Grayling, A.C. 1949- (Anthony Grayling, Anthony Clifford Grayling)
Grayling, A.C. 1949- (Anthony Grayling, Anthony Clifford Grayling)
Born April 3, 1949, in Luanshya, Zambia; son of Henry Clifford and Ursula Adelaide Grayling; married Gabrielle Yvonne Smyth, January, 1970; partner of Katie Hickman; children: (with Smyth) Anthony Jolyon Clifford, Georgina Evelyn Ursula; (with Hickman) Madeleine Catherine Jennifer. Education: University of London, B.A.; University of Sussex, B.A., M.A.; Magdalen College, Oxford, D.Phil., 1981. Hobbies and other interests: Opera, theater, reading, walking, travel.
Philosopher, radio broadcaster, and educator. St. Anne's College, Oxford, lecturer, 1984-91, senior research fellow, 1991-97, supernumerary fellow, 1997—; Birkbeck College, University of London, London, England, lecturer, 1991-98, reader in philosophy, 1998-2005, professor of philosophy, 2005—. University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan, visiting professor, 1997; visiting lecturer, University of Chiba, University of Nagoya, University of Hokkaido, and Lublin University; Online Review, editor. Guardian, London, England, columnist, 1999-2002; Times, London, columnist, 2003—; member of editorial boards of Prospect, Reason and Practice and Russell Newsletter; Booker Prize judge, 2003; BBC Radios 4 and 3 and World Service, broadcaster; June Fourth, past chair; affiliated with the U.N. Human Rights Initiative; World Economic Forum C-100 Group on relations between the West and the Islamic world, member.
Aristotelian Society (honorary secretary, 1992-98), Athanaeum Club, Beefsteak Club, Groucho Club, World Economic Forum, and Royal Society of Arts (fellow).
Jan Huss fellowship, 1994, 1996; Leverhulme Trust fellowship, 1999.
An Introduction to Philosophical Logic, Barnes & Noble Books (Totowa, NJ), 1982, 3rd edition, Blackwell Publishers (Malden, MA), 1997.
The Refutation of Scepticism, Open Court Publishing Company (LaSalle, IL), 1985.
(Editor) Philosophy: A Guide through the Subject, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1995.
(With Susan Whitfield) China: A Literary Companion, Trafalgar Square Publishing (North Pomfret, VT), 1995.
Russell, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1996, published as Russell: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2002.
Philosophy: Further through the Subject, Oxford University Press (Oxford, NY), 1998.
The Meaning of Things: Applying Philosophy to Life, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 2001.
The Reason of Things: Living with Philosophy, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 2002.
Meditations for the Humanist: Ethics for a Secular Age, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2002.
What Is Good? The Search for the Best Way to Live, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 2003.
Life, Sex, and Ideas: The Good Life without God, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2003.
The Mystery of Things, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 2004.
The Heart of Things: Applying Philosophy to the Twenty-first Century, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 2005.
Descartes: The Life of Rene Descartes and Its Place in His Times, Free Press (London, England), 2005, published as Descartes: The Life and Times of a Genius, Walker (New York, NY), 2006.
Among the Dead Cities: The History and Moral Legacy of the WWII Bombing of Civilians in Germany and Japan, Walker (New York, NY), 2006, published as Among the Dead Cities: Was the Allied Bombing of Civilians in WWII a Necessity or a Crime?, Bloomsbury (London, England), 2006.
(As Anthony Grayling; editor, with others) The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy, Volumes 2, 3, and 4, Thoemmes Continuum (Bristol, England), 2006.
The Form of Things: Essays on Life, Ideas, and Liberty in the 21st Century, Phoenix (London, England), 2007.
Truth, Meaning, and Realism, Continuum (New York, NY), 2007.
Contributor to periodicals, including Literary Review, Observer, Economics, Times Literary Supplement, Independent on Sunday, New Statesman, and Financial Times; contributing editor to Philosophical Annual of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences; author of column "Last Word," London Guardian.
Philosopher and educator A.C. Grayling is a professor of philosophy who has served on numerous boards and is a past chair of June Fourth, a human rights group that focuses on China. Other human rights work includes involvement in the U.N. Human Rights Initiative. He also serves in the World Economic Forum's C-100 group on relations between the West and the Islamic world. "The focus of Anthony Grayling's interests in technical academic philosophy is the overlap between theory of knowledge, metaphysics, and philosophical logic," reported the biography on Grayling's home page. "In summary, they concern the relation between thinking and theorizing about the world, and the knowledge and meaning constraints which govern them."
In a lengthy professional career, Grayling has written both scholarly works and books designed to bring philosophical thought and practice to a general audience. In Meditations for the Humanist: Ethics for a Secular Age, Grayling provides a "primer designed to stimulate thinking" on the various possibilities, problems, and meanings of being human, remarked Library Journal reviewer Terry Skeats. The more than sixty essays cover topics in three broad categories: Virtues and Attributes, Foes and Fallacies, and Amenities and Goods. The works are "balanced, intelligently written, at times caustic, and always (as intended) thought-provoking," added Skeats. Grayling ponders a variety of uniquely human emotions and attributes, including love, community, family, religion, racism, revenge, loyalty, leisure, health, poverty, blasphemy, history, nationalism, and other "abstract terms we experience in a very real way every day," noted a Publishers Weekly contributor. Skeats called the collection a "superb little book."
