Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

My Reads – Philosophy Reviews

Posted: January 2, 2012 in Books, Philosophy

The RepublicThe Republic by Plato
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Would every man steal and cheat if he had a magic ring that could make him invisible? Is it better to be just or unjust? “Wherever a man feels he can safely be unjust, there he is unjust” ?
Is it the greatest thing in life to aspire for “the way” to be unjust wherever you can safely be so, as Thrasymachus claims? Socrates had dedicated most of his life to get to the bottom of these kinda bottomless ethical questions. And the showdown takes place in Piraeus, near Athens, at the festival of Bendindea.

In order to explore how being just and unjust affects persons and states they created an analogy of a state, or The Republic, for the sake of their discussion. Socrates is known for being big on analogies, and thanx to sharp minds in the crowd, not everyone was satisfied with his conclusion that being just is better because he debunked Thrasymachus arguments for injustice; by proclaiming that the just are (usually) the wise and the superior; and the unjust are usually the ignorant and foul, sometimes as bad as deformed and villainish – depending on what analogy Socrates was making about them.
He had some difficulty explaining how the various things affect the human psyche, it wasn’t until almost 2 millennia later that real empirical studies of some the things they were talking about were being practiced on a large scale. Psychological studies and so forth. The average person, or perhaps most, didn’t have any clue that the brain had anything to do with though. Such thoughts weren’t able to cross a person’s mind with the same level of depth and understanding we’ve had for the past few hundred years. But on this day near Athens, some deep thinkers of various ethical understandings got together for a very long discussion.

Understanding where justice lies in a state as whole, Socrates said, you can see it more clearly in individuals – in your self. So while they built the state and saw how it become more excellent and how it deteriorated, they got deeper into where justice lies. This is after accepting the analogies that fancy justice is the same as wisdom and so forth; and the arguments somewhat drifts into Platos paradoxes of “things that are the same must be same throughout or it’s not ‘same'” sometimes.

For the state to be most beneficial/industrious, as well as just, they almost conclude, every citizen must be dedicated to his main “job”, that which he is best fittet for by nature. While should you multitask your skills, you’ll deteriorate – that is you (your self) as well as the state.
This of course begets questions of individual happiness; whether or not this kind of state/society is possible and so forth. Lots of interesting conversation subjects, and a cool read (or group read) for everyone.

The Self-Aware UniverseThe Self-Aware Universe by Amit Goswami
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Educational. Mostly an overview over some quantum mechanic principles for the layman.

SiddharthaSiddhartha by Hermann Hesse
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The book is kind-of all over the place. We basically follow all of Siddhartha’s mood swings. But there isn’t enough character development to understand how over two or three pages he goes from being a stoic resisting some girl, to falling head over heels for another one (a prostitute?). Or how he’s laughing at people’s money-hungriness and material attachments, then a few pages later he’s addicted to gambling. A few lines of metaphorical poetry to explain how he changed that way was’t enough for me.

Who is this Siddhartha anyway? It’s not Gotama Siddhartha, I believe.

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My Reads – Folk Stories

Posted: January 1, 2012 in Books

Monkey: A Folk Novel of ChinaMonkey: A Folk Novel of China by Wu Cheng’en
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A pretty complete abridged version of The Journey To The West. Starting with the life of Sun Wukong (AKA “aware of emptiness, Son Goku, Monkey). Almost half of the book is about how he gained all his powers, raising havoc in heaven then getting trapped by Buddha. Then the other half is about him assisting the Monk on his journey to the west.

I gave it three stars, although it was a good story (one i felt like a “must read”). There were just too many things that didn’t make sense.
The way the characters react to things and bother with things just seemed unnatural, in a sense, especially for how “enlightened”, wise, old, religious and strong they (some of them) were.

Peer Gynt Peer Gynt by Henrik Ibsen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A classic Norwegian tale including some trolls and other stuff from Norse Mythology. I liked the story but I realized while reading this book that I’m not a big fan of poetry.

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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker's Guide, #1)The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is brilliantly awesome. Funny and easy to read for someone who is new to sci-fi like me.
Not a single boring day-dreamish metaphor I had to read through. But instead, I loved the way he would use similes in unconventional ways, like “It floated above the surface much the same way that bricks don’t” .

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The School of Athens (detail). Fresco, Stanza ...Image via WikipediaThought I should ramble a bit about some “mind expanding” books I’ve read.
A short history of nearly everything” is a great book that covers almost all areas of science,  it’s also like a journey through science, where you learn how much you don’t know about everything =P
Plato’s Rebublic had an effect on me as well, and I wrote about it a few weeks ago, me thinks, in this blog.
Hmm, “Blink”, and the other Malcolm Gladwell works. It’s psychology etc. applied and described in interesting ways.
Since we’re talking “mind expanding” I guess I have to throw in “The Self Aware Universe” , and I’ll probably think of more later.

Reading Plato’s Republic

Posted: April 3, 2011 in About Me, Books

From http://hypernews.ngdc.noaa.govImage via WikipediaOne of the most interesting books in the world, in my opinion.
About the nature of Justice and injustice “Nothing less than the rule of human life is at stake”
The question is “is there more benefit from being just than unjust?”
Thrasymachus starts off by saying the unjust man gains more than the just, by stealing of course.
Socrates job is to prove that the just man is generally happier as a person.

The book makes me rather cheerful 🙂 And probably smarter and more philosophical.
My method of thinking is changing already.