'I think therefore I am' Probably the most quoted philosophical reference around today. But people generally don't know what it means! Descartes is rep'I think therefore I am' Probably the most quoted philosophical reference around today. But people generally don't know what it means! Descartes is reputed as the Father of Modern Philosophy, the bringer of new ways of thinking, of revising our beliefs. Though a blatant sexist, speciesist and bigot he was a man of his time. His philosophy however was not. Imagine an evil genius, he has your brain in a jar somewhere and is manipulating it to make you believe all that you perceive around you. You can see, smell, feel, taste, hear and believe all of them. Descartes said that all of these senses could well be the creation of that evil genius and we have no reason to believe that the world around us it real. All that Descartes could safely assume was real was his mind. For if the mind was not real, how could the genius deceive you? Thought is the essence of man, it's reality. Descartes believed in something known commonly as Two Substance Dualism, and more academically as Cartesian Dualism. This states that humans have a material and a mental substance, each being separate. When the body dies the mind will survive as it is not dependant on the body, though the body needs the mind to make it human. At the time this was ground breaking, and it didn't contradict Christian orthodoxy (of whom Descartes was a pious believer). All of this is nowadays taken for granted, this knowledge of so pivotal a change in the book of history is equally relevant today. Though not my favourite philosophy (preferring works of Mill and Sartre) it is none the less core stuff and should appear on every self respecting philosophers shelves....more
The darkness and the iscolation of Raskolnikoff sucked me in and didnt let me go. I don't know what it is about russian literature (and especially DosThe darkness and the iscolation of Raskolnikoff sucked me in and didnt let me go. I don't know what it is about russian literature (and especially Dostoevsky) but it's darkness only adds to it's magnificence. The delirious characterisation, the insecurities, the tension of the murderer being captured; compelling as hell. This is without doubt my all time favourite book ever, and i've recomended it to anyone who dares to read a book from another century and in translation. So thats about one person in my friendship group hah. The wierd thing about it is that he is a murderer. He's a murder but you're rooting for him the whole way through. the perfect anti-hero and Dostoevsky pulls it off with great skill and aplomb. The constant threat of discovery is teeth clenching, the confusion of actual motive in crime, which probably alludes to the deep rooted madness of the authors genius, still allows for a virulent and terrible act such as murder to be seen as one of necessity and justice. I'm probably a pacifist, i would never kill anybody, not even to save my own life; i don't see the exchange of his life in return for my own to be of any improvement in the world. Having said that i wanted Raskolnikoff to get away with it. Books are not written this well anymore, please read this to enhance the richness of your knowledge in literature and pass it on to anyone else who has shied away from the imperiouis glare of old and foreign fiction. ...more
Sartre's lecture on Existentialism clarifies most of the common misconceptions people seem to end up with. Here's one of them: Essence comes before exisSartre's lecture on Existentialism clarifies most of the common misconceptions people seem to end up with. Here's one of them: Essence comes before existence. This is true of most things. A table for example can only be a finite amount of things, the carpenter knows what these are before he makes it and it has very little ability to change. The same is true for most living things as well. A bird just exists, it lives, feeds and eventually expires. Human beings however are different. Existentialism tells us that our existence comes before our essence. The point of human potential on this planet is limitless, we do not know what we are going to be until we are it. You realise when you are there what the point is. Humans have the ability to make their own freely involved choices in life, they are not tied into their essence like others are; it is a non fatalistic philosophy. The book also talks about the idea that existentialism can lead to seclusion in the universe; non belief in god which seemingly ascribes to nihilism and mistrust as would be expected towards an atheist: if you do not believe in god you are a threat, you could murder without care. Sartre corrects the misinterpretations and helps to answer the questions of a quizzical post war culture; new interest in metaphysics had arisen and existentialism proposed to hold some of the answers. I enjoyed the work but it is drawn together in a very dense way and is sometimes hard to follow. Sartre is a very clever man, a part of the intelligentsia of the time, however sometimes I feel he is being very pretentious and overly ostentatious in his description. ...more
A man ahead of his time John Stuart Mill wrote this with the understated help of his wife and lifetime accomplice Harriet Taylor. 'The only purpose foA man ahead of his time John Stuart Mill wrote this with the understated help of his wife and lifetime accomplice Harriet Taylor. 'The only purpose for which power can be rightly excercised over any member of a civilised community against his will is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant' In this Mill's finest work he discusses the right and important role of indivdual liberty and the benefits to society. Without this liberty, he says, the world will degenerate into dead dogma. Views that are suppressed lead to views that are out of date. Individuality is the hope for the future. Mill was criticised heavily for this work, indeed even by his own Utilitarian brethren. Society had little place for the everyday proletariat/layman and without this work, who knows, the world may have been a much darker and less egalitarian place. A cornerstone in British, and indeed any philosophy. ...more
