiry into the deepest questions of existence, beginning with a radical declaration: ‘What I do and what I love can matter to me only because I understand myself as mortal.’
Through revelatory engagements with some of history’s greatest philosophers, including Aristotle, St Augustine, Nietzsche, Hegel and Marx, Hagglund attacks our two great deceivers, religion and capitalism. Only by stripping away their subtle illusions can we discover the true value of our earthly freedom.
Existence is revealed as a collective project: everything is at stake in what we do together, and no victory can survive us. ‘The light of bliss – even when it floods your life – is always attended by the shadow of loss.’ By illuminating this truth, This Life forges an existential philosophy fit for a darkening century.
Beautifully liberating ... Hagglund's fundamental secular cry seems right: since time is all we have, we must measure its preciousness in units of freedom. Nothing else will do. Once this glorious idea has taken hold, it is very hard to dislodge. * New Yorker * Like the existentialist works of the mid-20th century, This Life is a stirring reminder about philosophy's power to move and disturb as well as illuminate. * New Statesman * Really moving and actually soothing. It gave me some kind of inner peace to contemplate Martin Hagglund's arguments, partly because the arguments really are about how beautiful and precious and singular it is to have this life, to be alive as a human on this planet. * Why Is This Happening? podcast * Lucidly written, and at times beautifully so, it is unmistakably a work of philosophy... [Hagglund] wants to effect a revolutionary change in our understanding of value, in our economies and in our lives. * New Statesman * A breathtaking reconstruction of Marx as a thinker of freedom... An intervention in intellectual history of the first order. * Radical Philosophy * A splendid primer in the importance of authentic freedom. * Yanis Varoufakis, former Greek minister of finance and author of Adults in the Room * Martin Hagglund shows with real originality why the moral concern that underlies religious faith has always been a hope for the perpetuation of life on earth. Stringent, lucid, and urgent in its appeal for a politics equal to the prospect of climate disaster, This Life is both an argument and a summons. * David Bromwich, Sterling Professor at Yale University and author of Moral Imagination * This is a rare piece of work, the product of great intellectual strength and moral fortitude. The writing shows extraordinary range and possesses an honesty and fervor which is entirely without cynicism... Hagglund is a genuine moralist for our times, possessed of an undaunted resoluteness and a fierce commitment to intellectual probity. Maybe he's the philosophical analogue to Karl Ove Knausgaard. * Simon Critchley, curator for The New York Times' The Stone and author of Tragedy, the Greeks, and Us * A bold contemporary take on existentialism... Earnest and precise... huge intellectual range... beautifully clear. This Life requires no philosophical training or lexicon to follow it, only an interest in the meaning of this life...I found Hagglund's cherishing of mortal life a cheering corrective to the sometimes joyless scientificity of the new atheism....Hagglund is surely right that it is our mortality, our miraculous existence as carbon-based matter turned all too briefly into conscious beings who can love and be loved, that makes us priceless to ourselves and to each other. * Times Higher Education * Hagglund's This Life is a highly readable, accessible - yet profound - examination of what kind of society might enable life at its most fulfilling. Whilst realising our interdependence, we have to be responsible for our own fragile lives. The theses may be heavy, but the discussions and analyses, however complex, are written with a light touch and beguiling clarity which is both wholly absorbing and deeply relevant. The reader is complicit, a partner. It is a book to read slowly, and this reviewer is about to start reading it all over again. * The Arts Desk *
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