Thinking It Through

"We have arrived at the stage of history when we must begin thinking about thinking itself. This is something as different from philosophy as it is from psycho-analysis," writes celebrated historian John Lukacs (Five Days in London, May 1940) in At the End of an Age, an extended essay on the problems of history. Continuing the argument he began in earlier books, Lukacs elaborates on his notion that we're at the end of the modern age that began with the Renaissance, and that this period calls for a reconsideration of the idea of objectivity in history and science, two disciplines that create—rather than describe—the world that they seek to understand. (Yale, $22.95 240p ISBN 0-300-09296-2; May 7)

A prominent historian of ancient thought, Pierre Hadot (Philosophy as a Way of Life) revisits the work of Plato, Aristotle, the Hellenistic schools and the philosophical schools of imperial Rome in What Is Ancient Philosophy? He provides an overview of the evolution of ancient thought, focusing particularly on the role of philosophical theory in the lives of the thinkers. Showing how the ancients endeavored to live by their philosophy, Hadot reflects on the rift between theory and practice that came about with the professionalization of philosophy in the Christian era. (Harvard, $29.95 352p ISBN 0-674-00733-6; May 20)

While Freud and C.S. Lewis never actually met, the atheistic theories of the psychoanalyst and well-known unbeliever are pitted against those of the Christian don in The Question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life. Author Armand M. Nicholi Jr. is a Harvard Medical School psychiatry professor who has taught a class on the theological writings of Freud and Lewis for more than 25 years. In this accessible study, he outlines the lives of the two thinkers, both preoccupied with the question of god's existence, and compares how the two approach questions of conscience, happiness, pain and death. (Free Press, $25 304p ISBN 0-7432-0237-6; Apr. 2)

"I had gone from underachieving jock-mod to pocket-sized intellectual in less than a year, and philosophy had to take a lot of the blame," writes Rutgers University philosophy professor Colin McGinn (The Mysterious Flame) in The Making of a Philosopher: My Journey Through Twentieth-Century Philosophy. Hoping to explain contemporary analytical philosophy without having his book "remind the reader of school," McGinn, renowned for his work on consciousness, gives a personal account of his encounters with philosophy, including his discovery of Descartes as a teenager in Blackpool, the revelation of reading Chomsky as a psychology undergraduate and his preoccupation with Wittgenstein while teaching at UCLA. He also discusses the work of mentors and colleagues like Jerry Fodor and Thomas Nagel. (HarperCollins, $25.95 256p ISBN 0-06-019792-7; Apr.)

The use of history by philosophers is the overarching theme in this University of Toronto philosophy professor's collection of essays, Historical Ontology. Ian Hacking (The Social Construction of What?), who also holds the chair of philosophy and history of scientific concepts at the Collège de France, wrote these academic papers, book reviews and articles between 1973 and 1999. Many of them address Michel Foucault's mingling of history and philosophy, particularly in The Order of Things. Hacking also includes pieces on the role of dreams in philosophy, the proofs of Leibniz and Descartes, and a survey of Wittgenstein's work. (Harvard, $39.95 320p ISBN 0-674-00616-X; Apr.)

Make a Change

Novelist Steven Pressfield (The Legend of Bagger Vance; Gates of Fire) goes self-help in The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle. Dubbing itself a cross between Sun-Tzu's The Art of War and Julie Cameron's The Artist's Way, Pressfield's book aims to help readers "overcome Resistance" so that they may achieve "the unlived life within." Whether one wishes to embark on a diet, a program of spiritual advancement or an entrepreneurial venture, it's most often resistance that blocks the way. To kick resistance, Pressfield stresses loving what one does, having patience and acting in the face of fear. (Rugged Land [Holtzbrinck, dist.], $22.95 224p ISBN 1-59071-003-7; May 21)

Change is unavoidable, say corporate consultants George and Sedena Cappannelli. Yet if one knows how to deal with it properly, change can actually help one find and maintain balance and meaning. In Say Yes to Change: 25 Keys to Winning in Times of Transition, the authors present realistic ways to handle the birth of children, new primary relationships, career changes and more. Eliminate limiting beliefs, they say, and worship spontaneity, act with detachment and stay present. Each of the 25 chapters ends with exercises that will help readers put the Cappannellis' suggestions into action. (F&W/Walking Stick, $21.99 288p ISBN 1-58297-149-8; Apr.)

"Every woman will encounter loss, grief, and profound difficulty. But happiness, achievement, and success are in front of us as well," writes editor Nancy Carson in Believing in Ourselves: A Celebration of Women. Carson introduces 35 North American women who, in various ways, have triumphed over obstacles. Susan Edwards-Bell overcame cancer and is now an advocate for the homeless. Sonia Sotomayor grew up in a Bronx housing project and was the first Latina named to the U.S. Court of Appeals. Mary-Lisa Orth lived on welfare during her struggle to become a top industrial engineer. B&w photographs accompany each profile, making this a likely gift item. 100,000 first printing. (Andrews McMeel, $27.95 144p ISBN 0-7407-2220-4; Mar.)