Winner of the René Wellek Prize
Named a Best Book of the Year by The Guardian, The Millions, and The Sydney Morning Herald
This Life offers a profoundly inspiring basis for transforming our lives, demonstrating that our commitment to freedom and democracy should lead us beyond both religion and capitalism. Philosopher Martin Hägglund argues that we need to cultivate not a religious faith in eternity but a secular faith devoted to our finite life together. He shows that all spiritual questions of freedom are inseparable from economic and material conditions: what matters is how we treat one another in this life and what we do with our time.
Engaging with great philosophers from Aristotle to Hegel and Marx, literary writers from Dante to Proust and Knausgaard, political economists from Mill to Keynes and Hayek, and religious thinkers from Augustine to Kierkegaard and Martin Luther King, Jr., Hägglund points the way to an emancipated life.
About the Author
MARTIN HÄGGLUND is a professor of comparative literature and humanities at Yale University. A member of the Society of Fellows at Harvard University, he is the author of three highly acclaimed books, and his work has been translated into eight languages. In his native Sweden, he published his first book, Chronophobia, at the age of twenty-five. His first book in English, Radical Atheism, was the subject of a conference at Cornell University and a colloquium at Oxford University. His most recent book, Dying for Time: Proust, Woolf, Nabokov, was hailed by the Los Angeles Review of Books as a “revolutionary” achievement. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2018. He lives in New York City.
"An important new book. . . . Beautifully liberating.” —James Wood, The New Yorker
“A splendid primer on the importance of authentic freedom.” —Yanis Varoufakis, former Greek Minister of Finance and bestselling author of Adults in the Room
"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.” —The Guardian
"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 engagin and thought provoking. . . . My new favorite philosophy book." —Alex Bell, The Boston Globe
"Earnest and precise . . . [with] huge intellectual range . . . beautifully clear. This Life requires no philosophical training or lexicon to follow it, only an interest in the meaning of this life." —Times Higher Education
“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.” —Critical Inquiry
“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.” —The New Republic
“Powerful. . . . Lucidly written, and at times beautifully so. . . . Deeply radical in its aims. [Hägglund] wants to effect a revolutionary change in our understanding of value, in our economies and in our lives.” —New Statesman
“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.” —Jacobin
“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.” —USA Today