The Book Of Dead Philosophers | Granta

  • Published: 04/08/2011
  • ISBN: 9781847085429
  • Granta Books
  • 336 pages

The Book Of Dead Philosophers

Simon Critchley

Starting from the premise that philosophers’ deaths have been as interesting as their lives, Simon Critchley looks at the strange circumstances in which some philosophers have died and then confronts the big themes – in this case, what ‘a good death’ means and how to live with the knowledge of death. The book consists of short entries on various philosophers, cataloguing the manner of their demises and linking this to their central ideas, from the Pre-Socratics to Rousseau, Kant and Nietzsche among many others. The book concludes with Critchley’s thoughts on the ideal of the philosophical death as a way of denouncing contemporary delusions and sophistries, what Francis Bacon saw as the Idols of the Tribe, the Den, the Market-Place and the Theatre (incidentally, Bacon died in a particularly cold winter in London in 1626 from a cold contracted after trying to stuff a chicken with snow as an experiment in refrigeration).

This ingenious primer collects potted biographies of 190 dead philosophers, then attempts to extrapolate their views from the manner of their passing. It's packed with great stories

Time Out

A provocative and engrossing invitation to think about the human condition and what philosophy can do and can't do to illuminate it

Financial Times

This is a rigorous, profound and frequently hilarious book ... Critchley himself is an engaging, deadpan guide to the metaphysical necropolis; a writer equally skilled in low puns ... and concise accounts of his subjects' more abstruse meditations. At a time when much popular philosophy is either frivolous, dull or complacent, his is a bracingly serious and properly comic presence


The Author

Simon Critchley is Professor and Chair of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research in New York. He is the author of many books, including Infinitely Demanding and On Heidegger’s ‘Being and Time’, and the editor of Granta’s How to Read series. He is allegedly the Chief Philosopher of the International Necronautical Society.

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