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In Feline Philosophy, the philosopher John Gray discovers in cats a way of living that is unburdened by anxiety and self-consciousness, showing how they embody answers to the big questions of love and attachment, mortality, morality, and the Self: Montaigne's house cat, whose un-examined life may have been the one worth living; Meo, the Vietnam War survivor with an unshaka In Feline Philosophy, the philosopher John Gray discovers in cats a way of living that is unburdened by anxiety and self-consciousness, showing how they embody answers to the big questions of love and attachment, mortality, morality, and the Self: Montaigne's house cat, whose un-examined life may have been the one worth living; Meo, the Vietnam War survivor with an unshakable capacity for fearless joy; and Colette's Saha, the feline heroine of her subversive short story The Cat, a parable about the pitfalls of human jealousy. Exploring the nature of cats, and what we can learn from it, Gray offers a profound, thought-provoking meditation on the follies of human exceptionalism and our fundamentally vulnerable and lonely condition. He charts a path toward a life without illusions and delusions, revealing how we can endure both crisis and transformation, and adapt to a changed scene, as cats have always done.


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In Feline Philosophy, the philosopher John Gray discovers in cats a way of living that is unburdened by anxiety and self-consciousness, showing how they embody answers to the big questions of love and attachment, mortality, morality, and the Self: Montaigne's house cat, whose un-examined life may have been the one worth living; Meo, the Vietnam War survivor with an unshaka In Feline Philosophy, the philosopher John Gray discovers in cats a way of living that is unburdened by anxiety and self-consciousness, showing how they embody answers to the big questions of love and attachment, mortality, morality, and the Self: Montaigne's house cat, whose un-examined life may have been the one worth living; Meo, the Vietnam War survivor with an unshakable capacity for fearless joy; and Colette's Saha, the feline heroine of her subversive short story The Cat, a parable about the pitfalls of human jealousy. Exploring the nature of cats, and what we can learn from it, Gray offers a profound, thought-provoking meditation on the follies of human exceptionalism and our fundamentally vulnerable and lonely condition. He charts a path toward a life without illusions and delusions, revealing how we can endure both crisis and transformation, and adapt to a changed scene, as cats have always done.

30 review for Feline Philosophy: Cats and the Meaning of Life

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lou

    In Feline Philosophy, John Gray turns his attention to cats―and what they reveal about humans' torturous relationship to the world and to themselves. The history of philosophy has been a predictably tragic or comical succession of palliatives for human disquiet. Thinkers from Spinoza to Berdyaev have pursued the perennial questions of how to be happy, how to be good, how to be loved, and how to live in a world of change and loss. But perhaps we can learn more from cats--the animal that has most In Feline Philosophy, John Gray turns his attention to cats―and what they reveal about humans' torturous relationship to the world and to themselves. The history of philosophy has been a predictably tragic or comical succession of palliatives for human disquiet. Thinkers from Spinoza to Berdyaev have pursued the perennial questions of how to be happy, how to be good, how to be loved, and how to live in a world of change and loss. But perhaps we can learn more from cats--the animal that has most captured our imagination--than from the great thinkers of the world. Philosopher Gray discovers in cats a way of living that is unburdened by anxiety and self-consciousness, showing how they embody answers to the big questions of love and attachment, mortality, morality, and the Self: Montaigne's house cat, whose un-examined life may have been the one worth living; Meo, the Vietnam War survivor with an unshakable capacity for "fearless joy"; and Colette's Saha, the feline heroine of her subversive short story "The Cat", a parable about the pitfalls of human jealousy. Exploring the nature of cats, and what we can learn from it, Gray offers a profound, thought-provoking meditation on the follies of human exceptionalism and our fundamentally vulnerable and lonely condition. He charts a path toward a life without illusions and delusions, revealing how we can endure both crisis and transformation, and adapt to a changed scene, as cats have always done. This is a fascinating, engrossing and intriguing book which is accessible and presents so much food for thought that I know I'll be thinking about it for a long time to come. Highly recommended. Many thanks to Allen Lane for an ARC.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Steven