Philip K Dick is an excellent writer and creator of new ideas, his mind is spasmodic and undulating it reaches to the most hidden recesses of creationPhilip K Dick is an excellent writer and creator of new ideas, his mind is spasmodic and undulating it reaches to the most hidden recesses of creation and ingenuity. This, however brilliantly designed book, doesn't hit the mark as far as I am used to in Dick's work. The basic story is of a man from a small town called Millgate, who is returning to find rediscover himself in his childhood. When he gets there the town in changed, nothing is as he remembered and no one remembers the Ted Barton he thinks he was. In fact Theodore Barton as he is remembered now, died when he was very young of a rare disease. Throughout the book Ted tries to discover what went wrong and his quest for discovery turns into one of escape. The story's ideas seem to be based on a kind of eastern mythology, with gods fighting forever over an everlasting battleground. It is clever though at times slightly unbelievable (some of the peripheral things just simply wouldn't happen in real life) and though i enjoyed it i am glad it was as short as it was. If you really want to get a better grounding of Dick read 'The Man in the High Castle' which is about a kind of Dystopia explaining what might have happened if Hitler won world war two....more
It has none of the cadence of poetry. None of its metre, no measured beats in weighted lines. It has no rhyme, and by any measure could not adequatelyIt has none of the cadence of poetry. None of its metre, no measured beats in weighted lines. It has no rhyme, and by any measure could not adequately be described as a poem. It is prose, but as far from prosaic as it is possible to be. Each word in each line is the breath in the steady flux that is THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA. Every line takes us onwards, out to sea, into desolation and discovery. Out from the shore and not looking back we read every touch of the poen as we read every stroke of the brush on a Turner sea-scape. From a distance. And then, so close we can almost smell the salt splashed against the bow of the rickety old boat. We are there, among the slices of simplicity; a moment, before, mere notes in a journal, now, perfectly art. No test is made and no patience wains in the mere 100 pages. In fact a new form of novella is born, a new way of seeing the world. Through the eyes of one, but then, another and then the beating of the heart begins. Every scratch from the tautened line cuts into the hand that holds the book, every twist and turn of the great fish levels all other thoughts to background noise. Perseverance, challenge, for what? Finishing the book, it could have gone on for 4000 pages, but it did not need to, the message is there for those who would dwell in such things. Mans greed, the futility of pursuit for material gains, the beauty of nature and mans relationship to it. We are travellers, the old man and i, the fish and the sea, together weaving a course into the unklnown, waiting for one to tire. Will is strong in this book, and again in the reader. Never have i read poetry so fine in art that could not be farther from poetry....more
His name is prot. Is he mad? Or could his strange story really be true? Prot claims that he is from the planet K-PAX, a utopia where there is no such tHis name is prot. Is he mad? Or could his strange story really be true? Prot claims that he is from the planet K-PAX, a utopia where there is no such thing as murder or crime, government does not exist, everyone lives in harmony and the beings all have the ability of light travel. The story is told from the point of view of Prot's psychiatrist or doctor 'Gene' while he is staying in the Metropolitan Institude for the clinicall ill. The chapters take the form of sessions in which Gene (the same name as the author) tries to unravel what he believes to be prot's delusions and help him find his real self. The book has twists and turns and keeps you hooked right up until the breathtaking denoument of surprising consequence. The audience are left to make their own minds up as to whether prot really is from K-Pax and if you really want to know then i urge you to read the set. This is the classic and rightly so but they are all just as enlightening as the others. Prot's wisdom is in itself worth the read, he seems like a Christ like figure or a Gandhi type; curing the patients of MPI under the agitated eyes of the doctors and smiling at the flagrant misuse humans have put to their world. I have rarely been so impressed from a novel and this has spurred me onto a rollercoaster ride of reading science fiction. His name is prot. Is he mad? Or could his strage story really be true?...more
Gogol wrote dead souls perhaps with a view to a kill, to warn society of the inherent dangers of federal bureaucracy, semi-fuedalistic society and undGogol wrote dead souls perhaps with a view to a kill, to warn society of the inherent dangers of federal bureaucracy, semi-fuedalistic society and underhand businessmen who will go to any means to achieve their ends.
The story portrays Chichikov, of the merchant class, a cunning individual who resolves to acquire the dead serfs (souls) of the country's land owners. These souls still appear on the census and thus the landowners arestill paying tax on them even though they are not useful. Chichikov convinces each of the brilliantly realised landowners (one of gogol's fantastic abilities was the creation of truly unique characters) that he is doing them a favour even though he intends to mortgage the dead souls and thus better himself with the profits.
Though the book was never finished it is a thrill to read. The seemingly simple story is given poignancy through the use of an authorative narrator who unwittingly mocks Russian society for its inherent flaws and adds a dark comic flavour to the depiction of very real and very Russian character types.
