Terribly Serious Adventure

Philosophy at Oxford 1900-60

«This is a beautiful gift of a book, most especially at the moment, when truth is not at a premium. It's easy to trivialize what these philosophers were doing, in their endless parsing and puzzling. But in their collective activity they were asserting that truth is as subtle as it is essential. Nikhil Krishnan has managed to tell us a wonderful story, filled with one-of-a-kind characters, while doing justice to a terribly serious adventure»

Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, author, Plato at the Googleplex

A Telegraph Best Summer Book of 2023

A New York Times 'Critics' Pick' Book of 2023

What are the limits of language? How to bring philosophy closer to everyday life? What is a good human being?

These were among the questions that philosophers wrestled with in mid-twentieth-century Britain, a period shadowed by war and the rise of fascism. Les mer

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A Telegraph Best Summer Book of 2023

A New York Times 'Critics' Pick' Book of 2023

What are the limits of language? How to bring philosophy closer to everyday life? What is a good human being?

These were among the questions that philosophers wrestled with in mid-twentieth-century Britain, a period shadowed by war and the rise of fascism. In response to these events, thinkers such as Gilbert Ryle, J. L. Austin, Elizabeth Anscombe and Iris Murdoch aspired to a new level of watchfulness and self-awareness about language. Being vigilant about their words was their way to keep philosophy true to everyday experience.

A Terribly Serious Adventure traces the friendships and the rivalries, the shared preoccupations and the passionate disagreements of Oxford's most brilliant thinkers. Far from being stuck in a world of tweed, pipes and public schools, the Oxford philosophers drew on their wartime lives as soldiers and spies, conscientious objectors and prisoners of war in creating their greatest works, works that are original in both thought and style, true masterpieces of British modernism.

Nikhil Krishnan brings his knowledge and understanding of philosophy to bear on the lives and intellectual achievements of a large and lively cast of characters. Together, they stood for a compelling moral vision of philosophy that is still with us today.

Detaljer

Forlag
Profile Books Ltd
Innbinding
Innbundet
Språk
Engelsk
Sider
416
ISBN
9781800812369
Utgivelsesår
2023
Format
24 x 16 cm

Om forfatteren

Nikhil Krishnan is a Fellow in Philosophy at Robinson College, Cambridge. He completed his doctorate in Philosophy at Balliol College, Oxford. His essays and reviews have appeared in the New Yorker, New Statesman, Daily Telegraph and Literary Review.

Anmeldelser

«This is a beautiful gift of a book, most especially at the moment, when truth is not at a premium. It's easy to trivialize what these philosophers were doing, in their endless parsing and puzzling. But in their collective activity they were asserting that truth is as subtle as it is essential. Nikhil Krishnan has managed to tell us a wonderful story, filled with one-of-a-kind characters, while doing justice to a terribly serious adventure»

Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, author, Plato at the Googleplex

«A compelling story-teller, Krishnan brings human sympathy and acuity to his very readable book. Past debates spring vividly to life, with all their drama and comedy: so we understand how philosophers walked-and-talked, suffered and interacted. Recommended to everyone interested in ideas, not just students of philosophy»

Peter J. Conradi, author, A Very English Hero: The Making of Frank Thompson

«This riveting and beautifully written book offers a compelling insight into the various ways in which philosophy developed in Oxford in the first half of the twentieth century. Anyone with a specialist interest in philosophy during this period is sure to be captivated by the book, but there will be plenty of interest for others too, as Krishnan expertly sets his narrative in the context of the two wars and the surrounding political turmoil»

Adrian Moore, philosopher and author, The Evolution of Modern Metaphysics

«This is Oxford philosophy in the round. The philosophical arguments (clearly explained), the personal lives, the colourful quotes, the elbow patches and buttered crumpets. Brilliantly written»

James Franklin, author, Corrupting the Youth: A History of Philosophy in Australia

«There is a rumour that philosophy in the twentieth century detached itself from the flesh and blood realities of the world. In this meticulous study, Krishnan argues something quite different occurred: a deranged world - shot through with violence, ideology and injustice - turned its back on the love of wisdom. And a small band of philosophers stood in enduring protest.»

John Kaag, author, American Philosophy

«Krishnan accomplishes the feat of seamlessly interweaving the story of the colourful characters who made up the world of twentieth-century Oxford philosophy with a cogent account of the theoretical controversies that roiled them. We are given first-row seats to the brilliance, obstinacy, jousting, and intellectual enthusiasms that marked that legendary academic circle»

David Kertzer, author, The Pope at War

«Ordinary Language can hardly convey how much I loved this book. I golloped it down like a pot of honey, then started again»

Tom Stoppard, 'Books of the Year 2023', Times Literary Supplement

«One of the finest writers we have ... [Krishnan] writes with the discipline of a scholar and the story-telling skill of a novelist, with empathy, humour, and a ringing clarity»

Hindu

«An account of thought at Oxford from 1900-1960 that weaves biography with philosophy and somehow attains a pellucid clarity ... spirited, though frequently wry ... in passage after passage of fierce analysis, Krishnan offers a fresh justification of a fiercely practical project»

Sunday Telegraph

«Krishnan has succeeded in bringing these men and women and their complex and intense relations to life - which is a real achievement»

New Statesman

«An entertaining and informative homage to philosophers at Oxford ... Exhilarating»

Washington Post

«Nikhil Krishnan's terrific new book, A Terribly Serious Adventure, tells the story of the heyday of linguistic philosophy»

Spectator

«A Terribly Serious Adventure beautifully portrays - and exemplifies - the combined wit and profundity, exuberance and rigour, of Oxford analytic philosophy»

TLS

«Enjoyable ... [Krishnan] recognises that Oxford philosophy is sometimes reproached for its frivolity, but maintains that the 'jokiness' was in fact a mask for 'something deeper'»

Literary Review

«A love letter, written by someone who knows what it means to fall in love with philosophy»

The Critic

«Fascinating»

The Oldie

«In tracing the careers of a whole host of prominent twentieth-century philosophers ... Krishnan aims not only to offer a basic overview of the philosophical developments of the period, but also to explain what these philosophers were doing in espousing their views and what effects those acts of espousal had ... a valuable contribution ... highly amusing»

Oxford Political Review

«Part of the delight of Krishnan's book, then - with its focus on highly entertaining personalities, career achievements, and relationships - is to realise how utterly contingent the intellectual trajectory of analytical philosophy has been: dependent all the while on the character traits, foibles, and personal obsessions of a particular group of people»

UnHerd

«A very thorough account of English intellectual life in the middle of the last century ... as intellectual life has become more specialised and fragmented, this account is a reminder of how important clear, ordinary language is to explain things ... a great introduction to a modern phase of philosophy»

Bookmunch

«As Cambridge undergraduates we read Ryle, Williams, Wittgenstein, Anscombe, Ayer... some we heard in lectures, others we read in books; but we never saw them as a tribe, widely differing but part of the same association of human beings on the same adventure: people who knew each other. Krishnan brings that association - its ideas, of course, but its characters too - wonderfully to life»

Matthew Parris

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