    "Cats have no need of philosophy. Obeying their nature, they are content with the life it gives them. In humans, on the other hand, discontent with their nature seems to be natural. With predictably tragic and farcical results, the human animal never ceases striving to be something that it is not. Cats make no such effort. Much of human life is a struggle for happiness. Among cats, on the other hand, happiness is the state to which they default when practical threats to their well-being are rem "Cats have no need of philosophy. Obeying their nature, they are content with the life it gives them. In humans, on the other hand, discontent with their nature seems to be natural. With predictably tragic and farcical results, the human animal never ceases striving to be something that it is not. Cats make no such effort. Much of human life is a struggle for happiness. Among cats, on the other hand, happiness is the state to which they default when practical threats to their well-being are removed. That may be the chief reason many of us love cats. They possess as their birthright a felicity humans regularly fail to attain." (2)When I saw that John Gray was coming out with a new book called Feline Philosophy: Cats and the Meaning of Life, I pre-ordered it right away. I mean, a book about cats and philosophy? Always. It's not very long, and while it's a little underwhelming on the philosophical side of things (e.g., Gray seems to conflate consciousness and rationality), it is on the whole entertaining, at times touching and thought-provoking. Especially, of course, if you love cats. Gray focuses some of his pet subjects (pun intended), particularly that of the relation of humans beings to other animals, which he covers in works like Straw Dogs and The Silence of Animals, on cats—the perfect model for Gray of a kind of creature that, unlike us humans, is not anxiously self-conscious and perpetually concerned with the (thwarted) state of their own happiness. The book becomes a little self-helpy at the end, but I didn't mind that much. One of the nicest things about reading Gray, here as elsewhere, is the range of new works to which he manages to introduce you.

  3. 4 out of 5

    James

    Cats are happy being themselves, while humans try to be happy by escaping themselves. 2.5 stars — Imagine an Intro to Philosophy course taught by an eccentric professor who really, REALLY loves cats. Might be cute and endearing for the first couple weeks, but by the time midterms roll around, all the cat stories begin to grow a bit tiresome. British philosopher John Gray serves up an engaging enough "sampler platter" of philosophy, history, and literature to argue that we could all learn a Cats are happy being themselves, while humans try to be happy by escaping themselves. 2.5 stars — Imagine an Intro to Philosophy course taught by an eccentric professor who really, REALLY loves cats. Might be cute and endearing for the first couple weeks, but by the time midterms roll around, all the cat stories begin to grow a bit tiresome. British philosopher John Gray serves up an engaging enough "sampler platter" of philosophy, history, and literature to argue that we could all learn a thing or two from cats when it comes to the age-old philosophical questions about the best way to live: Cats have no need of philosophy. Obeying their nature, they are content with the life it gives them. In humans, on the other hand, discontent with their nature seems to be natural. With predictably tragic and farcical results, the human animal never ceases striving to be something that it is not. Cats make no such effort.... If cats could understand the human search for meaning they would purr with delight at its absurdity. As you can probably tell from these quotes, this is a playful, provocative, and surprisingly accessible read, and Gray's observations about cats will no doubt be both funny and familiar to anyone with a beloved cat in their life. But while I might envy my cat Marley's simple, mostly care-free existence from time to time, it's hardly a life I'd ever aspire to live for myself. Gray's reflections eventually turn into a treatise against humanism and liberalism that I found occasionally thought-provoking, sometimes troubling, and ultimately unrealistic. Only recommended, with reservations, to true cat lovers in the mood for a quick refresher course in modern philosophy from a unique, feline-focused point of view.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Murtaza

    I keep reading John Gray's books not necessarily for new information but out of a sort of habitual homage to him for writing the life-changing Straw Dogs so many years ago. This book is a not-entirely convincing entreaty for human beings to adopt more of the psychological habits of cats. Gray could have substituted any animal here but cats are attractive and familiar: even the cover of this short book is endearing and makes you want to pick it up. Unlike all other animals, human beings feel a ne I keep reading John Gray's books not necessarily for new information but out of a sort of habitual homage to him for writing the life-changing Straw Dogs so many years ago. This book is a not-entirely convincing entreaty for human beings to adopt more of the psychological habits of cats. Gray could have substituted any animal here but cats are attractive and familiar: even the cover of this short book is endearing and makes you want to pick it up. Unlike all other animals, human beings feel a need to have meaning in their lives. For the religious this is a clue that humans are not mere animals, whereas Gray, an atheist who nonetheless is perhaps the most metaphysical atheist I've ever read, this is in fact proof of our own delusion and a sentiment that we must overcome. Why we've been granted this unique burden is never explained. The key difference between us and cats is that we feel a need to create a story about our own lives and live up to it. Cats merely live and enjoy events as they come, without feeling the pain of not living up to any particular role or expectation. They may suffer, but they don't experience that suffering as a tragedy, and that is the key difference. Ceasing to try and fit our favored stories onto reality and simply accepting that reality is one of the keys to actually enjoying life, and it is here that I can agree with Gray despite our divergent first principles. The power of stories, both on the individual and societal level, can become an illusion powerful enough to truly blind. This book is a lot less about cats than the title seems to suggest. It is in fact a round up of a bunch of interesting things that Gray collected from various philosophers and gave a cat theme. Probably a nice gift for an educated cat aficionado but not necessary reading if one has read Gray's other works.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Skallagrimsen