Gogol wasn't appreciated in his time. He befriended Pushkin though who said that gogol did not so much as invent stories or characters, but depicted the world as it really was. He influenced a plethora or brilliant writers such as Turgenev, (who was imprisoned for writing gogol's eulogy)Belinksy, Tolstoy and many others.
His sole importance in this work was to depict the truth.
A perfectionist, like all truly great artists, gogol was not happy with the vast proportion of his work. He constantly asked the public (both upper and lower class, both journalist and everyman) to critique his work and he even burned the entire second part of the novel before starting to rewrite it.
As stated the work was never finished but this makes Dead Souls no less of a masterpiece. The first part is lucid, progressive and before its time. A socio-political masterpiece that was far from a pean to how great Russia was, it did not depict the society with an intention of appearing false. The second part is clunky and fragmented, vast gaps are left out and were lost and no epiphany can be found as the third part wasnt even started. None the less this is a trivial criticism and does not influence my rating. It would be unfair to criticise a man for something that he died writing....more
An underrated (when looking at the relative fame of those such as Clapton, Santana and George Harrison) extremely sensitive, blues ridden musical iconAn underrated (when looking at the relative fame of those such as Clapton, Santana and George Harrison) extremely sensitive, blues ridden musical icon, Peter Green is a true inspiration to me. The Biography is far from overly flattering and seems hard to get a hold of but outlines the basic features of his life. There are interviews with the man himself (though of course he is far from together in his mind now) and all of the old Fleetwood Mac. If you have never heard of the man then i do urge you to read this book which is interesting as a tie-in to the 'Man Of The World: The Peter Green Story' DVD Biopic. B.B. King once said that he was 'the only man who could send shivers down my spine', this is a man who plays the blues from his soul. His song writing is almost as soul shattering as his singing and guitar playing and such songs as 'I loved another woman, Man of the World, and the Green Manalishi' left me speechless. I would recommend this book for any fan of the late 60's blues revival and anyone who thinks Eric Clapton is the best white blues guitarist ever...they may wish to change their minds....more
A moral fable of great intensity and worthy of praise, however much plagiarism it involves. Without directly crediting its forerunner, a hundred and oA moral fable of great intensity and worthy of praise, however much plagiarism it involves. Without directly crediting its forerunner, a hundred and one arabian nights, The Alchemist borrows the didactic plot of the shepherd in 'The Dream', who travels across the desert, only to realise the treasure he has been searching for is at home. This, perhaps picky, but highly relevant point aside I would not discourage the reader. I highly enjoyed The Alchemist and can see why Coelho has sold over 60 million books worldwide. They are easy to read, judging from the simple fable like language of The Alchemist, whose plot is simple, language is memorable and whose characters are few and well realised.
Speaking as someone who has struggled from depression and lack of direction i felt highly uplifted and positive after reading The Alchemist. Short at just 160 pages, the book can be tackled over a rainy afternoon at home or over a few toilet breaks at work. i'd recommend for budding travellers and those with spiritual interests outside the mainstream religions. The book's whole philosophy is that of the world as a collective subconscious whose inhabits experience life subconsciously and can communicate through the world language, that of feeling omens.
This is a book about seeking ones true destiny and how the world collaborates to help the true seeker on his way. Perhaps we should all give Coelho a shot, even if he is a plagiariser :P...more
A clever and funny novel about a young man, a time machine, and a world without Adolf Hitler. Fry's rhetoric is catching, sublime and full of gem-likeA clever and funny novel about a young man, a time machine, and a world without Adolf Hitler. Fry's rhetoric is catching, sublime and full of gem-like wit. He is one of the few authors that can make me laugh out loud in a half stifled fit of mirth, and this novel is no exception to the trend stared in his first work: 'The Liar'. The basic idea is of an alternative present day world without the existance of hitler. It's a kind of comic version of 'The man in the High Castle', but brought about through the cunning use of a little known drug that makes people infertile. It has his usual rambling and poignant style that grips like a vice and let's you go only at the unexpected conclusion. I would recommend this work to anyone who likes Fry's usual humour. Expect sexual references.
A short book but one that brings a difficult and unknown subject into a manageable and understandable light. The book encompases the basic conceptionA short book but one that brings a difficult and unknown subject into a manageable and understandable light. The book encompases the basic conception of the everyday buddhist religion and explains the background that started the faith. I think buddhism is a very approachable religion because it doesnt prescribe to end pre set dogmatised texts or places of worship. It explains how we are all one and how we are all trying to get through the seven stages of being to become the enlightened. I had some understanding before hand but i now realise the scope and depth of this fascinating subject and this book has inspired some small change in belief. Though the book is not intended as a persuasive text the beliefs shown are quite attractive and may make you open your eyes to more than what you currently believe; challenging your preconceptions and understanding of the world. ...more