Life, Sex, and Ideas: The Good Life without God contains a collection of short essays on a variety of philosophical subjects stemming from an overarching consideration of religion. These topics include war, capital punishment, politics, fasting, and more. Grayling holds a dim view of religion, noting that it is the primary source of dangerous fanaticism. He contends that religion should be confined to private life and should be strictly excluded from education, public affairs, and other social and political areas. Grayling also comments on terrorism and finds the greater threat to be the diminishment of civil liberties and the inability to practice civilized tolerance. Library Journal reviewer David Gordon observed that Grayling is "a fine essayist in action," and that while his viewpoints seem to be stated rather than proved, "readers will benefit from an encounter with his erudite and elegant prose."
In The Mystery of Things Grayling offers "a smattering of brief, mildly engaging essays for the lay reader on art, literature, and culture," commented a Kirkus Reviews critic. Derived largely from his weekly column in the London Times, the essays range widely across subjects related to art, philosophy, and intellectualism. Grayling encourages his readers to develop new ways of considering the world around them and its many physical and nonphysical manifestations. Topics covered include quantum theory, literature, consciousness, genetics, the origin of the universe, and other equally deep, open-ended topics. He ponders the meaning of German chancellor Adolf Hitler as an art collector, the tendency for students to veer away from classical studies, how leftist, left-leaning sentiments correlate with so-called high culture, and the role of genetics in refuting long-held misconceptions about race. "In brisk, pithy, jargon-free prose, Grayling opens issues for ordinary readers, leaving them with something to think about" without providing any definitive answers or premanufactured conclusions, remarked Leslie Armour in Library Journal.
With The Heart of Things: Applying Philosophy to the Twenty-first Century, Grayling once again approaches philosophy from the viewpoint of the generalist reader, framing significant philosophical issues in terms that can be grasped and used by an intelligent nonspecialist. "Eschewing specialist diction, the author provides, in admirably uncomplicated prose, a series of bite-sized reflections on a range of personal and public concerns, together with sketches of some dozen assorted thinkers," commented Chris Arthur, writing in Contemporary Review. In a wide-ranging collection of short essays, Grayling returns to the familiar format of brief, pithy musings on problems and topics in modern philosophy, culture, and society. The essays "are not so much applications of philosophy as a collection of thoughtful fragments on diverse topics," Arthur observed. Even though they may not delve deeply into the minutiae of philosophical analysis of a topic, they still provide learned reflections that an educated lay reader can use to form new opinions and new concepts about the world. Arthur concluded that "professional philosophers will probably be as dismissive of this book as the educated person-in-the-street is likely to be of the intricate minutiae with which such philosophers are preoccupied."
Descartes: The Life of Rene Descartes and Its Place in His Times was reprinted in the United States as Descartes: The Life and Times of a Genius. Descartes (1596-1650) lived during the time of the Spanish Inquisition, and he spent much of his life laying the groundwork for the pursuit of scientific inquiry. Grayling studies the difficulties experienced by the intellectual Descartes during the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, a period during which other thinkers, including Galileo, were persecuted for their theories. Grayling suggests that Descartes could have been a spy, which may have been the reason he eventually retreated to the Netherlands in 1628, where he concentrated on his intellectual pursuits. Library Journal contributor Francisca Goldsmith described the volume as being "an accessible and engaging biography of modernity's founding thinker."
Among the Dead Cities: The History and Moral Legacy of the WWII Bombing of Civilians in Germany and Japan was published in England as Among the DeadCities: Was the Allied Bombing of Civilians in WWII a Necessity or a Crime? Here Grayling considers both the pros and cons of bombing entire populations, acts that he feels had no military significance. They included Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden, and Hamburg. Graying concludes that the United States and Britain must confess to these breaches of morality in order to disassociate themselves from the atrocities committed by the Nazis.
Reviewing the book in Esprit de Corps, David Pugliese commented that Grayling puts more emphasis on the bombings of Germany that those of Japan, and added that Canadian bombing of Germany is not mentioned at all. Pugliese concluded that the study "will make for provocative reading no matter which side of this debate you support."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, December 1, 2005, Brendan Driscoll, review of Among the Dead Cities: Was the Allied Bombing of Civilians in WWII a Necessity or a Crime?, p. 16; November 15, 2006, Gilbert Taylor, review of Descartes: The Life and Times of a Genius, p. 8.
Contemporary Review, July, 2005, Chris Arthur, review of The Heart of Things: Applying Philosophy to the Twenty-first Century, p. 49.
Esprit de Corps, August, 2006, David Pugliese, review of Among the Dead Cities, p. 44.
Harper's, December, 2006, John Leonard, review of Descartes, p. 85.
Journal of Australian Studies, March, 2003, David Crawford, review of The Meaning of Things: Applying Philosophy to Life, p. 143.
Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2005, review of The Mystery of Things, p. 523; September 15, 2006, review of Descartes, p. 939.
Library Journal, May 15, 2002, Terry Skeats, review of Meditations for the Humanist: Ethics for a Secular Age, p. 101; June 1, 2003, David Gordon, review of Life, Sex, and Ideas: The Good Life without God, p. 126; June 15, 2005, Leslie Armour, review of The Mystery of Things, p. 74; January 1, 2006, review of Among the Dead Cities, p. 27; October 1, 2006, Francisca Goldsmith, review of Descartes, p. 77.
Publishers Weekly, April 1, 2002, review of Meditations for the Humanist, p. 70; October 31, 2005, review of Among the Dead Cities, p. 40; September 18, 2006, review of Descartes, p. 48.
School Library Journal, July, 2006, Ted Westervelt, review of Among the Dead Cities, p. 134.
Science News, November 18, 2006, review of Descartes, p. 335.
Weekly Standard, July 31, 2006, Christopher Hitchens, review of Among the Dead Cities.
A.C. Grayling Home Page,http://www.acgrayling.com (May 30, 2007).