    Feline Philosophy is a short book by John Gray about the nature of cats, how it differs from human nature, and what humans can learn from it. Of his previous books, it most overlaps with The Silence of the Animals, but compresses its insights through the lens a single, intimate example: the common housecat. What emerges is a book that is more accessible, more moving, and even more practical than its predecessor. As with all Gray’s work, Feline Philosophy is also beautifully written and supported Feline Philosophy is a short book by John Gray about the nature of cats, how it differs from human nature, and what humans can learn from it. Of his previous books, it most overlaps with The Silence of the Animals, but compresses its insights through the lens a single, intimate example: the common housecat. What emerges is a book that is more accessible, more moving, and even more practical than its predecessor. As with all Gray’s work, Feline Philosophy is also beautifully written and supported by immense scholarship. Gray begins by examining the long shared history of humans and cats. He notes the extreme range of emotions that cats have provoked in people across time and geography, from the adulation of the ancient Egyptians, who worshipped cats as gods, to hatred and fear in the case of Medieval Europeans, who associated cats with evil spirits and often tortured and killed them as public amusements. The very characteristics that endear cats to some people, he suggests, are the same that cause others to revile them. One's reaction to cats says a great deal about an individual, or a society. Unlike dogs, or indeed humans themselves, cats are not pack animals with settled hierarchies; they do not bow down to alphas or masters, nor form herds, flocks or congregations. This sense of independence exuded by cats intrigues or infuriates humans according to their own dispositions. “At bottom,” Gray writes, “hatred of cats may be an expression of envy. Many human beings lead lives of muffled misery...Cat hatred is very often the self-hatred of misery-sodden human beings redirected against creatures they know are not unhappy.” This is the key insight that unlocks the theme of Feline Philosophy. Cats, according to Gray, have a natural sense of what the ancient Greeks called “ataraxia,” or tranquility. When their immediate physical needs are met they are content to be themselves--unlike humans, who are perpetually dissatisfied, haunted by abstractions, and always pursuing some elusive thing beyond their grasp. Cats lack the consolations of philosophy because they have no need of philosophy. “Philosophy,” he writes, “is a disease that offers itself as a cure.” Cats, it would seem, are altogether healthier animals than humans. “If cats could understand the human search for meaning they would purr with delight at its absurdity. Life as the cat they happen to be is meaning enough for them.” In a word, we humans would be happier if only we could learn to be more like cats. I agree.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    Two of my favourite things in life are books and cats, and I have also had a lifelong interest in philosophy, so when this little book crossed my path, I jumped at it. While perfect for those like me with a fascination for both cats and philosophy, I think it is also suitable for those with an interest in just one of those subjects. For those new to philosophy, this book is written in such an accessible and engaging way you are sure to enjoy it, and find much to ponder. If you love philosophy but Two of my favourite things in life are books and cats, and I have also had a lifelong interest in philosophy, so when this little book crossed my path, I jumped at it. While perfect for those like me with a fascination for both cats and philosophy, I think it is also suitable for those with an interest in just one of those subjects. For those new to philosophy, this book is written in such an accessible and engaging way you are sure to enjoy it, and find much to ponder. If you love philosophy but not necessarily cats, I think you would still find the sections on the philosophy of cats quite illuminating and thought provoking - and with a new respect for our feline companions. "Sleep for the joy of sleeping. Sleeping so that you can work harder when you wake up is a miserable way to live. Sleep for pleasure, not profit." The first half of the book deals more with philosophy, with the cat stories and feline philosophy discussion taking up much of the second half, Included are many little stories about famous and not so famous cats which serve to illustrate what it is about the feline life philosophy that we as humans could learn from. "Humans are humans, cats are cats. The difference is that while cats have nothing to learn from us, we can learn from them how to lighten the load that comes with being human. One burden we can give up is the idea that there could be a perfect life. It is not that our lives are inevitably imperfect. Our lives are richer than any idea of perfection. The good life is not a life you might have led or may yet lead, but the life you already have. Here, cats can be our teachers, for they do not miss the lives they have not lived." Without doubt this absolute gem is my favourite non fiction book of 2020, and definitely the kindle book with my most highlighting and notes ever!

