This Life

this life header ratta
"An important new book... Always lucid... Beautifully liberating... And his fundamental secular cry seems right: since time is all we have, we must measure its preciousness in units of freedom. Nothing else will do. Once this glorious idea has taken hold, it is very hard to dislodge... I finished This Life in a state of enlightened despair, with clearer vision and cloudier purpose—I was convinced, step by step, of the moral rectitude of Hägglund’s argument even as I struggled to imagine the political system that might institute his desired revaluation of value... Hägglund’s book ends, stirringly, with a grounded account of a man who died trying to use his precious time to change the precious time of oppressed people, aware that the full realization of his vision would likely involve a revaluation of value that could not yet be spoken in America. We still haven’t seen that system, and it’s hard to imagine it, but someone went up the mountain and looked out, and saw the promised land. And that land is in this life, not in another one."
James Wood
The new yorker
A new philosophy for our time... I burned through this book so fast I forgot it was 400 pages. I even reread passages I enjoyed, because it was so engaging and thought provoking... My new favorite philosophy book.
Alex Bell
The Boston Globe
Gives fresh philosophical and political vitality to a longstanding question: What kind of political and economic order can do justice to our mortality, to the fact that our lives are all we have?... This Life presents a vital alternative.
Jedediah Britton Purdy
The New Republic
“A sweepingly ambitious synthesis of philosophy, spirituality and politics, which starts with the case for confronting mortality, and ends with the case for democratic socialism… Everything depends on what we do with our time together. This Life makes a forceful case for keeping that truth in mind.”
Oliver Burkeman
The guardian
Brilliant...Exciting... One of Hägglund's most impressive achievements is to bring to a new public agitating for freedom in our lives a bold project of exhuming from the grave an identifiably Marxist intellectual enterprise. At stake are the beliefs we all must share that humanity is one, the social life it has created for itself an affront to its destiny, and—theoretically as well as practically—it has a world to win.
Samuel Moyn
Jacobin
Deep, critical, and lively... Lucidly written, and at times beautifully so... Hägglund wants to effect a revolutionary change in our understanding of value, in our economies and in our lives... The book's central contention is powerful.
Mark O'Connell
New Statesman
Earnest and precise... huge intellectual range... beautifully clear. This Life requires no philosophical training, only an interest in the meaning of this life... I found Hägglund's cherishing of mortal existence a cheering corrective to the sometimes joyless scientificity of the new atheism... Hägglund is surely right that it is our mortality, our miraculous existence as carbon-based matter turned all too briefly into conscious beings who can love and be loved, that makes us priceless to ourselves and to each other.
Joe Moran
Times Higher Education
This Life is to be applauded. Its iconoclasm and sweep provide an example of what intellectual activity can and should look like in an era of emergency... The great virtue of the book: it provides a regulative ideal, and a reminder of what kind of world we are actually fighting for... We need a vision of justice that is plausible and compelling enough to organize our efforts. Hägglund’s book provides one. After a half century of anti-utopian suspicion, This Life calls us back to a nearly forgotten style of thinking and imagining... Hägglund is right that time is our most precious resource.
James Chappel
Boston Review
By far the most profound, thoughtful, compelling, and insightful book I have ever read on the topic of immortality, and the problematic implications of the religious fixation on eternal life. For a secular person–or anyone who wants to understand the secular worldview–this book is essential reading... Hägglund plumbs its depths like no one has ever before. He does so artfully, theoretically, and with tremendous wisdom. This Life is a truly welcome addition to the secularist humanist canon.
Phil Zuckerman
Psychology Today
"Highly persuasive...The philosophical basis Hägglund offers for a future of progressive politics remains crucial... A distinct and important contribution to contemporary philosophy, This Life is a rare accomplishment. A book that is a rigorous as it is approachable, as incisive as it is patient. A veritable trove of ideas... A rewarding book that deserves exactly what it demands: close, engaged reading by a wide readership.”
Tyler m Williams
Critical Inquiry
Electrifying...Hägglund's work stands as one of the most morally and politically compelling intellectual projects of our time.
