What is the meaning of life?
Eminent philosopher and author Professor A.C Grayling will offer answers to this eternal question and more in his exclusive to Brisbane events Philosophy and Life: An Evening with A.C.Grayling.
Contemplating questions about life and how to live it, the Socratic challenge invites us to examine the philosophies we live by. ‘What sort of person should I be’ ‘What values shall I live by’ ‘What shall I aim for?’.
Having spent a lifetime thinking and writing about these great questions, Professor A.C. Grayling’s latest book Philosophy and Life offers an insightful exploration of what philosophy can tell us about life and how to live it.
Ahead of his events with us, we got to know Professor Grayling a little better with this short Q and A below.
1. What question you would ask of an historical figure?
Being restricted to just one question to just one historical figure? A tall order. It would take ages to order the list of burning questions one has for everyone who has made a difference since Sargon the Great of Akkad, history's first named individual. But I would ask him: you had a great empire and you have lasting fame: if you were obliged to choose just one of these, which would it be?
2. What is the question you are most frequently asked and your response?
'What is your favourite book, who is your favourite philosopher' etc., and I answer, 'I greatly dislike beauty contest questions - those seeking just one winner - because there are so many books, so many thinkers, so much of everything to value, learn from and enjoy; Parnassus - the mountain of achievement - is not a peak with room for only one but a plateau with room for many.
3. What are the key things you want a reader to take away from Philosophy and Life?
One - the first - is the great importance of thinking for oneself about what really matters, and to live accordingly. Most people everywhere throughout time have lived in obedience to conventions and traditions, crowding together like penguins in the cold to be as like everyone else as possible. Those who have made a difference to our world have chosen their own paths. Another key thing is the great importance of realising that love, death, and meaning are not what they seem, as more searching reflection about them shows: and that it is a duty to ourselves to reflect on those things.
4. Who do you write for?
For myself and anyone who will join in the endeavour to make sense of things, to understand, to join the dots, to learn from what I call 'the conversation of humankind' about what matters, to be literate about the past, about science, about the lessons that literature teaches us about the human heart and its desires.
5. What is something you’ve changed your mind about?
I've reluctantly come to accept that reason is less of a motivator to action than I'd wanted to believe, and emotion more dominant in the life both of individuals and societies than is good for either. But that does not prompt abandoning the claim of reason, or the hope that reason can direct emotion towards the sentiments that the world most needs: kindness, empathy, fellowship.
6. Whose advice have you found most valuable?
The advice of the experienced: of those who have been there and done it, and survived to think about what it meant and what it was worth.
About A.C Grayling
A. C. Grayling CBE MA DPhil (Oxon) FRSA FRSL is the Principal of Northeastern University London, and its Professor of Philosophy. He is also a Supernumerary Fellow of St Anne's College, Oxford. He is the author of over thirty books of philosophy, biography, history of ideas, and essays. He was for a number of years a columnist on the Guardian, the Times, and Prospect magazine. He has contributed to many leading newspapers in the UK, US and Australia, and to BBC radios 4, 3 and the World Service, for which he did the annual 'Exchanges at the Frontier' series; and he has often appeared on television. He has twice been a judge on the Booker Prize, in 2014 serving as the Chair of the judging panel. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a Vice President of Humanists UK, Patron of the Defence Humanists, Honorary Associate of the Secular Society, and a Patron of Dignity in Dying.
A.C. Grayling is in Australia as the inaugural speaker of the Ngalang Koort Conversations, presented by Wesfarmers and the Foundation for the WA Museum.
Find out more about A.C Grayling - check out InQueensland article.
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