  7. 5 out of 5

    şahan

    Much better if the author rather wrote a shorter (literary) essay. I don't get the idea of giving info: of certain philosophers, events, much of the time in detail. The good and important parts (parts concerning cats and our mentality) we get by skimming. This is not a bad book, but a good idea turned into a soulless book, without pondering its own possibilities. Much better if the author rather wrote a shorter (literary) essay. I don't get the idea of giving info: of certain philosophers, events, much of the time in detail. The good and important parts (parts concerning cats and our mentality) we get by skimming. This is not a bad book, but a good idea turned into a soulless book, without pondering its own possibilities.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kent Winward

    Meow

  9. 4 out of 5

    A

    too much philosophy, not enough cat

  10. 5 out of 5

    Vivienne

    My thanks to Penguin Books U.K. - Allen Lane for an eARC via NetGalley of ‘Feline Philosophy: Cats and the Meaning of Life’ by John Gray in exchange for an honest review. I adore cats and so was immediately drawn to the description of this book even if I am not that well versed in philosophy. I found it quite accessible. “When I play with my cat, how do I know she is not passing time with me rather than I with her?” - Montaigne In this amazing book John Gray examines the philosophical and moral is My thanks to Penguin Books U.K. - Allen Lane for an eARC via NetGalley of ‘Feline Philosophy: Cats and the Meaning of Life’ by John Gray in exchange for an honest review. I adore cats and so was immediately drawn to the description of this book even if I am not that well versed in philosophy. I found it quite accessible. “When I play with my cat, how do I know she is not passing time with me rather than I with her?” - Montaigne In this amazing book John Gray examines the philosophical and moral issues around the unique relationship between humans and cats. Gray points out that there is no evidence that humans ever domesticated cats though plenty that cats were the ones to make the decision to be domesticated. This is something obvious to anyone who has ever been adopted by a cat. He includes a number of inspiring anecdotes about individual cats. However, I will admit that some of the accounts of historical anti-cat practices were distressing and made me both angry and sad. While quite a short book Gray covers a great deal of territory within its pages. He weaves in the ideas of various philosophers creating an enjoyable and thought-provoking work. I was especially impressed with the chapter ‘Ten Feline Hints on How to Live Well’. I read some passages aloud to my cat and she agreed with me that it was a five paw read! I also think that it would be a fun and unusual gift for philosophically minded cat lovers.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Heather Moss

    This review is in exchange for a complimentary ARC from NetGalley. I love cats, but I've always had trouble getting into philosophy. I thought this book would be a good way to make sense of concepts that are so difficult for me. I was mostly right, although there are long passages where cats are not invoked at all, and those sections didn't hold my attention as well. The book is really about humans, not cats, but I was very interested in the numerous feline-related anecdotes that came from real l This review is in exchange for a complimentary ARC from NetGalley. I love cats, but I've always had trouble getting into philosophy. I thought this book would be a good way to make sense of concepts that are so difficult for me. I was mostly right, although there are long passages where cats are not invoked at all, and those sections didn't hold my attention as well. The book is really about humans, not cats, but I was very interested in the numerous feline-related anecdotes that came from real life and from literature. The book is very serious, not fun and frivolous pop philosophy along the lines of Robert Fulghum. I learned about different schools of thought, from classical philosophy through modern thinkers. It would make a nice gift for the contemplative cat lover in your life.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jim Coughenour

    Let’s start with the celebrated Montaigne quote: When I am playing with my cat, how do I know that she is not playing with me? That’s exactly the playful, skeptical spirit in which this book is composed. If you enjoy watching your cat bat a ball of string back and forth, you might relish Feline Philosophy. Or if you want a fast, amusing overview of how John Gray thinks. Readers of Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals, The Silence of Animals: On Progress and Other Modern Myths or Seven Let’s start with the celebrated Montaigne quote: When I am playing with my cat, how do I know that she is not playing with me? That’s exactly the playful, skeptical spirit in which this book is composed. If you enjoy watching your cat bat a ball of string back and forth, you might relish Feline Philosophy. Or if you want a fast, amusing overview of how John Gray thinks. Readers of Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals, The Silence of Animals: On Progress and Other Modern Myths or Seven Types of Atheism won’t find anything new in these pages but that’s hardly a criticism, as reading John Gray is a kind of tonic. And here the medicine is sweetened by wayward reflections on the nature of cats. “Cats have no interest in teaching human beings how to live, and if they did they would not do so by issuing commandments. They would offer their suggestions playfully, as a form of entertainment for themselves and the human beings who received them.” This is sheer nonsense and made even better by the Ten Commandments Gray comes up with on cats’ behalf. I won’t list them because – why? – it’s more fun to encounter them after reading what’s come before. There is a deep silliness to the whole enterprise. Cat lovers and everyday philosophers will find much to applaud. But I’ll leave you with one cat treat: Eternity is not another order of things but the world seen without anxiety. PS: If you’re curious, the Montaigne quote comes from the very long essay “An Apology for Raymond Sebond” and it’s also the title for Saul Frampton’s appreciation of Montaigne.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Glenn

