188 Pages
    by Routledge

    188 Pages
    by Routledge

    In an impassioned defence of the importance of our own thoughts, feelings and experiences, the renowned philosopher Mary Midgley shows that there’s much more to our selves than a jumble of brain cells. Exploring the remarkable gap that has opened up between our understanding of our sense of self and today’s science, Midgley argues powerfully and persuasively that the rich variety of our imaginative life cannot be contained in the narrow bounds of a highly puritanical materialism that simply equates brain and self.

    Engaging with the work of prominent thinkers, Midgley investigates the source of our current attitudes to the self and reveals how ideas, traditions and myths have been twisted to fit in, seemingly naturally, with science’s current preoccupation with the physical and material. Midgley shows that the subjective sources of thought – our own experiences – are every bit as necessary in helping to explain the world as the objective ones such as brain cells.

    Are You an Illusion? offers a salutary analysis of science’s claim to have done away with the self and a characteristic injection of common sense from one of our most respected philosophers into a debate increasingly in need of it.

    This Routledge Classics edition includes a new Foreword by Stephen Cave.

    Foreword to the Routledge Classics Edition Stephen Cave


    Introduction: Are We Losing Ourselves?

    1. Changing Relations to the Cosmos

    2. Sciencephobia and its Sources

    3. Transcendent Numbers: Pythagoras and Plato

    4. What Explanation Is

    5. Why the Idea of Purpose Won't Go Away

    6. Is Sexual Selection Natural?

    7. The Search for Senselessness

    8. The Beasts That Perish

    9. Free Will, Not Just Free Won't

    10. How Divided Selves Live

    11. Hemispheres and Holism

    12. The Supernatural Aspects of Physics

    Conclusion: On Being Still Here.



    Mary Midgley (1919–2018) was one of the leading moral philosophers of her generation and has been described by The Guardian as 'the foremost scourge of scientific pretension in this country'. Many of her books are available in Routledge Classics, including Beast and Man, Wickedness and The Myths We Live By.

    'Midgley manages in just 150 pages to say more than most scholars manage in a lifetime.' – Financial Times

    'A fiercely combative philosopher… our foremost scourge of scientific pretension.' – The Guardian

    'She has, perhaps, the sharpest perception of any living thinker of the dangerous extremism that lurks behind so much contemporary scientistic discourse... Merely as anthologies of contemporary folly, Midgley's books are essential reading.' – The Sunday Times