Fame : Art of Living
Once a title held only by a privileged few, fame went hand-in-hand with respect and hard work. To be famous meant that you had achieved something noteworthy, or had an exceptional talent. But things have changed, as demonstrated by the number of singularly untalented people who are currently famous. Why has there been such a shift in our notion of fame and why has the desire for fame become such a powerful motivation for so many people?
Mark Rowlands brings his philosophical expertise to bear on our concept of fame and explores the reasons behind its radical transformation. To understand this “new variant fame”, Rowlands argues, we must engage in an extensive philosophical excavation that takes us back to a dispute that began in fourth-century BC Athens. Rowlands reveals that our presentday notion of fame and the extremes that accompany it are symptoms of a significant cultural change: the decline of Enlightenment ideas has seen individualism eclipse objectivism about value, so much so that what characterizes Western society today is its constitutional inability to distinguish quality from bullshit. This, argues Rowlands, is the predicament in which we find ourselves today and which explains how fame can now be unconnected with any discernible distinction: we have lost any grip on the idea that there might be objective standards of evaluation even for some of the most important choices we make.
A fascinating mix of amusing anecdote and serious philosophical reflection, Fame presents us with a new way of looking at and understanding fame as we now know it, one that shows us how and why we have become the fame-hungry people we are today. It is a book written for anyone who has wondered how the world could ever have turned out like this.
accessibly written, with straightforwardly laid out pathways and clearly marked turns of direction . . . it offers a persuasive account of the leading characteristics of contemporary fame, or rather its degenerate variant. Best of all, the book is refreshing in its analysis, bringing something different and new to the diagnosis of the production and consumption of contemporary fame. It is in this respect, most of all, that it should be applauded. European Journal of Communication
Mark Rowlands is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Miami. He is the author of a dozen books, translated into fifteen languages. His books of popular philosophy include The Philosopher at the End of the Universe and Everything I Know I Learned From TV. His autobiography, The Philosopher and the Wolf has just been published.
1. Girls gone wild: fame and vfame
2. Footnotes to Plato
3. The Enlightenment project
4. Lightness and weight
5. From suicide bombers to Young Hot Hollywood
6. Paris Hilton and the end of history