ABOUT THIS BOOK
One of the world’s most provocative philosophers attacks the obsession with comprehensive intellectual systems—the perceived need for a world view.
We live in a unitary cosmos created and cared for in all its details by a benevolent god. That, for centuries, was the starting point for much philosophical and religious thinking in the West. The task was to accommodate ourselves to that view and restrict ourselves to working out how the pieces fit together within a rigidly determined framework. In this collection of essays, one of our most creative contemporary philosophers explores the problems and pathologies of the habit of overly systematic thinking that we have inherited from this past.
Raymond Geuss begins by making a general case for flexible and skeptical thinking with room for doubt and unresolved complexity. He examines the ideas of two of his most influential teachers—one systematic, the other pragmatic—in light of Nietzsche’s ideas about appearance and reality. The chapters that follow concern related moral, psychological, and philosophical subjects. These include the idea that one should make one’s life a work of art, the importance of games, the concept of need, and the nature of manifestoes. Along the way, Geuss ranges widely, from ancient philosophy to modern art, with his characteristic combination of clarity, acuity, and wit.
Who Needs a World View? is a provocative and enlightening demonstration of what philosophy can achieve when it abandons its ambitions for completeness, consistency, and unity.
Many of the joys of Who Needs a World View? lie not only in the encouragement Geuss offers to see through the need for a worldview but also in his pithy and enlightening insights into the works of the philosophers, artists, and writers he discusses.
-- Georgia Warnke, Director, Center for Ideas and Society, University of California, Riverside
Raymond Geuss has undertaken in recent years to resuscitate the genre of the classical philosophical essay, and he has by now made himself an absolute master of it. This is abundantly evident in his new collection of essays, which takes us on a vertiginous and often exhilarating journey that easily passes from Homer to the present in pursuit of his leading question, ‘Who needs a world view?’
-- Hans Sluga, University of California, Berkeley
Who Needs a World View? is a brilliant collection of essays that richly yet deftly challenges a broad range of pieties and settled assumptions on how we are supposed to understand our lives and our circumstances. Raymond Geuss shares with us the philosophical motivations behind his approach to those questions, with absorbing accounts of the two teachers who deeply impressed his thinking. This is a book of unfailingly resonant, sometimes poignant, and characteristically timely interventions.
-- Brian O’Connor, Professor of Philosophy, University College Dublin
Geuss wants to replace collective creeds and manifestos, which tend to be dogmatic and encompassing, with personal confessions…These essays glitter with insights…Makes a compelling case, by argument and example, that one can live well without adopting any view of one’s life as a whole, let alone a systematic worldview.
-- Kieran Setiya Los Angeles Review of Books
Geuss’s startling scholarly range, from ancient Greek and biblical history to Brexit and Donald Trump, and his command of languages (French, German, Latin, Greek) and knowledge of figures both philosophical (Kant, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche) and artistic (Bruegel, Tristan Tzara, Paul Klee, Antonin Artaud) are on full display here, alongside his usual acuity and wit.
-- Hugo Drochon Times Literary Supplement
Probing and playful essays.
-- Graham Ambrose Chicago Review of Books
Some of his most personal [essays] and they have a perceptive depth to them where each feels like a glimpse at life in its most spontaneous, creative, unruly, and ultimately, unknowable aspects, and the implications these have for how we orientate ourselves in the world.
-- Alex Tebble Marx and Philosophy
Geuss [is] among the most renowned philosophical essayists alive today…In one way or another, all of [his] work sets out to puncture the pretensions of contemporary Anglophone philosophical thinking…Who Needs a World View? is perhaps Geuss’s most personal and existential book yet…This collection of essays confirms Geuss’s status as a subtle, perceptive, and deep thinker with estimable gifts and an enviable range.
-- Edward Hall Society