Conall Cash
boundary 2
A book filled with insight... Hägglund has written an important work that pushes forward a secular, rational, and fulfilling view of humankind's place in the world. If the reader is up to the challenge of engaging deeply and historically about their life philosophy, this is a book that rewards that effort.
David Chivers
The Humanist
Hägglund hopes to help people seize this moment of discontent with capitalism and ask some fundamental questions: How should we live and work together? What are the optimal ways we can organize society to enhance freedom and well-being — and avoid scorching the planet? That’s a good conversation to have.
Tom Krattenmaker
USA Today
A monumental achievement... Hägglund is exactly right to focus our long-term vision on a fundamental transformation of society... Hägglund's revaluation of value is itself a powerful Polaris to help navigate the political projects that we set ourselves to embracing.
Michael McCarthy
Jacobin
A quietly devastating takedown of capitalism... A highly readable, accessible—yet profound—examination of what kind of society might enable life at its most fulfilling... The discussions and analyses, however complex, are written with a light touch and beguiling clarity which is both wholly absorbing and deeply relevant. The reader is complicit, a partner. It is a book to read slowly, and this reviewer is about to start reading it all over again.
Marina Vaizey
The Arts Desk
Both draws on and critiques such major thinkers as Aristotle, Augustine, Kierkegaard, Marx, Hegel, Keynes, Hayek, Adorno, and Martin Luther King—without ever bogging down in philosophical jargon. As timely as a work of philosophy could be these days.
Ray Olson
Booklist, starred review
Hägglund's intellect is clearly impressive, but equally so is his grasp of what makes human life, from the private to the political, meaningful... His book presents a vision, in a liberating and robust way. Secular faith is to know this life will end, and not to see that as unbearable, but rather as a catalyst to creating a life that is worth living.
Kathryn Drury Wagner
Spirituality & Health
The beauty of Hägglund's book is that he does not stop where Spinoza does: freedom here leads to socialism, for freedom means collective freedom... Brilliant, inspirational, and should be read.
Adolph Alzuphar
Counterpunch
A splendid primer on the importance of authentic freedom.
Yanis Varoufakis
author of Adults in the Room
"Arriving at a moment of widespread intellectual and political disorientation, This Life is a timely, profoundly ambitious attempt to fashion a new foundation for personal and collective existence. Hägglund argues that a return to Marx’s radical materialism does not have to signal a loss of spirituality or contempt for democracy, but something like the opposite: a truly secular faith in a redemptive realm of freedom."
Stephen Greenblatt
author of The Swerve
Hägglund shows with real originality why the moral concern that underlies religious faith has always been a hope for the perpetuation of life on earth. Stringent, lucid, and urgent in its appeal for a politics equal to the prospect of climate disaster, This Life is both an argument and a summons.
David Bromwich
author of Moral Imagination
Martin Hägglund is the most important young philosopher in America, whose work on time has already made an immense impression in academic circles. Now he has chosen to address a broad audience, in a work of immaculate clarity. When this powerful and moving book reaches a wide readership, it will, I think, have profound practical as well as theoretical consequences for the discussions that are raging on every side around questions of religious belief and the future of democracy.
Richard Klein
Professor Emeritus at Cornell
This is a rare piece of work, the product of great intellectual strength and moral fortitude. The writing shows extraordinary range and possesses an honesty and fervor which is entirely without cynicism. Beneath Hägglund’s affirmation of secular faith and a life-defining commitment is a compelling reworking of the early Heidegger’s existential analytic, especially his understanding of finitude and ecstatic temporality. With the great difference that this is a distinctly leftist project, where secular faith leads to spiritual freedom which is understood as a Hegelian-Marxist affirmation of democratic socialism. Hägglund is a genuine moralist for our times, possessed of an undaunted resoluteness and a fierce commitment to intellectual probity. Maybe he’s the philosophical analogue to Karl Ove Knausgaard.
Simon Critchley
author of Tragedy, the Greeks, and Us