About Me

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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019); AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021); and HOW WE BECAME POST-LIBERAL: THE RISE AND FALL OF TOLERATION (2024).

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Currently reading - The Secular Outlook by Paul Cliteur

I've read this previously in manuscript form - and even wrote a short blurb to go on the back. But it's nice nestling down with a copy of the published book.

It's not a quick read, because it's very dense with factual detail and argument. Cliteur doesn't allow you to breeze through chapters that contain a lot of optional asides, jokes, anecdotes, and so on. You actually have to focus on the paragraphs. That doesn't mean that the style is inaccessible or difficult - not at all, it's very readable - but this is a meaty book that asks for (and rewards) a certain amount of concentration.

Cliteur's aim is to describe and defend secularism, and particularly the freedom to criticise religion. He spends a considerable amount of the book examining religion's dark side and arguing that we must be free to expose this and challenge it. There's a lot in here, and I can imagine coming back to the book again and again as a resource.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like it’s worth picking up a copy. I’ve been frustrated by the lack of books written for a serious non-specialist. I’ve found this to be the case with many fields. There is, as you say, no shortage of breezy introductory texts, filled with fun anecdotes and vague or misleading analogies. And you can usually find a more scholarly tome filled with technical jargon and equations from a university press somewhere. But finding a book for people who have read the introductory works but don’t have the background to follow a PhD dissertation can be tough.

Grendels Dad