    In spite of its title premise, this slim volume is in no way jocular. (Which is not to say that the book and its author are humorless.) Rather, it puts forward a proposition for happiness, which consists of not chasing it. Acceptance is the key, but not a willed acceptance — the idea is to consider the innate acceptance of the feline. To this end, Gray cites, and argues with, Pascal, Spinoza, Descartes, the post-modernists and more. He resourcefully explores texts by Lessing, Gaitskill, and othe In spite of its title premise, this slim volume is in no way jocular. (Which is not to say that the book and its author are humorless.) Rather, it puts forward a proposition for happiness, which consists of not chasing it. Acceptance is the key, but not a willed acceptance — the idea is to consider the innate acceptance of the feline. To this end, Gray cites, and argues with, Pascal, Spinoza, Descartes, the post-modernists and more. He resourcefully explores texts by Lessing, Gaitskill, and others. Stimulating and inspiring, it's worth reading even if you think you don't like cats.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Griffin

    Quick read that discusses a little about cats and a whole lot about old men’s philosophies.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Wayne

    This book starts beautifully with memoirs accounts of a soldier in the Vietnam War taking on a small kitten. It gets a little difficult in the middle of the book, but the end is wonderful, with some really inspiring take aways. Cats fully accept and embrace the life they are given: "The good life is the life you already have" This book starts beautifully with memoirs accounts of a soldier in the Vietnam War taking on a small kitten. It gets a little difficult in the middle of the book, but the end is wonderful, with some really inspiring take aways. Cats fully accept and embrace the life they are given: "The good life is the life you already have"

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nikki

    If you're looking for a book regarding cats and all their glory, this isn't it. Nor does it help us learn how they think or feel. I'd say 85% of this book is philosophical discussions w/ a few cat stories thrown in for good measure so that the Feline could be used in the title. And if you love cats (like I do), you probably don't want to read the cruelties inflicted upon them by humans through the years. Luckily, it's not long and I suppose there are a few comparisons of how cats deal with life If you're looking for a book regarding cats and all their glory, this isn't it. Nor does it help us learn how they think or feel. I'd say 85% of this book is philosophical discussions w/ a few cat stories thrown in for good measure so that the Feline could be used in the title. And if you love cats (like I do), you probably don't want to read the cruelties inflicted upon them by humans through the years. Luckily, it's not long and I suppose there are a few comparisons of how cats deal with life as opposed to the way humans live. I just wouldn't recommend this book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ula

    Cats are popular and cute, same as many books devoted to them. Thankfully, this is not the case. Not knowing the author, I expected some light anecdotes and notes on cats' behavior. Instead, I received a fascinating tour through the history of philosophy and I was left thinking about the meaning of life - both human and feline. Despite the title, humans are in the center of this essay; nonetheless, it is one of the best books about cats' nature. I was not surprised that Gray is quoting two of my Cats are popular and cute, same as many books devoted to them. Thankfully, this is not the case. Not knowing the author, I expected some light anecdotes and notes on cats' behavior. Instead, I received a fascinating tour through the history of philosophy and I was left thinking about the meaning of life - both human and feline. Despite the title, humans are in the center of this essay; nonetheless, it is one of the best books about cats' nature. I was not surprised that Gray is quoting two of my favorite feline books: "The Lion in the Living Room" and "The Tribe of Tiger: Cats and Their Culture". You can see that author has a deep knowledge and understanding of animals, even if I don’t agree with all his views. It is a slow read, but very pleasant, with beautiful language and provocative insights. I recommend it to everyone who likes to think. Thanks to the publisher, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and NetGalley for the advance copy of this book.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Peter Geyer

    John Gray is one of those writers who makes you think, even when making a passing comment. If you're someone like me, writing in and around cats is both appealing and intriguing. He takes several perspectives: stories, histories, religious and cultural aspects among them. Inevitably, Gray makes a comparison of cats and dogs regarding relationships with humans, a theme of the book, where his understanding of the different characteristics displayes parallels my experience and observations. A key poi John Gray is one of those writers who makes you think, even when making a passing comment. If you're someone like me, writing in and around cats is both appealing and intriguing. He takes several perspectives: stories, histories, religious and cultural aspects among them. Inevitably, Gray makes a comparison of cats and dogs regarding relationships with humans, a theme of the book, where his understanding of the different characteristics displayes parallels my experience and observations. A key point he wishes to make is that cats appear to just live life, without applying any meaning to it and he juxtaposes this with ideas of human purpose including the somewhat prevalent search for happiness. In this area, the idea of being yourself, as opposed to being whatever you want to be – which he limits to postmodernism but could easily be applied to the corporate and self-help fields – is recommended as more natural, something which personally appeals. This is a slim text, and you can read it in a couple of hours. It's pretty relaxing except for descriptions of the appalling treatment of cats in the not so distant past. I'd even consider re-reading it, which is something I very rarely think about.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Marcus

