The Philosopher And The Wolf

Lessons From The Wild On Love, Death And Happiness

Mark Rowlands

Published: 1 February 2018
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 256 pages
ISBN: 9781783784578

Other Editions


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Published: 4 May 2009
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 256 pages
ISBN: 9781847081025

Ebook Available


This fascinating book charts the relationship between Mark Rowlands, a rootless philosopher, and Brenin, his extraordinarily well-travelled wolf. More than just an exotic pet, Brenin exerted an immense influence on Rowlands as both a person, and, strangely enough, as a philosopher, leading him to re-evaluate his attitude to love, happiness, nature and death. By turns funny (what do you do when your wolf eats your air-conditioning unit?) and poignant, this life-affirming classic of popular philosophy will make you reappraise what it means to be human.

About the author

Image of Mark Rowlands

Mark Rowlands was born in Newport, Wales. He is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Miami and the author of sixteen books, including the bestselling The Philosopher and the Wolf and Running With the Pack both published by Granta Books. His books have been translated into more than twenty languages. More about the author


The Philosopher and the Wolf has been one of the most intense reading experiences of my life. There is hardly a sentence in the book that did not engage me, stop me, make me think. It is a profound and beautiful book’ Jeffrey Masson



The Philosopher and the Wolf is a wonderful book. It's rare that a professor lets his hair down and weaves sentiment, heart, and love into deeper and supposedly more objective academic issues. Mark Rowlands does just this and I will be sharing his book widely’ Marc Bekoff, author of WILD JUSTICE: THE MORAL LIVES OF ANIMALS

Mark Rowlands has given us that rarest of things - a book that takes the reader beyond the human world, while exploring the deepest human emotions. This moving account of the life he lived with an adopted wolf will be recognized as a seminal work of philosophy that forces us to re-evaluate our view of the human animal’ John Gray

‘A meditation on what it means to be lupine and how it reflects the human’ Janice Galloway

‘A memoir of a professor who raised a wolf cub. He weaves fabulous details about training the animal into the philosophy of human life. A wolf lives in a very honest and straightforward way. There's something to be learned from that’ Amanda Donohue

‘A powerfully subversive critique of the unexamined assumption that shape the way most philosophers - along with most people - think about animals and themselves’

‘A powerfully subversive critique of the unexamined assumptions that shape the way most philosophers - along with most people - think about animals and themselves’ John Gray

‘A profound and searching meditation ... Rowlands writes with rare rigour and elegance. Held together by an exciting and often extremely moving narrative, this is one of the most thought-stirring and life-affirming books of philosophy that I know’ John Gray

‘A remarkably touching tale of nature, humanity and the potential for each to transform the other’ James Crabtree

‘A ripping yarn for anyone who loves animals’ Fiona Dalzell

‘An absolute stunner of a book. Impossible not to be moved by the painfully personal narrative and the depth of reflection. Just enthralling and unputdownable’ Professor Andrew Linzey

‘An amusing, yet profound story that is both thought-provoking and informative’ Helen Peacocke

‘An exceptionally moving saga’

‘An extraordinary memoir’

‘An extraordinary, moving book’ Sarah Broadhurst

‘An unusual little book ... It is perhaps best described as the autobiography of an idea, or rather a set of related ideas, about the relationship between human and non-human animals’ Jonathan Derbyshire

‘By turns moving and funny ... offers every reason to look again at how we view other animals ... Rowlands writes with real power of a profoundly intense and rewarding relationship’ Nick Churchill

‘Extraordinary work of popular philosophy in which the author of Everything I Know I Learned From TV describes what he learned about life, the universe and everything while living with an adopted wolf, Brenin, at his side’

‘Funny, engrossing ... heartbreaking ... enchanting and often disturbing ... and almost always beautifully written’

‘Goes to places no ordinary book about philosophy would dare to go ... a unique and precious book’ Jon Fordham

‘It is a remarkable book’

‘Moving and unsettling memoir’

‘Nothing short of human existence, survival and our relationship to all other creatures is examined here and it's all written in a beautifully elegiac way. The heart-strings will be pulled and the mind stimulated’

‘Rarely has a single animal inspired such deep reflections on morality, mortality, and misanthropy ... a human memoir that reads like a tormented love affair with its animal star’ Frans de Waal, author of OUR INNER APE

‘Rowland's memoir is life-affirming, engrossing, thoughtful and moving ... The Philosopher and the Wolf could become a philosophical cult classic’ Mark Vernon

‘Rowlands communicates his ideas in a way that is humorous, compelling and moving ... [he] succeeds remarkably well in engaging the reader. Largely this is because of the emotional intensity of the narrative’ James Carney

‘Rowlands is a passionate chronicler as he casts nets of meaning over the animal. But it is the wolf itself that leaps most vigorously off the page, eluding all fallible cages of human thought, captivating the reader’ Anita Sethi

‘Rowlands' clarity of thought and his honesty ... are what make one's hitching a ride on this journey a mostly intriguing and seamless ride’ Tom Adair

‘The book takes varyingly interesting diversions into philosophical territory ... Rowlands does a good job (with the help of Nietzsche) of questioning our attitude towards death’ Keith Ridgway

‘This book is a rare treat ... an unexpectedly provocative exploration of what it means to be human ... [Rowlands] writes with great humour and warmth as he maps out lessons learned on the nature of love, loss and human weakness’ Aimee Shalan

‘This book is about ... the fundamental questions of love, happiness, morality and human existence’ Lucy Hope

‘This fascinating and stimulating story of integrating a full-blooded wolf into the life of a philosophy professor veers between the profound and the hilarious. In turns touching and poignant ... this chronicle will make you think deeply about our relationship with domestic animals and about our responsibilities for them’ Roger Fletcher

‘This moving and often unsettling memoir tells the story ... of how Rowlands's philosophy was transformed by this extended, intimate encounter with the wild’

‘This year's most original and instructive work of popular philosophy ... a remarkable portrait of the bond that can exist between a human being and a beast ... [Rowlands is] a rare contemporary philosopher who is able to learn from everything he experiences in life, not just books and academic journals. That is what makes The Philosopher and the Wolf so refreshing’

‘Thoroughly touching ... deeply moving’ Lianne Steinberg

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