ATS out in paperback

The paperback edition of All Things Shining has reached warehouses, and will be released officially on August 9th. The publishers have added a beautiful purple/blue border to the cover, and generally spruced it up a bit, but there was time for only minor revisions inside.

Bert and I are each doing a series of radio interviews over the course of the next few weeks, but most of them are taped so we won’t know beforehand when they’ll air. Use this entry to report live episodes, recordings, or to link to websites. I taped one interview yesterday with Shelley Irwin of The Morning Show at WGVU Radio, an NPR affiliate in Grand Rapids, MI.

About Sean D. Kelly

Sean Dorrance Kelly is the Teresa G. and Ferdinand F. Martignetti Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University. He is also Faculty Dean at Dunster House, one of the twelve undergraduate Houses at Harvard. He served for six years as chair of Harvard's Department of Philosophy. Kelly earned an Sc.B. in Mathematics and Computer Science and an M.S. in Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences from Brown University in 1989. After three years as a Ph.D. student in Logic and Methodology of Science, he received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of California at Berkeley in 1998. Before arriving at Harvard in 2006, Kelly taught at Stanford and Princeton, and he was a Visiting Professor at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris. Sean Kelly's work focuses on various aspects of the philosophical, phenomenological, and cognitive neuroscientific nature of human experience. He is a world authority on 20th century European Philosophy, specializing in the work of Martin Heidegger and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. He has also done influential work in philosophy of mind and philosophy of perception. Kelly has published articles in numerous journals and anthologies and he has received fellowships or awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the NEH, the NSF and the James S. McDonnell Foundation, among others. Fun fact: He appeared on The Colbert Show in 2011 to talk about All Things Shining. Sean Kelly lives at Dunster House with his wife, the Harvard Philosopher Cheryl Kelly Chen, and their two boys, Benjamin and Nathaniel.
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14 Responses to ATS out in paperback

  1. david leech says:


    From a commercial success POV (or any other success criteria), what does it mean that ATS is in paperback. That is probably obvious to many but I’m not clear. I suppose — but don’t know — that because ATS got good coverage (I guess) in high-profile reviews out of the starting blocks, “paperback” was, even then, a foregone conclusion. But maybe that’s not true. How does this work? I guess from the perspective of “course adoptions,” paperback is great and I should think that, by any success criteria, spreading the word (literally) is a good thing.

  2. Jermaine says:

    Generally speaking, paperback versions are substantially cheaper than the hardcovers, making them more accessible to a wider audience. Usually, it’s “committed” readers who purchase hardcovers to add and invest into their personal libraries. At least this was the case when I worked at a bookstore.

  3. Good luck with the paperback sales! I think ATS is an extraordinary book and I hope the paperback release is an opportunity for many more to hear about it and buy it. (I assume that you also have created quite a lot of buzz through word of mouth. The person who recommended it to me was so enthusiastic that I bought it the same day, and I in turn have recommended it to many others.)

    The ATS book and blog are both on my own blog roll, and I’ve referenced it in past postings, but I have also been meaning to write a dedicated blog on it for some time. Seems like the August 9th release is the perfect opportunity, so I will get cracking.

  4. Albert says:

    Congratulations, Bert and Sean.
    I’m sure the paperback will widen the discussion of ATS. More instructors will adopt it for their classes, and we all know that you never get to know a text as well as when you’re responsible for it to your students. So discussion will follow adoption, that’s my hope. And students, less armed and dangerous than professional philosophers, will make their teachers more attuned to ATS, that’s my further hope.
    I’ll be using ATS in a graduate seminar on Justice and the Good Life. Rawls and Sandel will provide the framework of the good society, and Bert and Sean’s book will lead us into a discussion of how best to give the framework content today.

  5. I’m delighted to hear you’ll be using the book, Albert. And thanks so much for your good wishes!

    Here’s a link to my interview yesterday with Meghna Chakrabarti of Radio Boston:

    More to follow

    • dmf says:

      best interview yet, you seemed much more at ease, ‘armed’ with ready examples and helpful explications, but am I the only one that feels that while DFW never got out of the flyjar (and so kept at these monumental failures) in his grad-address and such that he is parroting a kind of Yankee-Zen? and if so doesn’t this deeply complicate the question of the role of will/grace that he is re-presenting?

  6. Thanks for the feedback, dmf. Here’s another one I did yesterday, this one with Joe Donahue from WAMC in Albany, NY:

    I did two more this morning, and Bert is doing three today in a marathon performance! I’ll put up the links when they’re available.

    I’m always interested to hear more views about DFW. Could you say more about what you mean when you say he is parroting a kind of “Yankee-Zen,” and how this complicates the role of will and grace?

