Feline Philosophy: Cats and the Meaning of Life

Feline Philosophy: Cats and the Meaning of Life

by John Gray


View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for delivery by Wednesday, May 19


The author of Straw Dogs, famous for his provocative critiques of scientific hubris and the delusions of progress and humanism, turns his attention to catsand 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.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780374154110
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: 11/24/2020
Pages: 128
Sales rank: 19,801
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.70(d)

About the Author

John Gray is the author of many books, including Seven Types of Atheism, The Silence of Animals, The Immortalization Commission, Black Mass, and Straw Dogs. He has been a professor of politics at Oxford, a visiting professor at Harvard and Yale, and a professor of European thought at the London School of Economics.

Simon Vance, a former BBC Radio presenter and newsreader, is a full-time actor who has appeared on both stage and television. He has recorded over eight hundred audiobooks and has earned five coveted Audie Awards, and he has won fifty-seven Earphones Awards from AudioFile magazine, which has named him a Golden Voice.


San Francisco, California

Date of Birth:


Place of Birth:

Houston, Texas


B.A., M.A., Maharishi European Research University; Ph.D., Columbia Pacific University, 1982

Table of Contents

1 Cats and Philosophy 1

A cat-loving anti-philosopher: Michel de Montaigne 6

Mèo's journey 9

How cats domesticated humans 16

2 Why Cats Do Not Struggle to Be Happy 25

When philosophers talk of happiness 26

Pascal on diversion 31

Hodge and the Fall 38

3 Feline Ethics 45

Morality, a very peculiar practice 45

Spinoza on living according to your nature 47

Selfless egoism 58

4 Human vs Feline Love 67

Saha's triumph 67

Ming's biggest prey 70

Loving Lily 75

Gattino vanishes 79

5 Time, Death and the Feline Soul 89

Muri's farewell 89

Civilization as death-denial 93

Cats as gods 99

6 Cats and the Meaning of Life 105

Cat nature, human nature 106

Ten feline hints, on how to live well 108

Mèo on the window ledge 111

Acknowledgements 113

Notes 115

Customer Reviews