The Summing Up, LXVIII

Not to sound too much like Maugham, but one must read any writer’s non-fiction treatise on the human condition (specifically their’s) with a fair amount of cynicism. This chapter, still on the philosophy, reveals Maugham is anti-philosophy as it turns out. He’s also anti-Buddhism. Finds it as silly an idea in reality as solipsism. But the anti-philosophy stuff is funny because it’s Maugham calling out philosophers for being a bunch of spoiled brats. Maugham calling someone spoiled is a rather interesting turn; he decides he’s worthy of doing so because of his years as a doctor in the slums. These philosophers have never seen a child die of meningitis, he writes; he has, however. There’s a bit on evil—Maugham doesn’t like how philosophers don’t know what to do with evil—and there’s a bit kind of making fun of “American dentistry.” It’s an aside, but it’s very Maugham. The cynic in me wonders how much those children dying affected Maugham. He doesn’t talk about it in The Summing Up as a personal note, only to cast doubt on others.

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