Strangers, Gods and Monsters is a fascinating look at how human identity is shaped by three powerful but enigmatic forces. Often overlooked in accounts of how we think about ourselves and others, Richard Kearney skilfully shows, with the help of vivid examples and illustrations, how the human outlook on the world is formed by the mysterious triumvirate of strangers, gods and monsters.
Throughout, Richard Kearney shows how Strangers, Gods and Monsters do not merely reside in myths or fantasies but constitute a central part of our cultural unconscious. Above all, he argues that until we understand better that the Other resides deep within ourselves, we can have little hope of understanding how our most basic fears and desires manifest themselves in the external world and how we can learn to live with them.
In this brilliant book Richard Kearney sets his sights on the hyperbolic inflation of otherness. The refusal to acknowledge 'oneself-as-another, ' as Ricoeur puts it, generates visions of otherness that call for a critical hermeneutics. Like Baudrillard, Benjamin, and Zizek before him, Kearney has a finely tuned ear for the often hysterical workings of the media and popular culture, and in this respect his chapter reflecting on 9/11 is exemplary. He argues convincingly for the need for judgment when we 'welcome strangers, respect gods, and acknowledge monsters'. In this endeavor, Kearney is the ideal companion, and he proves again to be one of the liveliest philosophical minds in America.