    • dmf says:

      my pleasure, trying to make philosophical insights available to the public, without losing their fullness,i is a particular interest of mine. I think the tone of the RadioBoston exchange was made easier by the focus (unintentional I take it) on finding meaning, tuning-in, and not on casting ours as being a fallen/secular age which sets religious people on the defensive.
      As for DFW I think that when he talks of paying attention in a way that all things are suddenly shining he isn’t talking about an act of willpower/wishful-thinking but repeating zen ideas/reports about how when one finally learns to pay attention, quiet the grasping/manipulative monkey-mind, that the world then appears to/thru one with a kind of deep mood-lighting of compassion, a clearing if you will. Surely such moments occur for some people, are one of many human response-abilities, but as ever the mistake would be too see this as revealing The Underlying Truth of existence.

  7. dmf says:

    WAMC, a pretty bad interviewer, I don’t think that DFW was saying that we can make anything mean anything, his shopping example was ‘grounded’ in what I would think are pretty realistic accounts of his surroundings/company,as one would expect with a kind of depressive-realism. Not sure how your own preference for going into a book with specific questions, taking/having a perspective as you say, is really any different?

    • david leech says:

      I don’t think he was a bad interviewer. He took the book seriously and asked what he no doubt thought were serious questions. Hey, its a book aimed at a wide audience. Its fund to see what various folks think of it and what it has to offer. I like that the guy was bookish and I especially liked the questions about coming at a book with a perspective. Sean’s response was teacherly. But he might just as well have taken up the question differently, asking, “So, you think you can come to a book w/o a perspective? I don’t even know what that would look like? Do you live in a plastic bag?”

      ATS selects books that allow the readers to, in Heidegger’s phrase, “travel to foreign lands;” lands that are grounded in different metaphysical commitments than our own. It may not be the only way to get a grip on our own land, but it is an approach that pays some dividends. I think ATS, and the discussion around it make it clear that it works. The ordinary reader-seeker of the Great Works of the Western Wold might go to the library and find Hutchins’ & Adlers’ Encyclopedia Britannica version. And what do they learn if they tackle them? Endless variations on endless themes. They learn, nothing about the collection as a whole except, perhaps, that there are endless variations to the endless questions one might pose about, “the 100 great ideas.” (Don’t you love the categorizing mind! Oh, that life made that kind of sense to me!) More confusion. Alternatively, one could read a collection of the great works of the western world as, the lies of the ruling class. Well, I think there is more to be said for that approach then the endless variation approach of Hutchins & Adler, and I wouldn’t dismiss the Marxist reading. But ATS offers another reading altogether, one that promises, like the Marxist approach in this respect, an insight that gets us a little closer to learning something profoundly useful — something like an Archimedean platform — for understanding where we stand in the stream of human history.

  8. dmf says:

    just heard the texas interview, good to be putting the Christian genealogy of your working conception of the secular age up front, for me the kinds of generalizations you borrow from these sources about the imagined unity/purity of peoples/cultures/values (not to mention our supposed moral evolution in the West) that you rely on to make your epochal diagnosis seem at odds with contemporary historiography/sociology so I’m not sure that this repetition is a service to the public but I’ll leave it at that.
    Sometimes I wonder if in the future marine archeologists will be sorting thru the rubble of what was LA and come across some Deepak Chopra and start spinning their cultural analysis of our times from this leading author-ity…!/hubertdreyfus

  9. dmf says:

    Bert is sounding more relaxed in these interviews but listening to him just takes me back to where I started with all of this is that I can’t see any real difference with Bert’s take on our times than the PBS version of Joseph Campbell, but that was back before the huge explosion of the religious mass media like Oprah. Not sure how all of this holds up when one is watching the Republican presidential race but will be interested to hear what young undergrads make of it.

  10. Genevieve says:

    I think this is the complete list of audio interviews:




    Thursday, October 6
    Sean & Bert
    :1:15-2:00 p.m. ET (11:15 AM – 12:noon Pacific), LIVE
    Interview with hosts Maryanne Comaroto and David Raynal

    Tuesday, August 2
    3:15-3:30 PM ET, TAPED
    MORNING SHOW, WGVU Radio, Grand Rapids, MI, NPR affiliate
    Interview with host Shelley Irwin

    Friday, August 5
    ± Hubert
    7:05 – 7:30 PM ET (4:05-4:30 PM Pacific) LIVE
    THE JOURNEY HOME, KSFR Radio, Santa Fe Public Radio
    Interview with host Diego Mulligan and listener calls

    Monday August 8
    10:05 – 10:25 AM ET LIVE
    THE ROUND TABLE. WAMC, National Productions, NPR, Albany, NY
    Interview with Joe Donohue

