The Soul of the Marionette
A Short Enquiry into Human Freedom
A brilliantly enjoyable and freewheeling new book on human freedom from John Gray, bestselling author of Straw Dogs
In The Soul of the Marionette, John Gray draws together the religious, philosophic and fantastical traditions that question the very idea of human freedom. We flatter ourselves about the nature of free will and yet the most enormous forces - biological, physical, metaphysical - constrain our every action. Many writers and intellectuals have always understood this, but instead of embracing our condition we battle against it, with everyone from world conquerors to modern scientists dreaming of a 'human dominion' almost comically at odds with our true state.
This is a stimulating and enraging meditation on everything from cybernetics to the fairground marionettes of the title.
Praise for The Soul of the Marionette
A generous and energising tumble of ideas...he is inventive and penetratingGalen Strawson, Financial Times
Like Isaiah Berlin with a thing for sci-fiTibor Fischer, The Spectator
We might believe that we are on a voyage towards a future of perfect freedom, but Gray is here to tell us that we are really only going round in circles, repeating ancient heresies, and retelling old myths in modern cantStephen Cave, Literary Review
Gray must be one of the best read of contemporary philosophers, trawling insouciantly through high-, middle- and low-brow literature with the sharp-eyed eclecticism of a magpie of geniusJohn Banville, The Guardian
A brain-twisting meditation on freedom...a brief, elliptical inquiry designed to raise more questions than anyone could answerKirkus Reviews
Perhaps the most brilliant of his originally structured "enquiries", brings home, with infectious learning, the many self-deceptions behind our reverence for freedomPaul Binding, TLS