There’s a certain sort of dry humour behind popular philosophy titles like Aaron James’ Assholes: A Theory and Zen and the Art of Motor Cycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig. To “go on in the same way”, as Wittgenstein would have put it, you must combine a philosophy word with the furthest thing from philosophy, but not just any combination will do. Nobody wants to read Condiments: An Analysis.
A more promising title on the high/low bookshelf is On Being Awesome: A Unified Theory of How Not to Suck, by Nick Riggle. Our reviewer, Anthony Cross, explains that the book theorises about awesomeness as well as being down, having a squad, being wack or chill. And at the negative end of the spectrum, sucking. The key to awesomeness is norm-violation when it comes from creativity and individuality, says Riggle; the person who sucks refuses to go along with it. A book that also philosophises about modern life, but in a completely different key is How to Be a Stoic, by Massimo Pigliucci, reviewed by Skye Cleary. Are stoics awesome? You be the judge.
More traditional questions of philosophy are dealt with in Michael Tye’s new book on consciousness and animal minds, reviewed by Maria Botero. We also offer a review of a new book about philosophy itself. Barbara Hannan discusses her own frustrations with philosophy as well as several of the essays in Philosophy’s Future, edited by Russell Blackford and Damien Broderick.