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Mary Midgley and David Midgley

The Essential Mary Midgley

Our view of the world has changed a lot in the last half century, and Mary Midgley has played a significant part in commenting on, and indeed sometimes playing a part in, this change. The Essential Mary Midgley is a collection of chapters from her books. The book starts with a look at our attitude to animals - how we tend to project on to them the negative side of humanity, which has no relation to their actual behaviour. In the second part of the book Midgley argues that moral philosophy took the wrong direction in the first half of the 20th century, seemingly wanting to avoid morality altogether. I felt that the book shows Midgley's skill in dealing with many philosophical viewpoints which have passed their sell-by date.

On the issue of how Midgley dealt with the current scientific worldview, I wasn't so sure. We all want to be the one who shouts 'The emperor has no clothes', but to me Midgley seems to reflect established views much more than she would care to admit. Midgley doesn't object to science as such, rather to those scientists who want to push it too far. Unfortunately this comes over as a general negativity, wanting to supress anyone who is too enthusiastic. It is quite probable though that the impression I get is due to the nature of the book - that is a collection of excerpts from other books. Several times I'd find myself coming to the end of a section when I felt that her arguments were just getting started. So this book is useful for seeing how Midgley deals with some of the traditional philosophical viewpoints, but to study how she tackles more modern views I think you will need to read her individual books.

Amazon.com info
Paperback 424 pages  
ISBN: 0415346428
Salesrank: 499578
Weight:1.19 lbs
Published: 2005 Routledge
Amazon price $26.27
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Amazon.co.uk info
Paperback 424 pages  
ISBN: 0415346428
Salesrank: 762619
Weight:1.19 lbs
Published: 2005 Routledge
Amazon price £15.67
Marketplace:New from £11.98:Used from £10.62
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Amazon.ca info
Paperback 424 pages  
ISBN: 0415346428
Salesrank: 2798978
Weight:1.19 lbs
Published: 2005 Routledge
Amazon price CDN$ 23.52
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 23.52:Used from CDN$ 22.78
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Product Description
Feared and admired in equal measure, Mary Midgley has carefully yet profoundly challenged many of the scientific and moral orthodoxies of the twentieth century. The Essential Mary Midgley collects for the first time the very best of this famous philosopher's work, described by the Financial Times as 'common sense philosophy of the highest order'.

This unrivalled introduction to a great philosopher and brilliant writer incorporates carefully selected excerpts from Mary Midgley's bestselling books, including Wickedness, Beast and Man, Science and Poetry, and The Myths We Live By. With a specially written foreword by James Lovelock, this classic text presents a superb and eminently readable insight into questions she has returned to time and again in her renowned sharp prose. This anthology discusses major topics, such as the roots of human nature, reason and imagination, the myths of science and the importance of holism in thinking about science and the environment.