Author(s): Galen Strawson
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; he is a true essayist, in other words. With Montaigne Strawson also shares 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 cliche 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 whole (also known as pan-psychism), while in the final essay Strawson offers a vivid account of coming of age in the 1960s. Drawing on literature and life as much philosophy, this is a book that prompts both argument and wonder.
An original collection of lauded philosopher Galen Strawson's writings on the self and consciousness, naturalism and pan-psychism.
"Galen Strawson is one of the cleverest men alive." --Ian McEwan "I found Things That Bother Me captivating, not only for its philosophical insightfulness but also for its wit and pathos. Strawson, by not hiding behind the facade of the impersonal point of view, manages to draw a reader close, even while discussing some rather abstruse topics. It is a rare and wonderful philosopher who can make almost anybody be bothered by the things that bother him." --Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, author of Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won't Go Away "Galen Strawson has a marvelous gift for untangling even the most complex lines in philosophical thinking and laying them straight. He writes with humor, clarity and always from a recognizably human place. Even the most complex and controversial areas in modern philosophy come into the light when you are in his benign company.... He opens windows and finds light-switches like no other philosopher writing today." --Stephen Fry
Galen Strawson is a writer and professor of philosophy. He has taught at his alma mater, Oxford University, the University of Reading, and at CUNY Graduate Center, among other institutions. He is the author of seven works of nonfiction, including Freedom and Belief and Consciousness and its Place in Nature, and has been a consulting editor for the Times Literary Supplement for many years and is a regular book reviewer for several UK publications. He is currently Chair in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Texas, Austin.