Are We as a Society Happy?
By Leszek Kolakowski
Basic Books, $28.99, 327 pages
In this book we get a collection of philosophical essays that cover the latter half of the 20th century, from the fall of Communism to the rise of the secular state. These essays range in topic from Communism to far-left groups and more. They examine the world around us and take on the burning questions of the day. The author was a major Polish philosophe and an anti-Communist who was eventually kicked out of Poland. The book is arranged by theme, starting with the essays on Communism and moving to religion; the final part is a wide variety of essays that cover questions about the historical man, reason and truth – all from a religious viewpoint.
While these essays are important, at times they feel a little clunky and out of place, like they are past the prime of their existence and the context in which they were written will never exist again. Some of them show imaginative brilliance, and are still important to read, but others show their age. This is a walk through a changing world and how one of the great philosophical minds came to view it.
Reviewed by Kevin Winter