Straw dogs Chapter 6. As it is

This final and shorter chapter tries to establish some sort of positive feedback on how to live our lives accepting our animal nature and realizing that progress is an illusion.

Before, however we find another general attack to our modern way of living, this time against our obsession with action, with being busy. Reasonably, Gray points out that this is a very peculiar way of considering life that only recently appeared in human history.

This obsession with busyness goes together with another bigger one: the obssession of having a purpose in life. Gray points out that animals do not have any purpose in life, and they can live very well without it.

According to Gray, our purpose of life should be just watching what goes on, being present, and accepting what happens as it is, without obessing to transcend it or modify it.

Interestingly enough, despite his criticism in other chapters, Gray ends up defending a very Buddhist view of life, living mindfully and accepting what goes on instead of denying and trying to change what cannot be modified.

Next there is a list of further reading, one for each chapter, which also works as Gray’s source of inspiration, I guess. I enjoyed the interesting mix of famous philosophy treatises with more obscure essays as well as scientific books or technical papers, and some of the references sound quite interesting to read.

This paragraph captures Gray’s proposal on how to live our lives very well:

Today the good life means making full use of science and technology -without succumbing to the illusion that they can make us free, reasonable, or even sane. It means seeking peace -without hoping with a world without war. It means cherising freedom -in the knowledge that it is a interval between anarchy and tiranny.


I do like the general idea, and then I suspect that Gray is not as anti-modern as he likes to think. Seeking peace, cherising freedom are after all, purposes, things that animals do not seem to have. Maybe, as Robert Byrne said, the purpose of life is a life with purpose.


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