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The Terror of Existence

From Ecclesiastes to Theatre of the Absurd
Narrated by: Jack Wynters
Length: 4 hrs and 45 mins
Categories: Nonfiction, Philosophy
4.5 out of 5 stars (10 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The cultural death of God has created a conundrum for intellectuals. How could a life stripped of ultimate meaning be anything but absurd? How was man to live? How could he find direction in a world of no direction? What would he tell his children that could make their lives worthwhile? What is the ground of morality? 

Existentialism is the literary cri de coeur resulting from the realization that without God, everything good, true, and beautiful in human life is destined to be destroyed in a pitiless material cosmos. Theodore Dalrymple and Kenneth Francis examine the main existentialist works, from Ecclesiastes to the Theatre of the Absurd, each man coming from a different perspective. Francis is a believer, Dalrymple is not, but both empathize with the struggle to find meaning in a seemingly meaningless universe. 

Part literary criticism, part philosophical exploration, this book holds many surprising gems of insight from two of the most interesting minds of our time.

©2018 Anthony M. Daniels and Kenneth Francis (P)2018 New English Review Press

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Great book

Great book. I like the disposition of the author. Christians have a point there. Recommended

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • AnAmazoncustomer
  • 05-30-19

A masquerade for bitter right wing froth

The content of the book covers a range of texts from ancient greece to modern philosophy. The theme is consistent but the pseudo intellectual analysis by Francis which is used as a front for biased right wing fundamentalist christianity is truly nauseating. His fundamental argument - that christianity represents the rational has no rational basis. He seems incapable of addressing this instead reverting to insults and hyperbole. The last chapter in which he suggests 'the left' use violence to kill free speech is truly laughable. A left wing protester in the US was murdered by car a couple of years ago and a left wing MP in the UK was shot to death, both killed by right wingers. Francis' ramblings are atypical of the right, forceful and rhetorical, they eminate from the fear that god does not exist. It is easy to see how is ilk in past times led campaigns of murder and torture against heretics. The only argument he seems to have for questioning the only outcome of rational inquiry - that life is meaningless - is that it is too painful to bear the implications. In other words, like all fanatics, his foundational arguments are not based on reason but their ensuing prose and persuasion is. Put simply they are self-denying nihilists seeking to exert their will on the world and change it to fit their preconceptions. The fact that he does this is more the surprising given that the whole book which shows that many of the greatest thinkers throughout history have come to the same conclusion - life is absurd, a comedy and a tragedy. Yes, the outcome of nihilism (the lack of fundamental meaning in life) can be (but not necessarily) horrific but this doesn't mean it is untrue. The pursuit of logos would not lead to such a childish denial.

The narration was clear although in the style of an elderly vicar admonishing his flock - there were emergency vehicle sirens in the background at one point near the beginning too. The chapters are not labelled per which author wrote it and the narrator is the same throughout so it is not at first obvious which author you are listening to but Francis usually gives himself away soon enough.

0 of 4 people found this review helpful