    Interview: 3:15-3:45 PM ET, LIVE
    RADIO BOSTON, WBUR Radio, NPR Affiliate, Boston, MA
    WBUR, 90.9FM Boston’s NPR News Station
    Hosts Meghna Chakrabarti and Anthony Brooks

    Tuesday, August 9
    9:30-9:40 AM ET (6:30 – 9:40 AM Pacific), LIVE
    MORNING SHOW, KBEM Radio, 88.5 FM, Independent Public Radio station, Minneapolis
    Interview with host Ed Jones

    10:30 – 11:00 AM ET (7:30-8:00 AM Pacific) LIVE
    LET’S TALK, WBOI/WBNI/WQSW Northeast Indiana Public Radio, NPR affiliate
    Interview with host Deborah Godwin-Starks

    10:00 – 10:20 AM Pacific/1:00-1:20 PM ET TAPED
    Interview with Bill Frank (Billy the Brain)

    10:00-10:15 AM ET, TAPED
    HERE & NOW, Texas Public Radio, NPR affiliate, San Antonio, TX
    Taped interview with Dan Skinner

    11:00 – 11:30 AM ET (8:00-8:30 AM Pacific) TAPED
    VIEWPOINTS, Media Tracks Communications, NATIONAL
    Interview with host Pat Reuter
    on the Internet-

    2:30-2:50 PM ET (12:30-12:50 PM Pacific), LIVE
    IT’S YOUR HEALTH, WUML, Boston Talks, Boston, MA
    Interview with: Lisa Davis, MPH, C.N.C.

    Thursday August 11
    10:30 -11:15 AM ET TAPED
    STUDIO TULSA KWGS Radio in Tulsa, OK, Regionally Syndicated NPR show
    KWGS Interview with host Rich Fisher

    Friday August 12

    10:15 – 10:30 AM ET TAPED
    Interview with host Barbara Dooley

    Saturday, August 13
    10:40-11:00 AM PT, LIVE
    SECOND SATURDAY MAGAZINE, WPKM RADIO, Independent Public Radio, Bridgeport, CT & Montauk, NY
    Interview with host Bob Johnson

    Monday August 15
    7:00 – 7:30 AM PT LIVE
    THE ELLA SPEAKES, KTLR Radio, Oklahoma City, OK
    Interview with host Ella Speakes
    streams on internet at

    Tuesday August 16
    7:00 – 7:30 AM PT TAPED
    MORNING EDITION. KVON Radio, ABC Radio Affiliate in Napa, CA
    Taped interview with host Jeff Schectman

    Wednesday, August 17

    12:00 – 1:00 PM ET/ 9:00 – 10:00 AM PT LIVE
    THE JEFFERSON EXCHANGE. Jefferson Public Radio, NPR, Eugene, OR and Mendocino, CA
    Interview with host Geoffrey Reilly and possible listener calls

    1:00 – 1:30 PM ET TAPED
    REAL GOOD WORDS, KAXE Radio, NPR in Grand Rapid, MN
    Interview with host Heidi Holtan
    on the Internet at

    Thursday August 18
    Sean & Bert
    8:00-9:00 PST, HEARSAY, Virginia, Phone Taped

    1:00 – 1:30 PM ET (10 to 10:30 AM Pacific) TAPED
    TURNING PAGES, KCBX Public Radio FM 90 San Luis Obispo, CA, NPR affiliate
    Taped phone interview with host Guy Rathbun.
    : 90.1 San Luis Obispo | 89.5 Santa Barbara | 91.7 Paso Robles to Salinas 90.9 Santa Ynez, Avila Beach, Cambria | 91.1 Cayucos | 95.1 Lompoc.
    The interviews are also podcast on

  11. dmf says:

    the KWGS interview took some interesting turns into the diversity of choices available to us and how technology and superficial engagements vs specialization/mastery play out in relation to quality of life, my comment on one of Bert’s interviews had too many links to get past the ghost in the machine here but there I questioned how in an age where many leading national politicians (with massive followings) regularly dehumanize/demonize people who don’t share their faith isn’t considered a major factor in our current age. Also not sure how being finely attuned to (possessed by) say practices/experiences in a say a charismatic church setting is different from ancient practices of en-theos-iasm unless it is the casting of some of these expert performances as heroic (or maybe consciously practiced?). I think that TerBla is right that expertise in general is morally neutral. Also liked that the the interviewer brought up the brain science, once we understand that the feeling of being possessed is just that a feeling there seems no need to talk about gods, just varieties of skills/experiences.
    But then how does one decide which to pursue?
    A skilled life may be a richer life (as say some tastes are richer) but is not easily/necessarily translated in the everyday moral sense a better life.

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