A Profound, Original, And Accessible Book That Offers A New Secular Vision Of How We Can Lead Our Lives Ranging From Fundamental Existential Questions To The Most Pressing Social Issues Of Our Time, This Life Shows Why Our Commitment To Freedom And Democracy Should Lead Us Beyond Both Religion And Capitalism.In This Groundbreaking Book, The Philosopher Martin H Gglund Challenges Our Received Notions Of Faith And Freedom The Faith We Need To Cultivate, He Argues, Is Not A Religious Faith In Eternity But A Secular Faith Devoted To Our Finite Life Together He Shows That All Spiritual Questions Of Freedom Are Inseparable From Economic And Material Conditions What Ultimately Matters Is How We Treat One Another In This Life, And What We Do With Our Time Together.H Gglund Develops New Existential And Political Principles While Transforming Our Understanding Of Spiritual Life His Critique Of Religion Takes Us To The Heart Of What It Means To Mourn Our Loved Ones, Be Committed, And Care About A Sustainable World His Critique Of Capitalism Demonstrates That We Fail To Sustain Our Democratic Values Because Our Lives Depend On Wage Labor In Clear And Pathbreaking Terms, H Gglund Explains Why Capitalism Is Inimical To Our Freedom, And Why We Should Instead Pursue A Novel Form Of Democratic Socialism.In Developing His Vision Of An Emancipated Secular Life, H Gglund Engages With Great Philosophers From Aristotle To Hegel And Marx, Literary Writers From Dante To Proust And Knausgaard, Political Economists From Mill To Keynes And Hayek, And Religious Thinkers From Augustine To Kierkegaard AndMartin Luther King, JrThis Life Gives Us New Access To Our Past For The Sake Of A Different Future. A real disappointment I have been a fan of Hagglund s since his early articles and Radical Atheism was a very important book in my young life so I was incredibly excited for this book to arrive If this book was framed simply as a positive vision of a life affirming, secular metaphysics it could have been a real achievement That s what makes this so frustrating the seeds of a great book are all here, but they ve been smothered by several hundred unnecessary pages of Hegel and Hayek As an attempt to expand Hagglund s work to beyond the idea of religion and address the experience of living this life to a popular audience, this doorstop of a tome is a painful failure.The book constantly gets dragged into arguments against religion that make no reference to the actual lived experience of being religious Even as an agnostic who was raised an atheist and has never been religious, the counterarguments seemed obvious and unaddressed The number of people who actual experience religion has solely or primarily a quest for positive infinity is exceptionally slim There is a reason that every popular conception of the Christian heaven includes individuals angels, demons, our ancestors in white robes looking down, experiencing the cutting of time much like we do Since the whole book is spent sparring with Kierkegaard and company, it ends up having very little to say about the living this life for most of the billions on this earth. Being is time and time is finite. The being that we care most about is human being or any being that can take a stand on its own understanding, the most important being in the universe H gglund wrote a marvelous book which unpacks that italicized sentence for the reader I m going to explain why I thought this was such a marvelous and necessary book for today s reader, but, I need to mention first that I listened to it on audio and therefore didn t get the footnotes as I was listening and that led to a disconnect until I glanced at the index on.Heidegger s Being and Time is my favorite book by far and my second favorite book is Hegel s Phenomenology of Mind Spirit I couldn t for the life of me figure out why the author had not mention Heidegger until I looked at the footnotes on His footnotes explain a that he is currently writing a book elaborating on BT and b he mentions those two books and Hegel s Logic as three of his most important books I love being a human In particular I love being a secular human That is a person who thinks life is important because of the meaning I choose to give to it and as an individual within a group who requires another in order to exist as an end for its own end not as a means to an end That s close to how the author explains what it means to be a secular human I will digress just a little in order to explain what I mean According to H gglund, in the sixth volume of Karl Ove Knausg rd s My Struggle he mentions that in Adolph Hitler s book Mein Kempf German for My Struggle Hitler only speaks of the I , the we and the they and never speaks of the you i.e individuals such as me or you When he told me that, I realized that Donald Trump does that same thing That s why Trump can call people animals and varmints and such as he did yesterday 4 5 2019 That means for a narcissist like Trump and his enablers they do not need another in order to validate their own existence and ultimately their sense of self is lacking a characteristic of being a human since the others for them will always be an animal or varmint This book doesn t fully take the argument this far, but for those who are interested The Bernstein Tapes of the course Phenomenology of Spirit does and I would recommend anyone listen to those tapes for the best source out there on PoS except for Hegel s book itself Btw, and since this is a digression anyways, I started reading My Struggle and absolutely love it so far, and as this author will mention Proust s In Search of Lost Time is foundational for My Struggle This author, H gglund connects many various pieces in his story telling H gglund will say My Struggle is all about the you of the reader through the I of the author and I would add through the life of the everyday where the everyday starts off as the human experience of being in the world proximally and for the most part by understanding itself in terms of its world as the world reveals itself as itself and not as a Self outside itself I cheated, I took a sentence for my review of Critique of Everyday Life , by Lefebvre, a Marxist, and this author too definitely has a Marxist way of thinking When Jesus said, Do unto others as you would have them do unto you there are three ways one can take that statement 1 a divine command from God and true since God said it was and Truth, Good and Justice are what God says they are, 2 as a moral truth worthy of consideration since it s reasonable and possible to defend a variation of it, or 3 just ignore it For those who accept 1, the religious, they are outsourcing their beliefs outside of themselves and are the most nihilistic ones of all since they have no meaning within themselves or for themselves as an end for an end in themselves and they become to themselves and for themselves only as an means to an end for a promised or hoped for, or wished for, or some other asserted but not supported by empirical evidence supernatural desire in an afterlife or karmic resolution For those who lean