THIS LIFE: Why Mortality Makes Us Free

THIS LIFE: Why Mortality Makes Us Free

MARTIN HAGGLUND    Book Number: 90894    Product format: Paperback

"What I do and what I love can matter to me only because I understand myself as mortal." This meditation comes from the Swedish philosopher Martin Hägglund who questions, if this life is all there is, what should we do with it? Analyse the duality of time, our present and past interwoven, as is described by the author when picturing a house in northern Sweden on the Baltic sea where Hägglund's mother was born where, amid the sweeping forests, ragged mountains and tall cliff formations on a landscape carved by the last glacial period, he is continuously reminded how life is dependent on history. Learn that a fatal philosophical mistake is conflating the way we strive for self-satisfaction with how we pursue egoistic enjoyment, drawing on Hegel's concept that our commitment to the common good is a condition of our own freedom. Interact with socio-political ideas, such as democratic socialism - as defined by Karl Marx - where its purpose is to transform the surplus time of our lives into socially available free time. Hägglund discusses moments of liberation across history too, whether that is Memphis on 12 February 1968, when nearly 1300 black sanitation workers went on strike, or Martin Luther King's political speeches which used religious rhetoric to represent how our spiritual freedom is inseparable from our dependence on material conditions and social recognition. Of course, this would not be a thorough study on mortality without a consideration of philosophers in the field and the author explores a range of work, from Saint Augustine (writing 1,600 years ago) who used the simple exercise of choosing a loved song and learning it by heart to demonstrate that you can only sing a song by retaining the notes that have since passed on, to Karl Ove Knausgaard's My Struggle which was Knausgaard's 3,600 page, six volume challenge to account his life in detail as he lived it, only writing about things he experienced while confessing how he experienced them. Religion and schools of thought are explored too, particularly in the section 'Faith' in which stoicism is discussed through the lens of experiencing disturbances of the mind through the love of those things that can perish (material things) and Spinoza's idea that, although our bodies are finite, we can process this mortality through aligning ourselves with eternal substances, whether God or Nature, which will provide equanimity in the face of an 'end'. This is a thoughtful and intelligent exploration of what this life means to us with in-depth analysis of key philosophical figures. Paperback, 452pp.
Published price: £18
Bibliophile price: £4.25

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ISBN 9781788163866
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