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This Life

Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom
Narrated by: Kirby Heyborne
Length: 16 hrs and 44 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (23 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A profound, original, and accessible book that offers a new secular vision of how we can lead our lives. Ranging from fundamental existential questions to the most pressing social issues of our time, This Life shows why our commitment to freedom and democracy should lead us beyond both religion and capitalism.

In this groundbreaking book, the philosopher Martin Hägglund challenges our received notions of faith and freedom. The faith we need to cultivate, he argues, is not a religious faith in eternity but a secular faith devoted to our finite life together. He shows that all spiritual questions of freedom are inseparable from economic and material conditions. What ultimately matters is how we treat one another in this life and what we do with our time together. 

Hägglund develops new existential and political principles while transforming our understanding of spiritual life. His critique of religion takes us to the heart of what it means to mourn our loved ones, be committed, and care about a sustainable world. His critique of capitalism demonstrates that we fail to sustain our democratic values because our lives depend on wage labor. In clear and pathbreaking terms, Hägglund explains why capitalism is inimical to our freedom, and why we should instead pursue a novel form of democratic socialism. 

In developing his vision of an emancipated secular life, Hägglund engages with great philosophers from Aristotle to Hegel and Marx, literary writers from Dante to Proust and Knausgaard, political economists from Mill to Keynes and Hayek, and religious thinkers from Augustine to Kierkegaard and Martin Luther King, Jr. This Life gives us new access to our past - for the sake of a different future.

©2019 Martin Hägglund (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“Gives fresh philosophical and political vitality to a longstanding question... Much in the book will resonate with a democratic left that has gained strength in the seven-plus years since Occupy - in Black Lives Matter and the Sanders campaign, in the vision of the Green New Deal, in the Fight for $15 and in North Carolina’s Moral Mondays. This Life attempts to deepen the philosophical dimension of this left and to anchor its commitments in a larger inquiry: What kind of political and economic order can do justice to our mortality, to the fact that our lives are all we have?... This Life presents a vital alternative.” (Jedediah Britton-Purdy, The New Republic)

"Arriving at a moment of widespread intellectual and political disorientation, This Life is a timely, profoundly ambitious attempt to fashion a new foundation for personal and collective existence. Hägglund argues that a return to Marx’s radical materialism does not have to signal a loss of spirituality or contempt for democracy, but something like the opposite: a truly secular faith in a redemptive realm of freedom." (Stephen Greenblatt, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Swerve: How the World Became Modern)

“This is a rare piece of work, the product of great intellectual strength and moral fortitude. The writing shows extraordinary range and possesses an honesty and fervor which is entirely without cynicism. Beneath Hägglund’s affirmation of secular faith and a life-defining commitment is a compelling reworking of the early Heidegger’s existential analytic, especially his understanding of finitude and ecstatic temporality. With the great difference that this is a distinctly leftist project, where secular faith leads to spiritual freedom which is understood as a Hegelian-Marxist affirmation of democratic socialism. Hägglund is a genuine moralist for our times, possessed of an undaunted resoluteness and a fierce commitment to intellectual probity. Maybe he’s the philosophical analogue to Karl Ove Knausgaard.” (Simon Critchley, curator for The New York Times' The Stone and author of Tragedy, the Greeks, and Us)

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