RaveThe Guardian (UK)In lesser hands, Dillon’s essays would have been used simply to make the case for the benefits of close attention. Dillon’s discussion of these photographs forestalls this reading – close attention is one thing. Loving attention, another. And Dillon does love. That shines out from each essay.
PositiveThe Guardian (UK)Through carefully crafted examples, [Setiya] makes the case that philosophy can help us navigate the adversities of human life: pain, loneliness, grief and so on. He, too, is trained in the splitting of hairs. But this is not primarily a book of argument. It is a reflection designed to offer us new ways of thinking about ordinary hardships ... Philosophy’s role here is not primarily analytical. We cannot be argued into coping with suffering. Instead, Setiya’s book is guided by an insight from Iris Murdoch: that philosophical progress often consists of finding new and better ways to describe some stretch of our experience ... And if the prescriptions sometimes seem a little pat, that is a danger inherent to the project. Setiya’s targets are the infirmities of human life in general, but many of the problems that bedevil us are as individual as we are. A philosophy that spoke to our idiosyncratic fears would amount to personalised healthcare. Setiya has his sights on something more fundamental: the problems that afflict us simply by virtue of being human. Any advice offered at such vertiginous levels of generality will always risk sounding platitudinous.
Clare Mac Cumhaill
PositiveThe Guardian\"Metaphysical Animals is both story and argument...The story is a fine one...Elizabeth Anscombe, Iris Murdoch, Philippa Foot and Mary Midgley were students at Oxford during the second world war...They found a world in which many of the men were absent...Those who remained were either too old or too principled to fight...It was a world, as Midgley later put it, where women\'s voices could be heard...The narrative is of four brilliant women finding their voices, opposing received wisdom, and developing an alternative picture of human beings and their place in the world...The authors are friends as well as philosophers and the book is both product and expression of that friendship...Its story underwrites its argument: that philosophical insight is not conveyed primarily by words on a page but through a life lived well...Readers will have to tolerate a certain amount of reconstruction, and the use of \'perhaps\' to mark transitions from one fact to another...But to read this story is to be reminded of the institutional barriers preventing women from studying philosophy, the grit and determination of those who resolve to do it anyway, and the way that life of the mind can be as intense and eventful as friendship itself.\