Gray's Anatomy: Selected Writings  

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"Of course the Enlightenment was a highly contradictory movement. It contained thinkers such as Spinoza, who despite his faith in reason knew that humans would always live by illusions; sceptics such as David Hume, for whom history was the working out of chance events; Schopenhauer, who used the work of Kant — the supreme Enlightenment philosopher — to argue that history is a kind of dream; and Freud — the greatest twentieth-century Enlightenment thinker — who showed that humans could only ever be partially sane. But it was the Enlightenment belief in progress that had mass appeal, and here religion comes back into the picture. Like much else in secular thought the idea of progress is a legacy of Christianity." --introduction to Gray's Anatomy: Selected Writings

"As an anti-Communist I shared Amalrik's belief that the Soviet state was not a permanent fixture." --introduction to Gray's Anatomy: Selected Writings

“It is a truism that socialism is dead, and an irony that it survives most robustly as a doctrine not in Paris, where it has suffered a fate worse than falsification by becoming thoroughly unfashionable, nor in London, where it has been abandoned by the Labour Party, but in the universities of capitalist America, as the ideology of the American academic nomenklatura.” (John Gray, "The End of History, Again?" (1989)

"In these grey times, there’s nothing like a vicious, colourful but slightly pointless literary feud to bring a bit of gaiety to the nation. We can no longer rely on Martin Amis and Terry Eagleton, who have gone rather quiet after their ferocious squabble about terrorism and Islam. So the country now looks to author Christopher Hitchens and philosopher John Gray.

Gray has a book out next month, Gray’s Anatomy, which includes a chapter on torture. He mentions that Hitchens endured Guantanamo-style waterboarding – where water is continually poured over a prisoner’s face – as part of his research into the same subject. “Hitchens – a notable partisan of Enlightenment – defends [torture] as part of the global struggle to defend Enlightenment values against Islamist fundamentalism,” says Gray. Hitchens is furious at the accusation that he favours torture. “This is a direct falsification of my views,” he splutters. Light the blue touch paper and retire."[1]

Related e



Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Gray's Anatomy: Selected Writings (2009) is a collection of writings by John Gray.

The book's launch was noted by the fact that Christopher Hitchens forced an early print of the book to be pulped because of remarks Gray had made regarding Hitchens's stand on torture.



Part One

Liberalism: An Autopsy

  1. Modus vivendi
  2. John Stuart Mill and the idea of progress
  3. Santayana’s alternative
  4. Oakeshott as a liberal
  5. Notes towards a definition of the political thought of Tlon, a review of Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Anthology
  6. Isaiah Berlin: the value of decency
  7. George Soros and the open society

Part Two

The Euthanasia of Conservatism

  1. Hayek as a conservative
  2. A conservative disposition
  3. The strange death of Tory England
  4. Tony Blair, neo-con
  5. Margaret Thatcher and the euthanasia of Conservatism

Part Three

From Post-Communism to Deglobalization

  1. The system of ruins
  2. Cultural origins of Soviet Communism, see Michael Polanyi remark from The Logic of Liberty (1951):
    1. "Had the whole of Europe at that time been of the same mind as Italy, Renaissance humanism might have established freedom of thought everywhere, simply by default of opposition. Europe might have returned to—or, if you like, relapsed into—a liberalism resembling that of pre-Christian antiquity. Whatever may have followed after that, our present disasters would not have occurred."
  3. Western Marxism: a fictionalist deconstruction
  4. The end of history, again?
  5. What globalization is not
  6. The world is round
    1. a reaction to The World Is Flat

Part Four

Enlightenment and Terror

  1. The original modernizers
  2. The Jacobins of Washington
  3. Torture: a modest proposal
  4. A modest defence of George W. Bush
  5. Evangelical atheism, secular Christianity
    1. A criticism of "evangelical atheism", mentioning God Is Not Great, The God Delusion, The Second Plane, Atheist Manifesto: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, Northern Lights, Breaking the Spell, The End of Faith, Towards the Light and "Dover Beach"
    2. It also notes that the fashionable term Islamic fascism should perhaps be called Islamic Leninism instead, in view of their debt to left-wing terrorism.

Part Five

After Progress

  1. An agenda for Green conservatism
    1. Ivan Illich, The Abolition of Man, Garrett Hardin "The Tragedy of the Commons", Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, Edward Goldsmith, Ages of Gaia by James Lovelock, Robert Waller, John Aspinall
    2. "There is nothing in front but a flat wilderness of standardization either by Bolshevism or Big Business. But it is strange that some of us should have seen sanity, if only in a vision, while the rest go forward chained eternally to enlargement without liberty and progress without hope." --The Outline of Sanity by G.K. Chesterton [2]
  2. Joseph Conrad, our contemporary
    1. The Secret Agent
  3. Theodore Powys and the life of contemplation
  4. Homo rapiens and mass extinction
    1. E. O. Wilson
  5. A report to the Academy
  6. A Report to an Academy, "Die Methoden der psychologischen Forschung an Affen" (1921) by Wolfgang Köhler
  7. The body disassembled in Damien Hirst
  8. As it is

Notes Acknowledgements Permissions Index

See also

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