Princeton University Press (Footprint) $31.95 hb, 144 pp, 9780691170657
This small book is the culmination of a lifetime's thought about some of the deepest and most unfathomable philosophical questions: the limits of our knowledge of the world; the nature of morality; the nature of our being; and our thoughts- about what lies beyond death. Magee is a philosopher and his attempts to grapple with his chosen questions reflect this; in particular, the influence on him of some of the greatest figures in Western philosophy, notably Kant and Schopenhauer. But Ultimate Questions is fundamentally a personal reflection on these questions, reflection that leads not so much to answers but to a deeper sense of what such reflection really involves, including – for limited mortal beings such as us – its limits. Here it is important to note that Magee is not just a philosopher; his rich and varied life has included being a member of parliament in Britain, a music and theatre critic, a BBC broadcaster, and a poet. All of this has influenced Magee's thought in ways that extend well beyond academic philosophy.