“A history of philosophy in twelve thinkers…The whole performance combines polyglot philological rigor with supple intellectual sympathy, and it is all presented…in a spirit of fun…This bracing and approachable book [shows] that there is life in philosophy yet.”
—Times Literary Supplement
“Exceptionally engaging…Geuss has a remarkable knack for putting even familiar thinkers in a new light.”
—Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
“Geuss is something like the consummate teacher, his analyses navigable and crystal, his guidance on point.”
—Doug Phillips, Key Reporter
Raymond Geuss explores the ideas of twelve philosophers who broke dramatically with prevailing wisdom, from Socrates and Plato in the ancient world to Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, and Adorno. The result is a striking account of some of the most innovative thinkers in Western history and an indirect manifesto for how to pursue philosophy today. Geuss cautions that philosophers’ attempts to break from convention do not necessarily make the world a better place. Montaigne’s ideas may have been benign, but the fate of those of Hobbes, Hegel, and Nietzsche has been more varied. Yet in the act of provoking people to think differently, philosophers remind us that we are not fated to live within the systems of thought we inherit.
Combines polyglot philological rigor with supple intellectual sympathy, and it is all presented—as Geuss puts it—hilaritatis causa, or in a spirit of fun…This bracing and approachable book [demonstrates] that there is life in philosophy yet.
If one of philosophy’s crucial tasks is to snap us out of complacency and re-frame the parameters of debate, then there is always scope for a roll call of practitioners who have particularly enjoyed inspiring the ‘moment when the gears shift.’ Raymond Geuss defines his splendid book as an ‘intellectually relaxed, essayistic introduction’ to the rule-benders. Big names predominate—Montaigne, Hobbes, Hegel, Nietzsche, et al—but Geuss, who wears his expansive learning lightly, has interesting things to say about them all.
Exceptionally engaging…All of the book’s chapters exhibit an unusually deep understanding of the thinkers they cover. Like a good teacher of philosophy, Geuss goes straight to what he takes to be the heart of the systems of thought he means to explain, without getting lost in scholarly details…Geuss has a remarkable knack for putting even familiar thinkers in a new light…A perfect remedy for harried professional philosophers…[who] sometimes forget why they fell in love with philosophy in the first place.
Geuss is something like the consummate teacher, his analyses navigable and crystal, his guidance on point.
Changing the Subject is the fruit of a long lifetime mastering the subject, and so demonstrates much more than an impressive breadth of scholarship: the work’s structure, style, and often trenchant critical evaluations give expression to a genuinely distinctive and distinguished view of the world.
Geuss is an astute reader and conveys with remarkable clarity, elegance, and wit some of the essential ideas of the authors whose work he is discussing. His thinking is always fresh and provocative, and arises out of a deep engagement with these philosophers.
- 368 pages
- 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
From this author
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