    I’m a big fan of John Gray’s work (Straw Dogs being particularly notable) so I was happy to receive an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley. Whilst short it will engage and challenge readers with the usual mix of Gray themes, commonly using literature and history to flesh out arguments. Here we explore philosophy, comparing the independent ease of being that cats seem to hold to the neurotic discomfort of the human condition. Expect attacks on anthropocentrism, delusions and human arrogance I’m a big fan of John Gray’s work (Straw Dogs being particularly notable) so I was happy to receive an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley. Whilst short it will engage and challenge readers with the usual mix of Gray themes, commonly using literature and history to flesh out arguments. Here we explore philosophy, comparing the independent ease of being that cats seem to hold to the neurotic discomfort of the human condition. Expect attacks on anthropocentrism, delusions and human arrogance. One point I found a little weak was the introductory conceit he recycled from an old BBC Points of View piece that referenced a vegan attempting to “teach” his ethics to a cat. This isn’t really the case, rather the guardian is taking responsibility for the demands of a domesticated animal under their care by providing alternative sources, whilst supplying the same nutrition. I.e. supplementary taurine that is added to all cat foods whether animal or plant sourced.

  20. 5 out of 5

    David Arnett

    A unique blend of philosophy scattered with witty remarks. Cats don't have a self and hence are no bound to the limits of already humans. We have a self and hence are tied to the complications surrounding that self. It is a philosophical look into that core statement. Interesting if you are a cat lover. A unique blend of philosophy scattered with witty remarks. Cats don't have a self and hence are no bound to the limits of already humans. We have a self and hence are tied to the complications surrounding that self. It is a philosophical look into that core statement. Interesting if you are a cat lover.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Zulekha Saqib

    'Cats have no need of philosophy. Obeying their nature, they are content with the life it gives them. In humans, on the other hand, discontent with their nature seems to be natural. With predictably tragic and farcical results, the human animal never ceases striving to be something that it is not. Cats make no such effort. Much of human life is a struggle for happiness. Among cats, on the other hand, happiness is the state to which they default when practical threats to their well-being are remo 'Cats have no need of philosophy. Obeying their nature, they are content with the life it gives them. In humans, on the other hand, discontent with their nature seems to be natural. With predictably tragic and farcical results, the human animal never ceases striving to be something that it is not. Cats make no such effort. Much of human life is a struggle for happiness. Among cats, on the other hand, happiness is the state to which they default when practical threats to their well-being are removed. That may be the chief reason many of us love cats. They possess as their birthright a felicity humans regularly fail to attain.' I mean, cats and what we can learn from them - this book has my name written all over it..

  22. 5 out of 5

    Charliecat

    John Gray is a provocative writer who seems to delight in rubbishing every belief you may hold dear. He returns to his usual stomping ground of dissing every philosophical tradition you can think of (though he has a bit of a soft spot for Montaigne, the Buddha and Pascal). The USP here is that he contrasts the nonsense we humans get up to, with domestic cats, whom he considers wiser, saner and certainly ' happier'. I find him both stimulating and infuriating at the same time and in equal measure. John Gray is a provocative writer who seems to delight in rubbishing every belief you may hold dear. He returns to his usual stomping ground of dissing every philosophical tradition you can think of (though he has a bit of a soft spot for Montaigne, the Buddha and Pascal). The USP here is that he contrasts the nonsense we humans get up to, with domestic cats, whom he considers wiser, saner and certainly ' happier'. I find him both stimulating and infuriating at the same time and in equal measure. I say domestic cats, but Gray does not consider such cats to be domesticated; unlike dogs, they have not been unconsciously selectively bred for 1000s of years to be like us. Cats can take us or leave us. They are perfect within themselves; the very idea of a cat having a philosophy is laughable. The cat is, of course, a proxy for all wild sentient beings aside from humans who are cursed with self consciousness. The book is a jolly romp, but he does say one thing which bought me up short. When we engage with a cat, he says, we forget we are human. We are both just animals interacting with one another. I love raptors, and have handled and flown them a few times, and this what I feel when I have, say, a Peregrine on my wrist and we look at one another. I am transported out of my human condition - it is almost a state of grace. Odd that a book full of words about philosophy should rely on emotion for its impact. But no, as he says, you can't reason your way out of unhappiness. Recommended, unless you are easily annoyed.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Apollinaire

