2.5 stars. Because the further readings are terrible: just compare them with James Rachels's Problems from Philosophy. Because the writing is unnecess2.5 stars. Because the further readings are terrible: just compare them with James Rachels's Problems from Philosophy. Because the writing is unnecessarily repetitive and generally weak otherwise: entire clauses appear more than once within successive paragraphs, only partially modified. And because Law's only "dead cert" seems to be god's non-existence: almost every chapter has a "Conclusions" section stating that no definitive conclusions are possible for that topic. But because i so eagerly want to argue with him—especially about the Paradoxes chapter—i'll grant an extra half star. Maybe he'll feel so grateful that he'll ring me up for a cup of tea and some heated debate.
Of all the lamenesses in the Paradoxes, the following seems simplest to knock over. Law claims that at the time this book was written the following "paradox continues to perplex philosophers of language":
A boy challenges his father's assertion that "Santa Claus doesn't exist" is a true assertion. The boy gets his father to agree that names refer to something; in short, they allow us to talk about that something meaningfully. But, reasons the boy, if Santa Claus doesn't exist, then the name refers to nothing and his father's assertion literally makes no sense. Thus, Santa Claus must exist.
I doubt anybody had lengthy arguments about this statement or similar ones. Yes, one could intentionally misinterpret that sentence to mean "There is no such name as 'Santa Claus'," or "No existent beings have ever been named 'Santa Claus'," but that kind of bullshit belongs in the same trashbin as what Law calls "boring relativism," so let's ignore it completely. (view spoiler)[The sentence in question has an obvious meaning of something like "There actual being named 'Santa Claus' has ever exhibited or possessed all the defining characteristics of the fictional personage we are referring to by that name. The intended referent is clearly the fictitious/mythical being. More elaborately: there are exactly zero beings whom English-speaking Americans refer to as Santa Claus who live at the North Pole; employ myriad elves as toy-makers; ride thru the sky on a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer on Christmas night delivering gifts to all the world's good children; and have cheeks like roses, a nose like a cherry, and a belly that shakes like a bowl full of jelly. Furthermore, (hide spoiler)]Please don't bore me with your intentional obtuseness of linguistic ambiguity. When i say, "Fantasy Island doesn't exist," you know that i don't mean that the TV program called Fantasy Island doesn't exist; and you know that i don't mean that the island called "Fantasy Island" on the TV show of the same name does not exist within the show's own fictional world; and, mainly, you know that i mean that the eponymous island depicted on that TV program does not exist anywhere other than within the fictional world of that show (and of course as an "idea" in our heads when we speak of that show/island). Yeah, Fantasy Island exists, but it ain't the same kind of existence as when i say that the Hawaiian islands exist.
Decidedly not a paradox. For me. A brief search of the interwebs churns up some less than high caliber forum and wiki debates about this exact "paradox" as well as some stuff about Curry's Paradox, which involves a self-referential statement involving Santa Claus. I wonder if Law was thinking of this when he claimed his Santa paradox is still being debated. I also wonder if some smarty pants out there in Goodreads land would be so kind as to point out the flaw in my attempted refutation above. (waiting to be humiliated)["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I can't believe that my estimation is correct but Rachels seemed to have almost a supernatural ability to summarize religious philosophical ideas withI can't believe that my estimation is correct but Rachels seemed to have almost a supernatural ability to summarize religious philosophical ideas without condescension even as he switched to the rebutting secular philosophical ideas. I kept wondering, "Wait, is this guy a full-fledged Christian?" and then i'd say, "Wait, is this guy completely secular?" For a brief intro to philosophy such as this one, i doubt you'll find a more balanced or objective author.
By the way, i would bet that he was a nonbeliever. Whatever that means....more
3.5 stars, and i think i'm rounding down because i'm doubly chauvinist: in the 1970s way, meaning sexist; and in the 21st century way, meaning i have3.5 stars, and i think i'm rounding down because i'm doubly chauvinist: in the 1970s way, meaning sexist; and in the 21st century way, meaning i have a hard time believing that non-human earthlings have consciousness. Also, the subtitle strikes me as more of a cynical marketing tool than an accurate expansion of the main title....more
If you like the synopsis (penned by the author himself), then you should really like the book.
I know this Guy, though, so maybe i'm biased, but i enjoIf you like the synopsis (penned by the author himself), then you should really like the book.
I know this Guy, though, so maybe i'm biased, but i enjoyed reading it from start to finish with only a couple stutter steps where my haste to get to the next part didn't gibe with some of his more ironically brocaded prose. Speaking of brocaded: check out this dude's thesaurus!
Guy's a good ol' fashioned story tellin' machine. As the "about the author" section implies, he's a fan of tall tales, urban legends, yarn spinning, Tarantino-esque plot, characterization, and overall sensibility. Maybe that's why the tone frequently reminded me of good movie voice-overs or why Sam Elliott would be perfect for the recorded book. (Let's get to work arranging that, Andrew.)
