While it's nice to summarize the great thinking of the last 2 centuries, I generally hate this category of book. I'd rather just read the philosophy i...moreWhile it's nice to summarize the great thinking of the last 2 centuries, I generally hate this category of book. I'd rather just read the philosophy itself and then reflect on what it means.
I suppose if you haven't yet gotten through enough philosophical pieces, these are great to get you into the discourse so you can find your way around. However, they are always a shadow of the original thought.
If it hadn't been handed to me with a group of great reads, I would never have selected it. (less)
Once you make time for this novel, you won't be sorry. It is as pertinent today as it was in its initial writing. For Americans in particular, who in...moreOnce you make time for this novel, you won't be sorry. It is as pertinent today as it was in its initial writing. For Americans in particular, who in an election year face an unprecedented deficit, a deteriorating infrastructure system (bridges, electric grid, damns, roads, trains, subways), and rising commodity costs (grains, soy, cotton, metals, oil, gas, coal), this book is particularly thoughtful.
Before getting into the details, I would first address those that find it “too extreme”. While it is true, that Capitalism in its extreme is ugly and selfish; its roots lie in an attempt to inspire innovation and to advance society in toward being able to provide for the needs of all. In that regard, the setting of the early part of the century is necessary as it is difficult to see the importance of the argument she makes if one starts from the vantage of living in a modern economy where scarcity of resources is nearly non-existent and mobility is not an issue.
However, what I find particularly interesting is that she separates the accumulation of wealth as a means to accomplish something from the accumulation of wealth for no purpose. This is often the part of Capitalism that is misunderstood by those that would go the other extreme. Indeed, for proponents of socialism, one should understand exactly what the dangers are that she so eloquently shows through her narrative. Any construct of socialism, which does not address the fallacies which she indicates would be subject to that she describes in the novel. In particular, she does an excellent job and showing exactly why that which is good for the “greater good” is often confused with “justice” or “right”.
There are so many takeaways; I leave it to the reader of her novel to discover them. Here are a few of my favorites.
1. Equality must be equality. While many laws, organization/unions have arisen to protect against the “exploitation of the worker”, the inverse is as bad. Systems which exploit the talent of a few without compensation or recognition are doomed to failure.
2. The "greater good" when left to an uneducated, purposeless government, often resorts to fulfilling "immediate need", without consideration for long term growth, sustainability, or long horizon “greater good”. I find this particularly interesting as we enter this new century in the United States where we see markedly failing infrastructure and a massive deficit.
3. Most people are sheep. Regardless of how much wealth they or their families might have accrued, most blindly follow the lead/manipulation of others. As such, it is important that each individual make their own decisions and do their own research. Further, each person is accountable for their own actions and decisions.
4. When you are focused on who is accountable, nothing gets accomplished. True leadership is taking ownership. However, that does not make you popular. Your desire to be a leader can not be driven by a desire for people to like you.
its' a great read as long as you appreciate that Marx also wrote a ton of literature on democracy and come to this from a perspective of how to have a...moreits' a great read as long as you appreciate that Marx also wrote a ton of literature on democracy and come to this from a perspective of how to have a democracy in a capitalist economy.(less)
A must read for every American in high school. One has to read the classics by which our nation was based to truly understand how far off tilt this na...moreA must read for every American in high school. One has to read the classics by which our nation was based to truly understand how far off tilt this nation has spun.(less)
I know people love this stuff and in its time it was thought as pretty revolutionary. Personally, I think the Mandate of Heaven is perhaps better fles...moreI know people love this stuff and in its time it was thought as pretty revolutionary. Personally, I think the Mandate of Heaven is perhaps better fleshed out and pre-dates this by several centuries.(less)
I give Rousseau a lot of credit for taking the other side of what Science and the Arts can do to society,...moreI read this for Philosophy class. Not bad...
I give Rousseau a lot of credit for taking the other side of what Science and the Arts can do to society, i.e. corrupt. I get it. He lived in a period were artists tended to pander toward their rich benefactors; and as such made crappy art that proliferated in such fashion as to increase the demand for material wealth/luxury. And I can see how that could get kind of annoying.
But there is a little bit of romanticism as relates to savages of America who roam about freely and are so difficult to constrain. Dude, they are roaming around freely becasue they are hungry. Perhaps relative to an industrialising society it's a far better situation than starving by having your labor exploited, but it's not without its downside.
And you get the sense that there is a little bit of "who moved my cheese" anger when he talks about men of science who have uncovered mysteries like electricity that philosophers will never really get too much into. I get that art and science are downward driven by consumption of the two. That's kind of interesting. But the playing field/voices of discourse is expanded. Perhaps a good thing, Rousseau?
But I give him credit. The mean and immoral effects of art and science can be pretty bad. Underlying what he is saying is the manner in which art and science have blurred the line between rational and rationalization. Moreover, I give him props for seeing how art and science can be used as tools to further separate the have and the have nots and thereby inspire a generation of people to try to move over to the haves by taking advantage of the have nots. It's one of his first works, so you can't be too hard on him.
