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Titles By Mary Midgley
In spite of her many books and public profile, little is known about Mary's life. Part of a famous generation of women philosophers that includes Elizabeth Anscombe, Philippa Foot, Mary Warnock and Iris Murdoch, Midgley tells us in vivid and humorous fashion how they cut a swathe through the arid landscape of 1950s British Philosophy, writing and arguing about the grand themes of character, beauty and the meaning of rudeness.
As the mother of three children, her journey during the 1950s and 1960s was one of a woman fighting to combine a professional career with raising a family. In startling contrast to many of the academic stars of her generation, we learn that Midgley nearly became a novelist and started writing philosophy only when in her fifties, suggesting that Minerva’s owl really does fly at dusk.
Charting the highs and lows of philosophy and academia in Britain, this publication sheds light on Mary’s close friends, her moral philosophy and her meetings with major philosophers, including Wittgenstein and Isaiah Berlin.
Cutting through myths of scientific omnipotence, Mary Midgley explores how this inheritance has so powerfully shaped the way we are, and the problems it has brought with it. She argues that poetry and the arts can help reconcile these problems, and counteract generations of 'one-eyed specialists', unable and unwilling to look beyond their own scientific or literary sphere.
Dawkins, Atkins, Bacon and Descartes all come under fire as Midgely sears through contemporary debate, from Gaia to memes, and organic food to greenhouse gases. After years of unquestioned imperialism, science is finally forced to take a step back and acknowledge the arts.
In Are You an Illusion? today’s scientific orthodoxy, which treats the self as nothing more than an elaborate illusion, comes under spirited attack. In an impassioned defence of the importance of our own thoughts, feelings and experiences, Mary Midgley shows that there’s much more to our selves than a jumble of brain cells.
Exploring the remarkable gap that has opened up between our understanding of our own sense of self and today’s science, she exposes some very odd claims and muddled thinking on the part of cognitive scientists and psychologists when they talk about the self and shows that many well-known philosophical problems in causality and free have been glossed over.
Midgley argues powerfully and persuasively that the rich variety of our imaginative life cannot be contained in the narrow bounds of a highly puritanical materialism that simply equates brain and self. Engaging with the work of prominent thinkers, Midgley investigates the source of our current attitudes to the self and reveals how ideas, traditions and myths have been twisted to fit in, seemingly naturally, with science’s current preoccupation with the physical and, in doing so, have made many other valuable activities and ideas appear as anti-scientific. Midgley shows that the subjective sources of thought – our own experiences – are every bit as necessary in helping to explain the world as the objective ones such as brain cells.
Are You an Illusion? offers a salutary analysis of science’s claim to have done away with the self and a characteristic injection of common sense from one of our most respected philosophers into a debate increasingly in need of it.
"Engaging and accessible, this vigorous swansong exemplifies many of Midgley's virtues, and revisits many of her favourite themes." - The Tablet
In her last published work, Mary Midgley addresses provocative questions, interrogating the various forms of our current intellectual anxieties and confusions and how we might deal with them. In doing so, she provides a robust, yet not uncritical, defence of philosophy and the life of the mind.
This defence is expertly placed in the context of contemporary debates about science, religion, and philosophy. It asks whether, in light of rampant scientific and technological developments, we still need philosophy to help us think about the big questions of meaning, knowledge, and value.
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.
How should we treat animals? Why are we so confused about the value of education? What is at stake in feminism? Why should we sustain our environment? Why do we think intelligent computers will save us? Mary Midgley argues that philosophy not only can, but should be used in thinking about these questions.
Utopias, Dolphins and Computers will make fascinating reading for philosophers, educationalists, feminists, environmentalists and indeed anyone interested in the questions of philosophy, ethics and life.