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Book Reviews

Aldous Huxley – Island Book Review

I found this book in my sci-fi pile. Written in 1962 and possibly the last book by Aldous Huxley, Island is a far cry from Brave New World.
It tries to mix Buddhism and English Colonialism and philosophy into a stew that just doesn’t taste good. It’s too contrived and the subject at hand is an utopia in the form of the Palanese society – who embrace modern science and technology to improve medicine and nutrition, but have rejected widespread industrialization.

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Book Reviews

Anne Tyler – Noah’s Compass

This is a novel that features a normal person with ordinary abilities and no particular passion for life. Unmotivated readers (aging with nothing in particular to look forward to in life) will be able to identify with this story. It reminded me a bit of The Ignored * Bentley Little

The main character is 60 years old, has lost his job as a teacher and does not feel like looking for another job. As a matter of fact he sees no reason to continue living. Then some things happen, he sees a glimpse of hope, his spirits are lifted, then it all falls apart, but then he makes it through with a new lease on (and appreciation of) life. He also has a degree in philosophy so he has the consolation of philosophy.

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Excerpts

Did you wonder what is wrong with the world? * Atlas Shrugged – John’s speech.

Still reading Atlas Shrugged (been about two months now) and I came across this part of John Gault’s speech.

Close to the finish now but I still don’t want this book to end…

“Did you wonder what is wrong with the world? You are now seeing the climax of the creed of the uncaused and unearned. All your gangs of mystics, of spirit or muscle, are fighting one another for power to rule you, snarling that love is the solution for all the problems of your spirit and that a whip is the solution for all the problems of your body – you who have agreed to have no mind.

Granting man less dignity than they grant to cattle, ignoring what an animal trainer could tell them-that no animal can be trained by fear, that a tortured elephant will trample its torturer, but will not work for him or carry his burdens -they expect man to continue to produce electronic tubes, supersonic airplanes, atom-smashing engines and interstellar telescopes, with his ration of meat for reward and a lash on his back for incentive.

“Make no mistake about the character of mystics. To undercut your consciousness has always been their only purpose throughout the ages -and power, the power to rule you by force, has always been their only lust.

“From the rites of the jungle witch-doctors, which distorted reality into grotesque absurdities, stunted the minds of their victims and kept them in terror of the supernatural for stagnant stretches of centuries- to the supernatural doctrines of the Middle Ages, which kept men huddling on the mud floors of their hovels, in terror that the devil might steal the soup they had worked eighteen hours to earn -to the seedy little smiling professor who assures you that your brain has no capacity to think, that you have no means of perception and must blindly obey the omnipotent will of that supernatural force:

Society-all of it is the same performance for the same and only purpose: to reduce you to the kind of pulp that has surrendered the validity of its consciousness.

“But it cannot be done to you without your consent.

If you permit it to be done, you deserve it.

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Book Reviews

Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand * By Leonard Peikoff

In Objectivism, Peikoff covers every philosophic topic that Rand regarded as important—from certainty to money, from logic to art, from measurement to sex. Drawn from Rand’s published works as well as in-depth conversations between her and Peikoff, these chapters illuminate Objectivism—and its creator—with startling clarity. With Objectivism, the millions of readers who have been transformed by Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead will discover the full philosophical system underlying Ayn Rand’s work.

This book should be read by anyone interested in philosophy (which is hopefully a wide as audience as possible). Even for those who don’t agree with her, this book will present her actual ideas, which is very rare when her name is brought up in discussions. Read it for yourself and make your own conclusions about her ideas and where she may have erred.
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Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch (Kant)

Presents a collection of essays detailing Kant’s views on politics, history, and ethics.
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Whether this satirical inscription on a Dutch innkeeper’s sign upon which a burial ground was painted had for its object mankind in general, or the rulers of states in particular, who are insatiable of war, or merely the philosophers who dream this sweet dream, it is not for us to decide. But one condition the author of this essay wishes to lay down. The practical politician assumes the attitude of looking down with great self-satisfaction on the political theorist as a pedant whose empty ideas in no way threaten the security of the state, inasmuch as the state must proceed on empirical principles; so the theorist is allowed to play his game without interference from the worldly-wise statesman. Such being his attitude, the practical politician–and this is the condition I make–should at least act consistently in the case of a conflict and not suspect some danger to the state in the political theorist’s opinions which are ventured and publicly expressed without any ulterior purpose. By this clausula salvatoria the author desires formally and emphatically to deprecate herewith any malevolent interpretation which might be placed on his words.