This book is a fun read through a large variety of different military decisions across history and how things went right or wrong to bring those decisThis book is a fun read through a large variety of different military decisions across history and how things went right or wrong to bring those decisions about. The authors go into detail about the historical situation, and in doing so provide some useful insight into how institutions make decisions, and how they can learn to make better decisions, and in many cases these are conflicts that we all have heard about (Napolean and Hitler's invasion of Russia) or even ones less popular to discuss.(China's punitive war with Vietnam)
I recommend this book for people who like history, like reading about civics, or like reading about decision-making. Also, given that it can be found for free on the RAND Institute website, it's just the right price. :) ...more
This book is a clear example that in many ways CS Lewis a great author. He knows how to use rhetoric and clever turn of phrase to make a very interestThis book is a clear example that in many ways CS Lewis a great author. He knows how to use rhetoric and clever turn of phrase to make a very interesting book to read. He also has some very good insight in many areas. He's right that expressivism is very deeply wrong and does not accord with our traditional language and conceptions of the world. He's right that the ethical impulse cannot be a matter of pure reason, and is a complicated thing to tie in to the workings of the world. It can't be sensibly reduced into an impulse like any other impulse or an artifact of the purest rationalism like the other abstractions while maintaining it's essential nature.
The reason I don't give this book 4 stars though is because CS Lewis is frustrating. He's not given to the explicit syllogism or detailed explanation or real intuition. Where I think a better author would feel the need to reason things out explicitly and intuitively, CS Lewis seems to instead rely on more figurative language, so his chapter on the abolition of man involves various twistings of the meaning of "nature" and plain bizarrenesses in his interpretation of "man's power over nature", in trying to stretch a difference between technology and personal ability. By similar reasoning one must also argue that wealth is not a form of power because it only involves convincing people and is not tied to any innate ability or coercion. And to force this into only being "certain men" also carries within it a large amount of absurdity, but this absurdity is essential to CS Lewis's reasoning on the matter making it all the worse. I mean, the last chapter was full of folly, even if there is a bit of truth in what Lewis says, somebody needs to go back through and make the arguments more explicit and tie them back to intuition/sense. Also, while attempting to speak for all times, he seems really to speak more for his time, so he acts as if "omnicompetent states" are a timeless notion to struggle against, but they really weren't.
I end up finding myself with some degree of doubt towards CS Lewis's framework as well. In talking about the Tao, he claims to speak for the nature of moral authority, so he says "Those who understand the Tao and who have been led by that spirit can modify it in directions which the spirit itself demands." I get the feeling that CS Lewis isn't talking about any real ethical dialectic, but rather that he himself is the blinded one who is ignoring a larger world to maintain his moderate conservatism, and that his love of tradition is in part what is leading him astray. I don't even think it even necessarily follows that what is said is meaningless, so when JS Mill puts forward the idea of Utilitarianism, he is standing outside of the ethical tradition and narrowing it down to an absurdity, but what he says has value just the same and sharpens how people can think about their problems. When Rawls talks about social justice, what he says is very rich and very deep and even penetrating in many ways in a manner where it can be recognized by others, even those disposed to be hostile to him, but he's still lost in many features and his efforts carry an absurdity upon them as noted by Irving Kristol in how his ethic is the only one in history to have made equality the only virtue of a society. Also, when CS Lewis brings up Jesus, I actually think that CS Lewis has out of bias introduced an outsider to his Tao, for Jesus is less of a maintainer of a tradition and more of a radical who overturned these traditions. When Christ talked about the two commandments being to love God and love your neighbor: "Mat 22:37-39 And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. (38) This is the great and first commandment. (39) And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself." he is committing a gross reduction, and when Jesus involves his martyrism, he is once again degrading the common moral impulse into a suicidal extremism. There are some mitigating impulses within the doctrines, but the radicalism is apparent and it's that germ that has led to so many pacifistic and radical movements within Christianity, yet this is dismissed to include Christianity in the "Tao". And when Nietzsche revolted against "slave morality", or even when Ayn Rand did the same to "altruism", the effort isn't a matter of pure revolution, but rather a counter-revolution to sickness. In short, I feel odd in affirming anything like "the Tao", because while I am fine with realities that are difficult to reduce, I get the feeling that Lewis really wants something irreducible in principle which... I don't think can happen, but I definitely get the feeling that whatever "the Tao" is, it has escaped Lewis in certain areas.(As it might with us all??) I also strongly feel that his average reader is likely alienated from whatever "the Tao" would happen to be as well, as it's no love of traditional morality or balance that would lead a person to believe in a wholly good author of evil(that they may try to mask in various ways), a being that damns those who struggle like the rest of us for what they merely believe, or a standard so absurdly extreme that basically nothing could ever live up to it. All of those traits sound so radical that they sound like his characterization of an ideology by Lewis's own characterization: "So far from being able to harmonize discrepancies in its letter by penetrating into its spirit, he merely snatches at some one precept, on which the accidents of time and place happened to rivet to his attention, and then rides it to death", and yet that is what Christianity ends up being in many ways, as it takes the idea of human failing and then rides it to death with absurdities of hell and substitutionary doctrines following from it, it takes humility and rides it to death and ignores or tries to debunk healthy notions of pride, and so on and so forth. Maybe it avoids all of the absurdities of a Marxism of the sort that Lewis is trying to debunk, but it's not the inheritor of all of our ethical precepts or the best explanation for them.
(Also, for any stranger reading, I think this is mostly a vague rant inspired by the book. Don't take it too seriously.)...more
Not that impressive, but what I would expect from a Creationist writing. They do a good job criticizing other possible explanations, but their own effNot that impressive, but what I would expect from a Creationist writing. They do a good job criticizing other possible explanations, but their own effort is too underdeveloped to be scientific....more
This is an interesting book. I like the combination of prose and poetry. I do not regret the fact I read it, but I can't give this a good recommendatiThis is an interesting book. I like the combination of prose and poetry. I do not regret the fact I read it, but I can't give this a good recommendation.
The argumentation is pretty absurd though in many areas, enough so that it is hard to take much of the book seriously. I mean, in Book 4, it is argued that wicked men are necessarily powerless and unhappy, and that the reason why people of common sense would deny such a claim is due to their lack of grasp of the true nature of things. The problem is that reasoning like this is the exact reason why any person of sense should often take philosophy and philosophers with a grain of salt. I point this out because it is an area of great absurdity, where I think most modern people would take issue with the equivocations made between various senses of words(which undermines the argument), and where the nature of the conclusion is such that anybody with common sense would have to protest.
The problem is that the rest of the book isn't really much above sophistry, as that particular issue is just where the author is more clearly off, but the rest discussed isn't much better in it's depth. Perhaps the most valuable piece of the book is simply it's historical contribution to the problems of foreknowledge and free will in a theistic system. It's a classical book. It's great if you like that less developed argumentation of the classical writings. It's not a great philosophy book....more