Ideas to Save Your Life follows Michael McGirr’s much-admired Books that Saved My Life (2018). This time, instead of sharing his love of literature, McGirr shares his love of philosophy, focusing on the works of twenty-plus eminent thinkers across history.
The book goes back to Pythagoras and comes forward to the contemporary Australian Frank Jackson; back to Mungo Woman and forward to Martha Nussbaum, by way of Simone Weil [Chapter 16] and Iris Murdoch. It is animated by two related questions: from where do we draw a sense of life’s purpose? And how can philosophy make life better? It ranges widely across subjects—from solitude to community, language to order, experience to ecstasy, the idea of good to that of a good idea.
McGirr’s approach is warm and inviting. Drawing on his many years of teaching philosophy to teenagers, he shares stories from his life and the lives of others. Ideas to Save Your Life is often funny, but it is always serious about the task of philosophy. It makes the impenetrable accessible, the indescribable palpable, and invites you to change how you see the world.
Text Publishing (2021)
Reviewed by Gregory Day in The Sunday Morning Herald (Dec. 31, 2021)
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Nov. 24, 2021: updated here)
- A. Rebecca Rozelle-Stone: Professor, Philosophy & Religion at the University of North Dakota
- BenjaminP. Davis: Postdoctoral Fellow in Ethics at the Centre for Ethics, at the University of Toronto (Nov. 2021
- A. Rebecca Rozelle-Stone, Simone Weil and Continental Philosophy, Rowman & Littlefield (2019)
- A. Rebecca Rozelle-Stone & Lucian Stone, Simone Weil and Theology, T&T Clark (2013)
- A. Rebecca Rozelle-Stone & Lucian Stone, eds, The Relevance of the Radical: Simone Weil 100 Years Later, Bloomsbury T&T Clark (2009)
In this video, Professor Toril Moi explains the internal editorial process related to her London Review of Books review of Robert Zaretsky’s The Subversive Simone Weil: A Life in Five Ideas (2021). Among several other things, her lecture addressed how her review was framed and how its length had to be shortened — a point directly related to a substantive objection raised in a letter-to-the-editor by Professor Zaretsky.