Note: this tale ain't appropriate for your little ones. For example, i'm struggling to decide which nephews should get copies as Xmas gifts. (do they gotta be old enough to drive?)
I raced through this book, but i didn't much enjoy any part of it. Rather than just reiterate what everybody else has said, i'll pointlessly include mI raced through this book, but i didn't much enjoy any part of it. Rather than just reiterate what everybody else has said, i'll pointlessly include my attempt from mid-2014 to create a list of nonfiction books that might represent modern American culture. (What would you add/delete to improve it?)
This book reveals something about you when you talk about it. Compare the key phrases in the 5- and 4-star reviews with the key phrases in the 1- andThis book reveals something about you when you talk about it. Compare the key phrases in the 5- and 4-star reviews with the key phrases in the 1- and 2-star reviews. That's all i'm sayin....more
...you will find that the largest portion of our life passes while we are doing ill, a goodly share while weFor now i'll let Seneca speak for himself.
...you will find that the largest portion of our life passes while we are doing ill, a goodly share while we are doing nothing, and the whole while we are doing that which is not to the purpose...
You must linger among the limited number of master thinkers, and digest their works, if you would derive ideas which shall win firm hold in your mind.
...since you cannot read all the books which you may possess, it is enough to possess only as many books as you can read.
What is so absurd as to seek death, when it is through fear of death that you have robbed your life of peace?
When we can never prove whether we really know a thing, we must always be learning it.
...always think on death in order that you may never fear it.
Their prayers plunder many another person, simply that you may be enriched. Whatever they make over to you must be removed from someone else.
...the height of unhappiness is reached when men are not only attracted, but even pleased, by shameful things...
...speech that deals with the truth should be unadorned and plain.
...it is foolish to pray for this when you can acquire it from yourself.
But he hates those who make an ungoverned use of great power suddenly acquired.
These men simply lack the means whereby they may unfold their wickedness.
In the case of many men, their cruelty, ambition, and indulgence only lack the favor of Fortune to make them dare crimes that would match the worst.
Our stupidity may be clearly proved by the fact that we hold that "buying" refers only to the objects for which we pay cash, and we regard as free gifts the things for which we spend our very selves. These we should refuse to buy, if we were compelled to give in payment for them our houses or some attractive and profitable estate; but we are eager to attain them at the cost of anxiety, of danger, and of lost honor, personal freedom, and time; so true it is that each man regards nothing as cheaper than himself.
...no one can live happily who has regard to himself alone and transforms everything into a question of his own utility.
Choose as a guide one whom you will admire more when you see him act than when you hear him speak.
We are weak, watery beings standing in the midst of unrealities...
...how can a man learn, in the struggle against his vices, an amount that is enough, if the time which he gives to learning is only the amount left over from his vices?
What hinders us most of all is that we are too readily satisfied with ourselves...
I was born to a greater destiny than to be a mere chattel of my body...
Every honorable act is voluntary.
It is not the material that makes these actions good or bad; it is the virtue.
...we are constrained to acknowledge that there are great differences among the very followers of wisdom.
...no man in public life thinks of the many whom he has outstripped; he thinks rather of those by whom he is outstripped.
...it is a bad sort of existence that is spent in apprehension.
...virtue will not fall upon you by chance.
A man is as wretched as he has convinced himself that he is.
...a man can display bravery even when wrapped in his bed-clothes.
...goodness does not mean merely being better than the lowest.
All that goes to make you a good man lies within yourself. And what do you need in order to become good? To wish it.
Leisure without study is death...
...there are implanted in us love of self, a desire for existence and self-preservation, and also an abhorrence of dissolution...
Our thoughts are devoted only to what we are about to do. And yet our plans for the future always depend on the past.
...weariness is the aim and end of exercise...
...drunkenness is nothing but a condition of insanity purposely assumed.
...what men call pleasures are punishments as soon as they have exceeded due bounds.
...since my passion for literature makes me lazy and careless about my body, I can take exercise by deputy...
...good health does not mean moderate illness.
...bravery is not thoughtless rashness, or love of danger, or the courting of fear-inspiring objects; it is the knowledge which enables us to distinguish between that which is evil and that which is not.
...the establishments which had drawn crowds and had won admiration when they were first opened are avoided and put back in the category of venerable antiques as soon as luxury has worked out some new device, to her own ultimate undoing.
If we can, let us speak more boldly; if not, let us speak more frankly.
I am ready for favorable events in every case, but I am prepared for evil.
Let me tell you what evils are due to over-nice exactness, and what an enemy it is of truth!
If I cleave to Protagoras, there is nothing in the scheme of nature that is not doubtful; if I hold with Nausiphanes, I am sure only of this -- that everything is unsure; if with Parmenides, there is nothing except the One; if with Zeno, there is not even the One.
...do you consider it fairer that you should obey Nature, or that Nature should obey you?
Our lack of confidence is not the result of difficulty. The difficulty comes from our lack of confidence.
...sometimes things will be thrown at you, and sometimes they will strike you by accident.
I came to despise riches, not because of their uselessness, but because of their pettiness....more