The Art of Losing Control by Jules Evans
(Canongate, 2017)

The Art of Losing Control

by Jules Evans

In The Art of Losing Control, Jules Evans explains that Greek philosophy (and the secular humanism to which it gave rise, which is the dominant culture of western society) privileges rationality as the highest part of human nature. That was what his last book, Philosophy for Life took as its starting point.

But rationality isn’t all we need for the good life. Losing Control begins with Jules lying in a pool of his own blood at the bottom of a mountain with a broken femur, having a revelation that completely changed his way of thinking about himself.

The Greeks, argues Jules, knew another tradition: the Ecstatic. And we need both, the rational and the irrational, in order to live a full life.

Non-rational states of consciousness like the revelation Jules had after his fall, are to some extent beyond our control – and as a society, we tend to be afraid of them. But Jules argues that there are way of letting down our guard – we can learn the art of letting go – and opening ourselves to ecstatic experiences. The Greek word ekstasis originally meant ‘to stand outside your self’. Balancing personal narrative, interviews, and readings from great thinkers ancient and modern, Jules’s new book will be a rich, witty, provocative and intellectually rigorous guide for anyone who wants to go beyond selfie culture and experience a connection to something bigger than themselves.

Reviews

An original and outstanding investigation into a poorly understood but central experience in all our lives. Jules Evans is brave, honest and wise -- a great companion and guide on a fascinating journey.”
- Caspar Henderson, author of The Book of Barely Imagined Beings