    Cats "have no images of themselves they seek to preserve and augment." Imagine how much less ridiculous human beings would be if they followed suit. In "feline ethics" virtue is "selflessly being [oneself]." Though Gray is characterizing cat nature, he is quick to say that part of that nature is that this animal is more baldly, more entirely particular in her character than humans could ever hope to be. Cats are so minimally socialized that you are not getting the glaze of adherence the way you m Cats "have no images of themselves they seek to preserve and augment." Imagine how much less ridiculous human beings would be if they followed suit. In "feline ethics" virtue is "selflessly being [oneself]." Though Gray is characterizing cat nature, he is quick to say that part of that nature is that this animal is more baldly, more entirely particular in her character than humans could ever hope to be. Cats are so minimally socialized that you are not getting the glaze of adherence the way you might with dogs. So when you love a cat, it is not some generalized love of a species, it's an adoration for a particular individual. What a relief to have someone smarter than me re the issue of species articulate what I've found so offensive about people saying, "I love cats." I don't love cats any more than I hate Americans. I love Rosamunde. And Orfeo. And Alfredo Fettucine. In the course of my life so far, those three. This slim book begins feline philosophy to bear on the likes of Descartes, Spinoza, the Skeptics, Montaigne (not in that order) and then simply sampling the delectable ruminations of writers who have loved cats to bits, from Samuel Johnson and Christopher Smart of Geoffrey fame to Mary Gaitskill and Doris Lessing. If you have not had a cat of your own with which to compare theirs, it might be less affecting.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Brandon Westlake

    If you are wanting a fresh look at philosophy, here's the go-to book. Unless you're a dog person. This book puts felines in their proper philosophical position, delving into their metaphysical and epistemological qualities (which, to many degrees, are superior to humans). Oh to live life as a cat, Gray writes. The simple life. Sometimes the unexamined life is actually worth living. Or, perhaps, we examine it without noticing that we do, just as our whiskered friends do. Even if you consider this If you are wanting a fresh look at philosophy, here's the go-to book. Unless you're a dog person. This book puts felines in their proper philosophical position, delving into their metaphysical and epistemological qualities (which, to many degrees, are superior to humans). Oh to live life as a cat, Gray writes. The simple life. Sometimes the unexamined life is actually worth living. Or, perhaps, we examine it without noticing that we do, just as our whiskered friends do. Even if you consider this book a little out there and see it as mere philosophical play, it is a great way to look at philosophers from a new standpoint, something that we should continue to do constantly. And who is to say that we should only measure our lives against other humans' lives? Is there anything ethically or morally wrong with comparing ourselves to another specifics? It probably won't induce you to bathing yourself or suddenly developing a craving for mice and small birds; in fact, it might lead you to appreciate the world in a better sense than you did before. This book is best read with a tailed friend curled up on your lap. Just make sure you understand it is the friend who is in charge, not you.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jarvo

    This is an entertaining and diverting book, full of insights into both cats and philosophy. Cats, it is now widely believed, were never really domesticated. They found it advantageous to adapt themselves to our way of life, it was their choice not ours. This comes as no surprise to anyone who has ever owned cats. There is a central point, and a secret joke, at the heart of the book. The point is that cats would have no use for philosophy. They would view most of the problems it purports to solve This is an entertaining and diverting book, full of insights into both cats and philosophy. Cats, it is now widely believed, were never really domesticated. They found it advantageous to adapt themselves to our way of life, it was their choice not ours. This comes as no surprise to anyone who has ever owned cats. There is a central point, and a secret joke, at the heart of the book. The point is that cats would have no use for philosophy. They would view most of the problems it purports to solve as self-created products of human self-consciousness. An animal like a cat which has mastered the art of living has no need of philosophy's lessons. The joke is that Gray makes this anti-philosophical argument by presenting a series of broadly philosophical arguments. But then I suppose this is a book for people, rather than for cats. It is quite a thin book, but there is an interesting if slightly difficult chapter on ethic, which offers more insight on Spinoza than I'd gained by reading different histories of philosophy. It also ends with 10 rules for life, which is a lovely counter-punch to Jordan Peterson (although one of Peterson's rules is that if you see a cat, try to fuss it. He can't be all bad).

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mr Siegal

    Catchy (geddit?) This was a nice wee book. Don't expect anything serious, but it was a pleasurable read. The basic idea is that cats to do not have a sense of self and are thus free, while we humans are bound to the self, which makes us unfree. Indeed, "he good life is not a life you might have led or may yet lead, but the lift you already have. Here, cats can be our teachers, for they do not miss the lives they have not lived (p108). Broad statements, but at least the mind's cogs start working. Catchy (geddit?) This was a nice wee book. Don't expect anything serious, but it was a pleasurable read. The basic idea is that cats to do not have a sense of self and are thus free, while we humans are bound to the self, which makes us unfree. Indeed, "he good life is not a life you might have led or may yet lead, but the lift you already have. Here, cats can be our teachers, for they do not miss the lives they have not lived (p108). Broad statements, but at least the mind's cogs start working. I found though one interesting passage which is quite insightful, and which locates an interesting aspect of our psyche. It says, and I quote (page 97):"Much of humankind finds being an individual a burden [...] If you are a separate soul, distinct and different from others, your history and fate are your own. If, on the other hand, you are moving towards some kind of universal human oneness, you are no longer alone. Your life belongs in a larger story, a fable of collective human self-realisation. Even if as an individual you die for ever, the meaning of your life is not lost". If you like cats and philosophy, give it a go. It's a nice read overall.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sean Kottke

    "Cats show us that seeking after meaning is like the quest for happiness, a distraction. The meaning of life is a touch, a scent, which comes by chance and is gone before you know it." (p.111) The final sentence of this slim volume encapsulates the consistent finding in the author's several interrogations into the follies of human philosophical inquiry across history. Instead of providing comfort through certainty, the whole enterprise of philosophy across all schools ends up creating more discon "Cats show us that seeking after meaning is like the quest for happiness, a distraction. The meaning of life is a touch, a scent, which comes by chance and is gone before you know it." (p.111) The final sentence of this slim volume encapsulates the consistent finding in the author's several interrogations into the follies of human philosophical inquiry across history. Instead of providing comfort through certainty, the whole enterprise of philosophy across all schools ends up creating more discontent, the complete opposite of Socrates' famous observation on the unexamined life not being worth living. Cats experience no division between self and being, creating no fictions about who they really are or aspire to be. They just are. It's an audacious and liberating line of inquiry, much enhanced by contemplating the felines who laze about our house. One aspect of feline life that the book did not address, though, is cats' curiosity. There is ample evidence that cats do seek to understand the world they find themselves in, albeit through physical engagement rather than intellectual inquiry.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Murdock

    "Cats have no need of philosophy. Obeying their nature, they are content with the life it gives them." So begins John Gray's most recent exploration of our place in the world — with a little help from a warm cat on his lap. Cat lovers will complain that this book isn't really about understanding cats at all — at least, it isn't a guide to deep conversations with your feline friend. And philosophy types will complain that Gray's cat comparisons are a bit of a gimmick. If so, they'd miss his often pl "Cats have no need of philosophy. Obeying their nature, they are content with the life it gives them." So begins John Gray's most recent exploration of our place in the world — with a little help from a warm cat on his lap. Cat lovers will complain that this book isn't really about understanding cats at all — at least, it isn't a guide to deep conversations with your feline friend. And philosophy types will complain that Gray's cat comparisons are a bit of a gimmick. If so, they'd miss his often playful tone. The message beneath it is worth considering. Gray is taking on the failures of philosophy to help humans deal with our essential loneliness as the only creature that is aware of its own inevitable death. "Posing as a cure," he writes, "philosophy is a symptom of the disorder it pretends to remedy." Do cats have the cure for our existential angst? Probably not. It isn't in our nature to live in accordance with theirs. But they might have ideas to offer when it comes to embracing this fleeting life with joy and contentment.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Michael Shockley

    Still the usual John Gray, albeit a bit more practical than usual. The usual targets are all still there; Ray Kurzweil and those darn techno-humanism cults, as well as human unreason masquerading as reason beneath the cloak of liberatory movements barely able to conceal their religious impulses and millenarian conceits, but he finds time to bring light to the pitfalls of anthropomorphism this time without recycling too many of his pseudo-nihilistic Schopenhauerian old man grumblings. The usual p Still the usual John Gray, albeit a bit more practical than usual. The usual targets are all still there; Ray Kurzweil and those darn techno-humanism cults, as well as human unreason masquerading as reason beneath the cloak of liberatory movements barely able to conceal their religious impulses and millenarian conceits, but he finds time to bring light to the pitfalls of anthropomorphism this time without recycling too many of his pseudo-nihilistic Schopenhauerian old man grumblings. The usual pessimistic load that weighs down so many of his works and seems to encourage little else but quietude is lightened by his chosen subject matter for once. Despite this, he really doesn't deliver as well as he should have; he sometimes talks too much about philosophers and their beliefs without directly tying it back to cats (the title really promises so much more), and, though I have been striving to be more like my cats for years now, I'm not quite sure his book has brought me any closer to that goal.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Dawn

    Of course, cats don't have philosophy (at least, not as we know it) so this book is really about human philosophy and what we can learn from cats. There are some disturbing mentions of torture and cruelty to cats, which will probably upset a few people (it upset me, but I continued reading). "Feline Philosophy" includes the stories if some "famous" cats, a brief examination of our lives with them (notably theories as to why some people hate cats), and some remarkable lines that my cats seemed im Of course, cats don't have philosophy (at least, not as we know it) so this book is really about human philosophy and what we can learn from cats. There are some disturbing mentions of torture and cruelty to cats, which will probably upset a few people (it upset me, but I continued reading). "Feline Philosophy" includes the stories if some "famous" cats, a brief examination of our lives with them (notably theories as to why some people hate cats), and some remarkable lines that my cats seemed impressed with (yes, I read some sentences aloud to them!). Well worth a read for cat lovers. My thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley. This review was written voluntarily and is entirely my own, unbiased, opinion.

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