In a way, this book was comical. Remember the scene in the movie Idiocracy where the military guy researches pimps and becomes obsessed with UpgrayeddIn a way, this book was comical. Remember the scene in the movie Idiocracy where the military guy researches pimps and becomes obsessed with Upgrayedd? Parts of this book felt like Robert Greene was that guy posing in pictures with Upgrayedd and saying "A pimp's love is very different from that of a square." I just couldn't really take him seriously when he talked about "the hood" and called him "Fifty."
That being said, I liked the book. I really just love Robert Greene, but out of all his books Mastery is by far my favorite. In fact, I think Mastery is the most inspiring book I've ever read. One of the most enjoyable aspects of this book for me was seeing how the concepts of Mastery were developed. This book seems like the transition between 48 Laws of Power and Mastery. Developing your power to attain excellence.
I agree with some of the other reviewers who note that Greene repeats himself an awful lot. I am not sure why. At times, it reads as if the chapters were written by different people at the same time and nobody proofread it for repetition. How many times do I have to hear that Fiddy was attacked and dropped from his label? Once was plenty.
However, I think the advice in the book was solid. And Greene, in usual badass form, presents an amazing case. I've never spent so much time pondering fearlessness or examining how becoming more fearless could improve my life. ...more
I really enjoyed this book. I love Malcolm Gladwell's style. It's kind of intimate and folksy, like I'm listening to an episode of This American Life.I really enjoyed this book. I love Malcolm Gladwell's style. It's kind of intimate and folksy, like I'm listening to an episode of This American Life.
It's a nice marriage of a couple of my favorite books. Mastery by Robert Greene tells us how the Masters gained their excellence and how we can do the same. It's through finding a unique path and then expending tremendous effort in its pursuit. And The Seekers by Daniel Boorstin gives us the story of how human thought has advanced. Small advances by extraordinary people give us new ways of understanding What Is. But the Seekers gives us the stories of these thinkers, their hometowns, their upbringing, and the historical context that shaped them. It explains how human thought progresses, with individual people as its vehicle.
Outliers tells us that extraordinary people became that way due to both extraordinary opportunity (based on their historical context) and exceptional hard work (being prepared with 10,000 hours of work when the opportunity arose).
When post-structuralism came along it made structuralism seem infantile. Historicism gave way to New Historicism. Events cannot be understood without context. Despite our juvenile American obsession with the self-made-bootstrapper, whenever we look deeper, we find that any one thing is a product of everything else around it....more
Hmm. Well, okay. I learned a few things from this book. I started it as an atheist and I needed no convincing that faith causes much more damage thanHmm. Well, okay. I learned a few things from this book. I started it as an atheist and I needed no convincing that faith causes much more damage than good and deserves no special reverence. So I suppose that makes me the choir that Sam was preaching to.
Even so, one of the major feelings I came away with is that Sam Harris is just kind of a douche. I can't place my finger on it. But I suppose it was his overall tone. I agreed with much of what he said...
I think I discovered why in his section on relativism. That section presents the world in an almost autistically rigid way and I wondered if Sam's atheism and douchiness just comes from an inability to imagine things in a different way. I felt the same way after reading his essay on Lying and felt it even stronger in this book. I think that most of us would agree that there is some kind of "public" truth that exists outside of our perception of us. Most of us operate under the assumption that this public time and space is something that we are privy to but occurs outside of us. But... can anyone actually prove that? Nope. For all I know, I am the only thing that exists and all of this is in my mind. No philosopher has ever been able to prove this but somehow Sam is dogmatically certain that this is the case. Honestly, this inability to even consider the alternative seems like religion to me. And maybe this explains his inability to imagine the *why* behind religion. Without knowing why people believe, you can't appeal to them. And this book won't appeal to them in any way, shape or form. But I suppose that wasn't his goal.
That isn't to say the book doesn't present some great arguments and evoke a lot of thought. It does. For me, in particular, I came away with the notion that Islam is not just an average religion amplified by a marginalized people into violence. The violence is inherent in the religion. And Islam is just a more extreme version of the same set of problems all religions share.
And then there was this quote, which contains a beautiful and simple insight the encapsulates ethics: "Consider it: every person you have ever met, every person you will pass in the street today, is going to die. Living long enough, each will suffer the loss of his friends and family. All are going to lose everything they love in this world. Why would one want to be anything but kind to them in the meantime?"
