A meditation on the importance of atheism in the modern world - and its inadequacies and contradictions - by one of Britain's leading philosophers
'When you explore older atheisms, you will find some of your firmest convictions - secular or religious - are highly questionable. If this prospect disturbs you, what you are looking for may be freedom from thought.'
For a generation now, public debate has been corroded by a shrill, narrow derision of religion in the name of an often very vaguely understood 'science'. John Gray's stimulating and extremely enjoyable new book describes the rich, complex world of the atheist tradition, a tradition which he sees as in many ways as rich as that of religion itself, as well as being deeply intertwined with what is so often crudely viewed as its 'opposite'.
The result is a book that sheds an extraordinary and varied light on what it is to be human and on the thinkers who have, at different times and places, battled to understand this issue.
'The most prescient of British public intellectuals' Pankaj Mishra, Financial Times
Updated with a new foreword and two new chapters of John Gray's writing.
Why is progress a pernicious myth? Why do beliefs that humanity can be improved end in farce or horror? Is atheism a hangover from Christian faith? John Gray, one of the most iconoclastic thinkers of our time, smashes through civilization's long cherished beliefs, overturning our view of the world and our place in it.
TLS BOOKS OF THE YEAR 2016
'Gray must be one of the best read of contemporary philosophers, trawling insouciantly through high-, middle- and low-brow literature with the sharp-eyed eclecticism of a magpie of genius' John Banville, Guardian
'Like Isaiah Berlin with a thing for sci-fi' Tibor Fischer, Spectator
Everyone thinks they want to be free - or do they? John Gray's thought-stirring new book on freedom draws together insights from Gnosticism, science fiction, ancient sacrifice and the occult to show that freedom is an illusion and that, like fairground puppets, humans dream of escaping the burden of choice altogether.
The powerful, beautiful and chilling sequel to the bestselling Straw Dogs
'By nature volatile and discordant, the human animal looks to silence for relief from being itself while other creatures enjoy silence as their birthright'
Why do humans seek meaning to life? How do our imaginations leap into worlds so far beyond our actual reality? In this chilling and beautiful sequel to Straw Dogs, John Gray explores how we decorate our existence with countless fictions, twisting and turning to avoid acknowledging that we too are animals. Drawing on an extraordinary array of writers who are mesmerized by extremity, from Ballard to Conrad, Gray makes us re-imagine our place in the world.
John Gray's The Immortalization Commission: The Strange Quest to Cheat Death raises vital questions about the 'truths' science can offer, the technology we are still exploiting for immortality - and exactly what it means to be human.
At the heart of all human experience lies our obsession with death. For many years, we turned to religion for our answers, but at the turn of the twentieth centuries ideas from evolution and politics seemed to suggest that our lives - and afterlives - were in our own hands.
These ideas would have both trivial and terrible effects, from the nightmares of H. G. Wells's science fiction and the wild, sweeping craze of séances to the murder of millions in the Stalinist terror.
'Our sharpest critic of utopian fantasies skewers the crazed but enduring dream of cheating age, time and death' <br /> Boyd Tonkin, Independent
'Elegant ... He is on to something important regarding the delusion that science consists of indefinite progress' <br /> Sunday Telegraph
'One of the most important and insightful polemicists currently writing in English... humanism's most vocal critic' <br /> Financial Times
'Gray is an engaging writer, an entertaining historian and a controversialist whose opinions can never be taken for granted' <br /> New Statesman
John Gray has been Professor of Politics at Oxford University, Visiting Professor at Harvard and Yale and Professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics. His books include False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism, Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia and Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals. His selected writings, Gray's Anatomy, was published in 2009.
A prophetic warning against the foolishness of crusades, John Gray's Black Mass challenges our belief in human progress.
Our conventional view of history is wrong. It is founded on a pernicious myth of an achievable utopia that in the last century alone caused the murder of tens of millions.
In Black Mass John Gray tears down the religious, political and secular beliefs that we insist are fundamental to the human project, examines the interaction of terrorism, declining world resources, environmental change, human myths of redemption and a flawed belief in Western democracy, and shows us how a misplaced faith in our ability to improve the world has actually made it far worse.
'Brilliant, frightening, devastating'<br /> John Banville, Guardian
'A brilliant polemic ... Gray's most powerful argument yet'<br /> J.G. Ballard, Guardian, Books of the Year
'Causes vertigo when it does not cause outrage'<br /> Sunday Times
'Exhilarating, invigorating'<br /> Literary Review
'Savage. Gray raises profound and valid doubts about the conventional "plot" of modern history'<br /> Financial Times
'A load of bollocks ... could hardly be more bonkers if it was crawling with lizards'<br /> Sunday Telegraph
John Gray has been Professor of Politics at Oxford University, Visiting Professor at Harvard and Yale and Professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics. His books include False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals and The Immortalization Commission: The Strange Quest to Cheat Death. His selected writings, Gray's Anatomy, was published in 2009.