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Neiman’s stunning history of modern philosophy is now out in paperback. She explains what Leibnitz, Rousseau, Kant and Hegel were really up to: they were trying to figure out why bad things happen. Philosophy, in this book, is an attempt to find a plausible explanation for why the world is not, or doesn’t seem to be, the way it should be. This effort is both urgent and morally problematic, since explanations of evil can also serve to explain evil away.


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