This book has given rise to millennia of clear thinking and to millennia of confusion. Some scholars hold that Aristotle's writings were not as much bThis book has given rise to millennia of clear thinking and to millennia of confusion. Some scholars hold that Aristotle's writings were not as much books as teaching notes. We cut him slack for being the inventor of the modern idea of logic and really, the first scientist. This does not mean that he is not shockingly obscurantist and full of what by our standards are bizarrely self-contradictory statements. In fact, were we at present to take his works for books-proper, we'd find in him––in the unlikely event that we were able to elide aeons of heroification and 'greatness' mongering––what is often simply very sloppy thinking. This knowledge is absolutely essential for reading Aristotle. In fact, it is impossible to understand him without understanding the huge ambition of his project and the countless ways in which, constantly, valiantly, he failed it. And how, like any good scientist, he tried again, changing and changing.
It is Aristotle––more than Plato, Darwin, Freud, Marx, Cicero, or Jesus, if not Socrates––who is the cenancestor of the Western mind.
This book contains the thirteen original fallacies, which originated and continue to confuse the modern "discipline" of fallacy theory. If you don't read ancient Greek, it is essential to read all three translations (Poste, Forster, and Pickard-Cambridge) in tandem if you want to get anywhere. It is extremely slow going either way.
The edition featured here (Kessinger) is a bullshit edition published by cynics who ineptly and with half an ass harvest public domain material for profit, couching their endeavors in the context of historical preservation. Just go to Google books. All three editions are available there for free.
But perhaps I would not be writing this at all had the Roman navy not accidentally perpetrated the greatest intellectual tragedy yet to occur on this planet. I'm talking about the horrible fact that, along with a million+ other unknowable volumes, Euclid's On Fallacies was lost with the Alexandrian Library. I'm simply sure that Euclid, who began to write during Aristotle's lifetime, would have clarified and corrected so much in this work. Oh inevitable sadness of the predigital age(s)....more
This is a greatly entertaining, snide, petulant, hilarious and rather tossed off little surrealist jig. It contains some great writing and great depraThis is a greatly entertaining, snide, petulant, hilarious and rather tossed off little surrealist jig. It contains some great writing and great depravity: I am thinking specifically of one character’s first person account of why it was absolutely imperative to the preservation of his sanity that he murder a certain ‘idiot’ dishwasher of his acquaintance. The physical descriptions of this idiot’s neck do clearly justify murder. But what I love most about the book is its disgust it with writing itself. This book is one of the best examples of that most compelling urge of certain writers to shit on and destroy their own writing. The problem is, rather fittingly, that it ends smack in the middle of itself, mid-breath almost, and to little effect. ...more
One of the most fascinating topics in world history given a rather under-edited and intellectually limp treatment. Did you know that the AlexandriansOne of the most fascinating topics in world history given a rather under-edited and intellectually limp treatment. Did you know that the Alexandrians invented the steam engine? That due to the plenitude of slave labor and the absence of coal, it was used only for entertainments and temple tricks? That the approximately 450-foot light house at Pharos, constructed of enormous stone blocks and mortar of molten lead, stood for nearly 1,600 years, despite being on a small island in a stormy sea on a fault line? Did you know that Christianity ruined civilization for 2,000 years (I learn this from the book, despite the book) by essentially criminalizing the scientific method? (Yes, we would be on Mars by now.) Did you know that the Alexandrians, not Copernicus, first proposed a heliocentric universe (yes, about 1,700 years before him)? Did you know that Eratosthenes of Cyrene measured the circumference of the earth using only a shadow, a well, an Alexandrian troop trained to measure distances by means of startlingly exact strides, trigonometry, and a frikking stick, all to within 300 miles of its actual circumference? ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Era... ) That this same Eratosthenes also measured the tilt of the earth's axis to within .3 degrees?
It's a solid shame that Charles Bowden, as though rebelling against the staid sterility of mere journalistic fact, wrote this book with such an excessIt's a solid shame that Charles Bowden, as though rebelling against the staid sterility of mere journalistic fact, wrote this book with such an excess of poetic style. Had he not, he might have won a pulitzer. NO ONE KNOWS what is in this book. It would have blown your mind. As it is, the egregious purple salad of its contents will have you looking askance at what are surely true, true facts. This book is the final exemplar of the potentials for political irresponsibility in poetic utterance....more