There's just too much for me to say about this book. For some of my thoughts about it and about Harris more generally just check out this review and t...moreThere's just too much for me to say about this book. For some of my thoughts about it and about Harris more generally just check out this review and the comments beneath:
An excellent book to hand to those who deny the veracity of the continually enlarging body of evidence that supports biological evolution or think "in...moreAn excellent book to hand to those who deny the veracity of the continually enlarging body of evidence that supports biological evolution or think "intelligently designed" evolution is a well-supported idea, and even to those who say they believe that evolution is real yet don't quite understand why (a category which I've found many people fall under).
Shermer is well-positioned to write towards the beliefs of the religious who think that evolutionary theory is bogus since he was once one them: Shermer was a evangelical Christian for a few years before rejecting the whole thing.(less)
This is an extremely sound-bite-ish "scarcely mammalian noise" of a fraction of a sliver of a byproduct of a spark of a blurb regarding this book:
I can’t say enough about Berman’s book, really. He lays out a very interesting and condensed yet comprehensive historical analysis of fascistic movements and the mythology based death-cults that fuel them. He carries this out by drawing from political history and theory (obviously), philosophy, and even literary works and movements such as the brief but effective references to Baudelaire and Camus. The parallels he fleshes out between these types of movements and the deep historical time-lines and conceptual trajectories that they occupy and create are very, very incisively perceptive and striking. Again, I think it’s a great book.
The basic thing that people like Paul Berman, Bernard-Henri Levy, Sam Harris (all left leaning liberals generally) and others have and continue to point out clearly and compellingly is that there is a general trend of delusional thinking on "the left" about the realities of what’s going on around the world and of a tendency to succumb to the pitfalls of selectively applying moral relativism (which is the way it's always applied and is subsequently its initial and key failure) and/or hypocrisy in an often times rather perilous way. The chapter "Wishful Thinking" was especially salient in its focus on these points and took Chomsky to task for many of his egregiously misinformed stances on international affairs.
A frightening analysis of those who have the courage of their Bible-based convictions. Goldberg's analysis draws considerably from Hannah Arendt's The...moreA frightening analysis of those who have the courage of their Bible-based convictions. Goldberg's analysis draws considerably from Hannah Arendt's The Origins of Totalitarianism.(less)
Here Nietzsche returns to the form of the essay after several complete works largely composed aphoristically. The second essay in the polemic On the G...moreHere Nietzsche returns to the form of the essay after several complete works largely composed aphoristically. The second essay in the polemic On the Geneology of Morals is excellent and my personal favorite of the three essays that comprise this work. He discusses the historical tossings and turnings that have led to weird inversions of moral standards throughout the ages. The ways in which many eggs are often broken to make various omelettes and how the omelettes often turn out much differently than intended. Social psychology at its most fearless and polemicized.
Ecce Homo (tr. "Behold the man!" in reference to Pontius Pilate's presentation of Jesus to the blood thirsty crowd) is interesting as well. Nietzsche gives several short "reviews" of each of his own books written up until that time, some are a bit forgettable, some a bit more interesting. For a good example of official self-critique see his essay ("Attempt at Self-Criticism") about his first book The Birth of Tragedy which can be found in the intro to some copies of the same book.
The rest of this Beholding of the Man consists of four short chapters entitled "Why I Am So Wise", "Why I Am So Clever", "Why I Write Such Good Books", and "Why I Am a Destiny". These are probably best read as something written on the brink of insanity and steeped in deliberate irony and sarcasm--but not completely. I'll just admit that I had a hard time taking much of it all that seriously. For several pages Nietzsche goes on about his ideas concerning nutrition. He also equates drinking alcohol with subscribing to Christianity. It's a bit of a laugh riot from some angles but one that includes a series of doubtful and perplexed moments about from where or why the laughter comes.(less)