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Publisher's Summary

The religious turn to their faith to find meaning. But what about the many people who lead secular lives and are also hungry for meaning? What guides, what approaches are available to them?

Distinguished philosophers Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Dorrance Kelly explain that a secular life charged with meaning is indeed within reach. It is achieved by a passionate, skillful engagement with the people, events, and wonders present in the most ordinary days - an approach to meaning that modern Western culture seems to have abandoned.

Dreyfus and Kelly use some of the greatest works of the Western canon to trace the way we have lost this passionate engagement to our surroundings and to show us how to get it back. Taking us on a journey from the wonder and openness of Homer's polytheistic world, to the monotheism of Dante, to the nihilism of Kant, to the pantheism of Melville, and finally to the spiritual difficulties of the world evoked by modern authors such as David Foster Wallace and Elizabeth Gilbert, All Things Shining will change the way we understand our culture, our history, our sacred practices, and ourselves, and offer a new - and very old - way to celebrate a secular existence.

©2011 Original material by Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Dorrance Kelly. Published by arrangement with Free Press, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. (P)2011 HighBridge Company

Critic Reviews

" All Things Shining [is] a smart, sweeping run through the history of Western philosophy.... important for the way it illuminates life today and for the controversial advice it offers on how to live." (David Brooks, The New York Times)
"An engaging series of spirited, brief excursions from across the centuries, into the works of David Foster Wallace, Homer and Melville, most impressively, alongside strong readings of Descartes, Aeschylus, Dante, Flaubert and Martin Luther. ( National Post)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Tod
  • Mapleton Depot, PA, United States
  • 06-14-11

Excellent Book that refreshes the classics

This books does an amazing job of bringing the literary classics back to life to describe the problems of what has been lost in Western Society.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Challenging but worthwhile read - search for meaning in contemporary society

Drawing from several Great Books authors and ideas - spin a model of Ethel search for meaning. Well written but challenging - just finished the book and am still processing the substance and nuances of the messages.

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Amazing and thoughtful

Great book that offers new insight into classics while tying together thousands of years of human thought. Four stars because the last chapter sucks.

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Homework suggested for novices

As someone who was not trained as a philosopher but has become fascinated with existentialism, and have been teaching myself, perhaps I am not the best to give my opinion.

I love hearing how Kelly and Dreyfus suggest to find and cultivate meaning and a sense of the sacred in our modern age. I do not like how they dismiss Sartre but do understand why. In the final chapter their fourth point does admit a need for using higher reasoning which is where Sartre's ideas seem to add to the Heideggerian perspective they are promoting. They use Kant's ethics at this point rather than drawing on Sartre.

One drawback is that this book assumes familiarity with Wallace, Homer, Mobey Dick, and fancy terms that are new (pies is, physic?). As someone not up on classic literature I now have a lot of homework to educate myself properly to fully appreciate their perspective.

Thanks so much for this book! I sure wish they would publish their second volume they planned to write. In the meantime I plan to listen to this a second time after doing my homework!

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    5 out of 5 stars

Amazing

Having spent the last few years in full time pursuit of philosophy, I can say this book is everything I hoped. Easily approachable to the initiate, but there are layers of depth of meaning in the spaces between the lines, rooted in the last 2500 years of philosophical development, tying together so much in a splendid synthesis.