Bernard Williams was one of the most important philosophers of the past fifty years, but he was also a distinguished critic and essayist with an elegant style and a rare ability to communicate complex ideas to a wide public. This is the first collection of Williams’s popular essays and reviews. Williams writes about a broad range of subjects, from philosophy to science, the humanities, economics, feminism, and pornography.
Included are reviews of major books such as John Rawls’s Theory of Justice, Richard Rorty’s Consequences of Pragmatism, and Martha Nussbaum’s Therapy of Desire. But many of these essays extend beyond philosophy, providing an intellectual tour through the past half century, from C. S. Lewis to Noam Chomsky. No matter the subject, readers see a first-class mind grappling with landmark books in "real time," before critical consensus had formed and ossified.
Bernard Williams held Chairs of Moral Philosophy at Cambridge, Berkeley, and Oxford. He died in 2003.
"[A]ffords a different, and especially advantageous, perspective from which to consider the animating ideas of Williams's humanism."--Joel Isaac, Times Literary Supplement
"[A] dazzling intellectual feast. . . . Williams's quickness, insight and wit are no surprise. More surprising, perhaps, is his rare capacity for intellectual empathy. Even more valuable are the non-review essays, which address the role of philosophy, and the humanities more generally, in human life, making a powerful case for their indispensability."--Martha Nussbaum, Times Literary Supplement
"[Williams’] essays accommodate the world and the reader, and unlike the world, give one confidence and delight in good argument."--Geoffrey Hawthorn, London Review of Books
"[A] stimulating read for anyone who cares about the condition of the world. With characteristic clarity, insight, and humor, the author tackles a wide range of topics as diverse as philosophy, religion, science, the humanities, and pornography."--Wan Lixin, Shanghai Daily
"This rigorous collection of essays and reviews reveals the brilliant and critical mind of Bernard Williams. . . . In these reviews and essays Williams achieves something that philosophy always promises but seldom delivers: a view from the perspective of reason, on a cultural landscape where reason is only one of the landmarks."--Roger Scruton, Telegraph
"Illuminating and instructive essays and reviews. This is a book which should inspire readers to go and read--or perhaps reread--Williams's other works."--Alasdair Palmer, Standpoint
Table of Contents
Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Michael Wood:
Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Bernard Williams: