In Defence of Wonder and Other Philosophical Reflections
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Author(s): Raymond Tallis  
ISBN: 1844655253
ISBN-13: 9781844655250
Publication Date: 26 Apr 2012
Pages: 256 (216 x 138mm)
Format: Paperback
Published Price: £14.99
Discount Price: £11.99
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In these lively and provocative essays, philosopher, polymath and all-round intellectual heavyweight, Raymond Tallis debunks commonplace truths, exposes woolly thinking and pulls the rug from beneath a wide range of commentator whether scientist, theologian, philosopher, or pundit. Tallis takes to task much of contemporary science and philosophy, arguing that they are guilty of taking us down every narrowing conduits of problem solving that only invite ever more complex responses and in doing so have lost sight of "wonder" – the metaphysical intoxication that first gave birth to philosophy 2,500 years ago.

Tallis tackles some meaty topics – memory, time, language, truth, fiction, consciousness – but always with his characteristic verve, insight and wit. These essays showcase Tallis's skill for getting to the heart of the matter and challenging us to see, and wonder, in different ways. Wonder is the proper state of humankind, and as these essays show, it has no more forceful a champion than Raymond Tallis.

"Raymond Tallis manages, in the 27 short essays that form the body of this book, to say much that is true and to say it almost always in an interesting way. Heavy stuff about philosophy's interface with science, time, literature, medicine, religion and death is accessed via Dad's Army, some modern and popular novels, more than you might need to know about the author's follicles and urinary tract, butterflies, Sarah Palin's ignorance and other items from the passing show. This is already no small achievement, and what comes across, on almost every page, are Tallis' enthusiasms for both philosophy and - even greater - for writing itself. And for once the back-cover puffery, where we are told of his 'verve, insight and wit', most definitely hit the mark." – Christopher Belshaw, Times Higher Education

“This collection of essays supplies what has been wanting for some time: an introduction, for the non-specialist reader, that gives some indication of the breadth and depth of Tallis’s work. Tallis is not just a polymath, but a most congenial thinker with whom to exercise one’s intellect.” – The Guardian

"A profound, entertaining and engaging collection." – Church Times

Raymond Tallis trained as a doctor before going on to become Professor of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Manchester. He was elected Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences for his research in clinical neuroscience. He retired from medicine in 2006 to become a full-time writer. He has published over a dozen books of cultural criticism and philosophical anthropology including, most recently, The Kingdom of Infinite Space (2008) and Aping Mankind (Acumen, 2011).

Overture: In Defence of Wonder
1. George Moore’s Hands: Scepticism about Philosophy
2. Zhuangzi and that Bloody Butterfly
3. Rescuing Truth
4. Just a Little Tune I Found in My Mouth
5. A Smile at Waterloo Station: On the True Mystery of Memory
6. The Myth of Time Travel
7. Time, Tense and Physics: The Theory of Everything But...
8. Seeing Time
9. Call No Event Future Until It Is Past
10. On (Almost) Nothing: Concerning Spatial Points
11. An Introduction to Incontinental Philosophy
12. Biological Reasons for Being Cheerful?
13. The Soup and the Scaffolding
14. Don’t Tell Him, Pike!
15. Okey Doke
16. The Professor of Data-Lean Generalisations
17. I Kid You Not: Knowingness and Other Shallows
18. My Bald Head: The Ethics of Hair Splitting
19. Getting Consciousness to Speak Itself: The Great Unmet Challenge of Realistic Fiction
20. Reader, I Sh**ged Him: Reflections on the Decline of the Asterisk
21. Ian McEwan’s Saturday: Does Plausibility Matter?
22. Literature, Philosophy and Medicine: On Anton Chekhov’s Ward No. Six
23. The Mystery and Paradox of Scientific Medicine
24. Enhancing Humanity
25. On Not Choosing the Alternative
26. Making Use of Death
27. Why I Am an Atheist
Coda: Parmenides: the Great Awakening