A lot of the details appear to be more conjecture than fact. Outside of this rather large concern, the prose is lively and gives a definite feel of thA lot of the details appear to be more conjecture than fact. Outside of this rather large concern, the prose is lively and gives a definite feel of the atmosphere and ideas of the time making for a rather interesting - albeit cautious - read. ...more
As a child I never liked it when an adult answered a question I asked with, "Because that's how it is" or some similar aversion. Thankfully, Darwin waAs a child I never liked it when an adult answered a question I asked with, "Because that's how it is" or some similar aversion. Thankfully, Darwin wasn't satisfied either.
Darwin's greatest achievement here isn't the incredible collection of evidence he amassed and organized, nor is it simply the idea of evolution by natural selection (although both are worthy of 5 star reviews and a place in every science textbook on their own). His greatest achievement is fundamentally changing how we view the world and our place in it to a magnitude equal to or surpassing Copernicus's revolution. The idea that slight changes over time are as powerful a tool to build from the bottom up what we once thought could only come by magic from the top down is truly, as Dan Dennett puts it, dangerous. It undermines the legitimacy of top-heavy power structures, it calls into question core assumptions we've made about the world, and most importantly it provides us with a method to change the world (hopefully for the better and hopefully not so gradually if it is for the better). ...more
Locke makes a very strong case for the separation of church and state and personal life. However, his logic breaks down several times and - Locke beinLocke makes a very strong case for the separation of church and state and personal life. However, his logic breaks down several times and - Locke being a philosopher - that is a major flaw.
Firstly, he states that whether Christian, Jew, Muslim, Pagan, Buddhist you have an equal right to practice your religion wherever you are and that no government can 'determine' your religion for you. Good. Oh, atheists don't count, Locke just feels that they can't possibly be correct and consequently shouldn't have rights. I'm not sure how much of this comes from living in the age of witch and heretic burning and how much he actually believed... but philosophy must be rooted in the truth, so Locke fails massively here. There is no reason that a person shouldn't have the right to not worship if you follow Locke's logic on tolerance to the logical conclusion.
The second major flaw is that people never rise up because of religion, it is always because they are being oppressed. What were the crusades about then? A person has to be willfully blind to think that religious zealotry (or just plain zealotry) hasn't been a major force in persecution and revolts throughout history and even to this day.
Lastly, this book aligns to closely with the modern moral/cultural relativism movement with its proposal for universal tolerance of all things religion for my tastes. Even if it didn't infringe on my rights, I'd never stand by as the followers of Pallas Athena sacrificed a child. I think Locke would say that this is a place for the magistrate to impose, but he never addressed the point. I hope he would agree. ...more
A play about selling your soul to Satan was probably as edgy as anything in 1590. While reading it I keep wondering how a 16th century crowd would reaA play about selling your soul to Satan was probably as edgy as anything in 1590. While reading it I keep wondering how a 16th century crowd would react to such a work, and seeing that witch-burning was alive and well (thankfully no witch ever died), I imagine many a Puritan suffered from restlessness, nightmares, and a fear of latin words after seeing it. So perhaps this deserves another star. Perhaps. It was certainly more readable than Goethe's take....more