Oh, to be a cat! Who hasn’t had that thought, looking with admiration at a sweetly snoozing puss, its every need satisfied by an adoring owner? Is there any animal that can seem more contented than the cat? John Gray is here to tell us we can live more like fussy felines—and, indeed, that we should. It turns out that Gray, one of the most skeptical of recent thinkers, has settled on something to embrace.
Over the course of an academic career that included stints as professor of politics at Oxford—where he received his doctorate—and of European thought at the London School of Economics, Gray wrote studies of John Stuart Mill, Friedrich Hayek, and Isaiah Berlin, among other works. His own political views famously shifted: the young Gray was, like many in his milieu, a Labour Party supporter. He became a rebel in the academy when Margaret Thatcher brought him over to the Conservatives. By 1987 he decided that her New Right had become the sort of “universal project” he saw as not just naive but downright dangerous.