You Matter: The human solution, by Delia Smith

Author: Delia Smith. Review by Howard W Hilton

‘One might think one was reading a Quaker text.’ | Photo: Book cover of You Matter: The human solution, by Delia Smith

Yes, this book is by that Delia – the one who taught us to cook, the part owner of Norwich City Football Club. The years have passed and she has turned from food and football to philosophy. Much influenced by the writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the (almost heretical) French priest and academic, she has written this book of thirty-six short chapters, separated into three sections: ‘Rethinking thinking’; ‘None of us is as smart as all of us’; and ‘The human is the solution’. She says her husband read and criticised each chapter as she wrote it, and did the cooking while she wrote, brave man! At an early stage she quotes Abraham Maslow, US psychologist and originator of the ‘Hierarchy of Human Needs’, urging us to seek self-realisation for our mental health by spending time in silence and stillness – starting small (ten minutes) but gradually building up. One might think one was reading a Quaker text, but she came to this through Sufism (she became a Roman Catholic in her twenties). Smith quotes Francis Crick saying that the emergence of life itself was a miracle, such were the odds against it, and then her thesis is that evolution’s work on living creatures made a huge step forward when humans developed the power of speech and so of reflective thinking. The conceptualisation allowed by speech gives us the capacity to record and reflect upon our past, to analyse the present, and to speculate about possible futures, whether materially and scientific/technical, or socio/political. This is why You Matter, for we are now at the developing edge of evolution, which has not yet reached its ultimate.

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