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Synopsis

21st Century Philosophy uses selected popular texts, all written in the last decade, as a window through which to examine contemporary social and cultural issues. What are the long-term prospects for ‘New Atheism’? On balance, is the United States chiefly a force for good, or is it bent on hegemony? Is the optimism of the Enlightenment a historical curiosity, or can it be revived? To what extent can quality fiction enlarge the modern imagination, and how far are we stuck in a rut of banality? What is the connection between academic ideals and the proliferation of kitsch? What light can Rousseau or Russell, Hume or Heidegger, Schopenhauer or Sartre shed on these sorts of questions - if any? The book consists of eight essays that can be read in any order, with a combined length of over 80,000 words.

The author has a master’s degree and a DPhil, both in Philosophy from Sussex University. His doctoral thesis was examined in viva and passed unconditionally by David McLellan, Emeritus Professor of Political Theory at the University of Kent and author of many standard texts about Marx in English. In 1998, JJ Ward won joint first prize (along with Martha Nussbaum and Lars Gårding) in a philosophical dialogues competition organised by the Humanities Research Centre at Oxford University and the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm. Its subject was Søren Kierkegaard. The dialogue was performed at the Royal Dramatic Theatre, Stockholm, in front of an invited audience, and subsequently published in Comparative Criticism vol. 20 (Cambridge University Press, 1998).

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