I saw this very short book in a bookstore and had to stop and read it. It was actually a far more interesting piece than I thought it would be (as ref...moreI saw this very short book in a bookstore and had to stop and read it. It was actually a far more interesting piece than I thought it would be (as reflects my rating).
Mcginn's entry into the discourse of linguistics with respect to human interaction, or more interestingly power interactions is somewhat unique. He articulates the differences of what he means by MindFucking vs. other forms of deception both external and internal. Rationalization and the ability of the mind to construct deceptions are matters which plague philosophical discourse and the search for truth.
In many other previous pieces, one finds a view of deceptive speak or elloquent speak as something which is violating; in such a way that the essence of man (whatever you might think that is) should revolt against it. Indeed, Mindfucking addresses the fact that there is something perverse but potentially satisifying in allowing the deception. Indeed, the potential for philosophy and academia to pervert the truth, i.e. the difference between the rational and rationalization and the tendancy of the latter to be a tool used by the brightest to "justify" much of what is negative in society, is not insignficant. To the extent there is pleasure in being deceived, this poses some very interesting problems for much of political philosophy.
In this regard, the last chapter is adorable. Though I'm sure he added it as a cheeky after thought, it is actually rather an important chapter. In presenting the idea of philosophical thought to potentially be arift with it's own biases, its own presausive desires, this chapter reminds the academic reader that "essay" as a form has a certain social utility.(less)
Not a bad translation, though a part of me still thinks I need to break down and learn the Chinese. This is actually my second read of the Tao Te Chin...moreNot a bad translation, though a part of me still thinks I need to break down and learn the Chinese. This is actually my second read of the Tao Te Ching; but I will probably revisit it again and again. The funny thing abou the Tao is that it is so simple and yet so difficult. It almost sounds like Laozi was screwing with you, but he wasn't.
I think what makes it interesting is that it is full of sentences that are inverted upon themselves to make you really think. The translations are a bit odd, but one gets the essence of what Laozi means in any language precisely because the Dao cuts through all the B.S. of language. The wise know they know nothing. Definitionally complicated but at the same time, really cool. The beginning is the end and the end is the beginning. How many annals of philosophical and psychological thought have been dedicated to this. So simple and yet not.
Reading this book humbles purported "learned" person into realizing their own deficiencies and reminds then that the path to enlightenment is not one that is lodged in an exploration of the external. While I recognized that poetry - and in particular, 8 character, super brief poetry - is the manner of the Eastern learned scholar, I still marvel at how adorable and light hearted such a structure is compared to the essay. You can almost smiling Laozi smiling relative to the "serious" attempts toward scholarly knowledge that one encouters. It is like a parent trying to keep a straight face at a child who is trying so hard to understand something so simple. A child that has made it all so complicated when it should be so simple. I dig the spirit of it.
This massively short philosophical piece gets high marks for multiple reasons. I saw it in the manybooks.com collection which provides free books. It...moreThis massively short philosophical piece gets high marks for multiple reasons. I saw it in the manybooks.com collection which provides free books. It stuck out because it was a female philosophers (we get so little air time). In the book, Annie Besant discusses what the role of the religion and the spiritual is with respect to morality. She has obviously been inspired by recent exposure to Hindu (eastern culture).
Her take as very different than those who make utilitarian and strength arguments. For this I adore her. Instead she notes that happiness is a construct which provides a veil for true discussions of truth and virtue.
I'm not quite sure yet what to make of her thoughts on the perversion of religion into that which moves away from virtue. But I do find it very interesting and different in the discourse of morality.
Her ideas on divinity - if there might not be a God - as just the way of being (i.e. it just is). Such fades beautifully into the ideas of daoism. Her ideas on the role of mysticism and cultures of non-whites are really unique for her time. Perhaps she is an early visionary that the philosophy of West must eventually conjoin with that of the East in the march of evolution of man's thinking.(less)
I gave it a 4 because I think what it is attempting to do is reintroduce the ability to use math in Political Science. The other thing it does that is...moreI gave it a 4 because I think what it is attempting to do is reintroduce the ability to use math in Political Science. The other thing it does that is rather noteworthy is it re-links economic thought to politics via math. I dig this, as these all got blasted apart as a function of the cold war.
I agree with Foley in that the Socio-Political-Economic environment is incredibly chaotic and must be described in this manner. However, I think he misses the meat to get an additional star. I'm not sure who the intended consumption of this book is. I also don't think his examples are fleshed out quite enough.(less)
Interesting story that happens just before Troy is invaded. It is a classic story of being true to justice, i.e. doing the right thing means doing it...moreInteresting story that happens just before Troy is invaded. It is a classic story of being true to justice, i.e. doing the right thing means doing it when it seems least beneficial to yourself. Neoptolemos suffers potential rath from Odysseus, but chooses to do the right thing instead of compromise his character. In doing so, he finds another way to reach the same goal; a way that was considered an impossibility. Great classic Greek tale.(less)