towards 2, the secular, they find there meaning through deserving considerations based on a finite world of which they inhabit, and for the third class of people who ignore it, I ll just ignore them because who cares what they think Plato s Euthyphro gets at this from a slightly different way I wanted to mention some cool discussions that the author had on the absolute goal of detachment the Buddhist strive for, and similarly for the stoics with their acceptance of circumstances that leads to a need for no meaning, purpose or freedom for an individual and the author advocates attachment as the worthy goal There are also some wonderful summations on various writings by Kierkegaard and how Kierkegaard really does understand the trap that the finite finds themselves in and ultimately how irony paradox is jealous of the authentic this author doesn t use that quote, I did just because it is a quick way to summarize his long discussion on Kierkegaard Hegel, Spinoza, Marx, Adorno Frankfurt School , Piketty Capital in the 21st Century , a book for which I loved, but this author doesn t seem to like him nearly as much as I did and various other familiar thinkers are all eruditely discussed The author will argue that because we are finite we have meaning If we were infinite and knew it with certainty there would be no necessity and hence no freedom Our freedom to act and choose is what gives us our meaning, purpose and caring Caring is a loaded word and I used it purposely because in BT Heidegger will use it as the foundation for human being Dasein , and within the word is a tacit acknowledgement of the future as the ontological foundation for our being leading to always becoming until being unto death Shortly after BT Heidegger will pivot to will for his ontological foundation, but Heidegger being Heidegger will always act as if that he meant that all along and won t explicitly acknowledge the change For a good discussion on this I would recommend Hannah Arendt s Life of the Mind btw, this author didn t seem to like Arendt or at least quickly dismissed her at one spot in his book , and for an even better discussion on Heidegger s change from care to will I would recommend Fynsk s Heidegger Thought and Historicity Marx critiques capitalism and liberalism through an immanent critique, and will show that capitalism and liberalism must be inadequate through their own assumptions according to this author, and for example, value is than just capitalist surplus value through exploitation and alienation of the labor workers , but also needs to include our social values and spiritual values We need a reevaluation of value for today where, for example, unemployment should not be just a way for Capitalist to exploit labor by paying lower wages and exploiting all labor to demand lower wages and so on towards a downward spiral against labor, but we need to value individuals beyond their surplus profit potential I ll even say that, if machines and super AI replace the workers by making them redundant the right attitude is that we need to see beyond just making the already insanely rich even richer we can find a better way by enabling unemployed or underutilized labor to actualize themselves as individuals and as social beings and reevaluate our values by valuing social well being above unequal distribution of wealth This author will recommend a Democratic Socialist alternative to capitalism and neo liberalism as a viable approach for achieving a just society Hegel always moves in three movements, the thesis, antithesis and the synthesis, for example, stoic, skeptic to unhappy consciousness as a movement Each of the first two movements are immanently unstable i.e they can t coherently stand by themselves without internal contradiction and will lead to the unhappy consciousness i.e Christianity or Religion which requires the infinite an outsourcing of meaning therefore the ultimate in nihilism.Trump and his enablers are not able to transcend the world from which they were thrown into They do not recognize anyone who is not them and therefore have no way of understanding themselves in order to get beyond their capitalism liberalism absolutist mindset This book is for those who are capable of understanding that the I needs a you in addition to another them , and our meaning, purpose, care and freedom require understanding the paradox of outsourcing our beliefs and meaning to the infinite Actualizing human being requires participating both as an individual and socially, and optimizing our spiritual values beyond just material well being that does not rely on an infinite horizon To properly actualize our meaning as being one needs to realize thatbeing is time and time is finite Incredible, programmatic, interdisciplinary analysis of our diminished lives under capitalism and religion, and the emancipatory possibilities under democratic socialism.Possibly the best book I ve ever read integrating our spiritual lives with our political commitments into a coherent humanist call to action I will be interviewing the author this week for my podcast Stay tuned at www.lifeaftergod.org. This is an engaging, intellectually rich, focused book, making the argument that human, lived time is central to human identity and the social world The positive arguments about the finitude of human life and inevitability and importance of loss, suffering and boredom about the practical making of projects and practical identities through not only individual commitments and efforts but social norms and institutions and about the necessity of a radical critique of capitalist value and social transformation were excellent The explications of texts and important thinkers, including Augustine, Knausgaard, Kierkegaard, Hegel, Marx, Adorno, MLK, were valuable His distinction between social democracy, a political economy of redistributive public policy within capitalism, and democratic socialism, a replacement of capitalist political economy by structures and processes that value self determined life time, is theoretically valuable However, the reduction of religion and religious faith to a belief in eternal life is problematic The text fails to convey how diverse religious practices are, how many religious believers live in the world, why religious practice and secular faith are not exclusive of but may reinforce each other, and how some progressive Christians interpret the Bible as a story of human freedom The author changes somewhat his presentation of religion in his ending discussion of Martin Luther King and the U.S civil rights movement Here he acknowledges that religion is not simply belief in eternity but also practices in the book generally when it comes to religion, he singles out one key belief but when he talks about secular commitment and practical identity he talks about practices and even institutions However, he sticks to his position that when religious believers are advocating political and economic projects and drawing upon the deep relationships and solidarities within communities of believers they are not practicing religion but secular faith.