Sean Dorrance Kelly, chair of the Philosophy department at Harvard University, is the author (along with Hubert Dreyfus) of a new book entitled All Things Shining: Reading the Western Classics to Find Meaning in a Secular Age (Free Press, 2011). Recently, Kelly was interviewed on The Colbert Report. This might be the first (and last) time that a Philosophy professor was interviewed on a popular television show. Kelly did a splendid job, proving that not all academics are dull and stodgy.
Apparently, All Things Shining aims to strike a hopeful theme—that despite the nihilism that is so pervasive in the West, we can still find meaning, particularly as we look to the classics of Western philosophy and literature. It is refreshing to hear scholars from Harvard and Berkeley affirm the notion that there are genuine, timeless “classic” literary works and to attempt to offer an effective antidote to the worldview crisis of our time. Many readers are lavishing praise on their efforts. But some, such as David Brooks, think they fall a bit short. You can check out David Brooks’ New York Times review here. Also, here is Eric Ormsby’s Wall Street Journal review of the book.