Review : Learning to Live by Luc Ferry

Categories 3 Literature

This is an excellent, readable, inspiring and timely book. Luc Ferry protests that academic philosophy has become too technical, specialised and arid. Instead he develops a fresh focus for philosophy on the great themes and questions of life. Greek philosophy derived from harmony in the cosmos, whilst Christian thinking emphasised the individual’s discordant nature. Cartesian thought introduced equality, individualism, the value of work and most importantly subjectivity, the individual’s tabula rasa, and a rejection of tradition and authority as the basis of truth. Modernity offered alternatives of scientism, patriotism and communism whilst Nietzsche’s deconstruction championed the ‘will to power’, ‘amor fati’,and his ‘Grand Style’ of assimilating perceived reality. Heidegger warned of the domination of technology.

This is all educative, interesting and compelling. But Ferry’s greatest contribution is his assertion of the inadequacy of materialism and mere physicalism, and his well argued insistence on transcendence in immanence as the greater human reality. Agreeing with Husserl, Ferry develops the implications and fulness for humanity of a transcendence which materialism has denied. In so doing he offers a philosophy which renders us more fully human without resorting to religious creed.

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