Anyway, I suppose the insights outweigh the problems, but I think Dawkins does a much better job handling the subject in The God Delusion. I'd skip this one and read Dawkins....more
I listened to this audiobook, so my review is about that. I had a fantastic time listening to the 16 or so hours of this book. I loved the narrative tI listened to this audiobook, so my review is about that. I had a fantastic time listening to the 16 or so hours of this book. I loved the narrative the voice of the book. It was really personal, like I was listening to my grandfather talk about people he knew. The tone was cheeky and the humor dry which was only emphasized by the British narrator. I felt like I could hear his wry smile throughout. The tone only served to emphasize the excellent amalgamation knowledge from all branches of science. In summary, it was super informative and really fun. What more can you ask of a pop-science book?...more
When is it okay to lie? When is it not? Sam has opinions which he'll gladly tell you. But they seem a bit arbitrary to me.
On top of that, the writingWhen is it okay to lie? When is it not? Sam has opinions which he'll gladly tell you. But they seem a bit arbitrary to me.
On top of that, the writing is incredibly dry. I do think the subject could be interesting (especially if approached by an author with a less simplistic but more internally consistent view), but Sam's take didn't do it for me. There's no sense of humor, there's no exploration, there's just simple and dry utterance of what amounts to moralism.
But let's take an example he gives. Someone asks Sam if he is overweight. Sam admits that he knows the guy wants reassurance. Sam tells the guy he needs to lose 25 pounds. And it must be all well and good because the guy then went and lost 15 pounds. (Doesn't everybody need to be thin?)
First off, what was the guy asking Sam? Not with his words, but what was he emotionally requesting from Sam? Reassurance. But Sam doesn't focus on his friend's emotions, but decides instead to use this as a moment to criticize. You're 25 lbs overweight. He got hung up on the actual words and did not answer the real question (will you reassure me?).
Who is being dishonest here? Would it be dishonest to act like you're answering someone's question because you were able to use their words to justify leveling a criticism, regardless of their intention? Would it be dishonest to decide that I am the one person who gets to judge what all my friends should weigh?
Maybe it was as simple-minded and moralistic as Sam made it out to be, but I think the book would've been far more interesting and believable if Sam was more honest about the situation, or if his book was about why he can't be totally honest about it. Or if the book were about exploring the complexities of why this is not a straightforward situation to begin with.
When Sam tries to get out of the situation where his friend is asking if he likes the gift they gave him and weasels out of saying no, didn't he just contradict the shit he wrote before that part? And then it's okay to lie in war.
Meh. He tried to build some kind of ethical argument, but he ended up hiding behind morality. Grey is the new black and white, Sam. Didn't you get the memo?
How about, don't lie to yourself about why you are telling people things? Don't tell yourself you have good intentions when you have bad intentions. That's ethics.
Levinas does this a lot more simply. The Other makes a claim on me which lets me know that he and I are similar and both have rights to our desires. From that realization alone, I know the good. That's ethics.
For some reason I had a lot more trouble getting through this one than his last two. Took me three times, but I'm glad I stuck it out. The last sectioFor some reason I had a lot more trouble getting through this one than his last two. Took me three times, but I'm glad I stuck it out. The last section about being inside a simulation was pure delightful mental bubble gum. All in all, the concepts were fascinating and Greene was on point with his analogies, which are always surprising in their ability to express complex topics quite simply. For that reason, he's my favorite science writer. ...more
I really enjoyed this book. Obviously the subject of consciousness is endlessly fascinating and Koch is one of the accomplished people in the field. II really enjoyed this book. Obviously the subject of consciousness is endlessly fascinating and Koch is one of the accomplished people in the field. I read Quest for Consciousness and although it was super interesting, I felt like I was trying to walk through molasses. Maybe it's the fact that this one is a "memoir," but it seems like Koch just walks the reader through what is most personally interesting to him about his studies and as a result, the book is streamlined and always interesting.
Perhaps the reason I gave it 5 stars, however, is his personal journey. The "romantic" in him yearns for the simple childlike explanations that his early religious training gave him. But the reductionist in him wants to come up with a reductive theory that is true. As a fellow exile, I related deeply to this struggle and found it interesting to be let in on Koch's thought processes.
The whole experience was highly enjoyable for me....more