The Meaning of It All: Thoughts of a Citizen-Scientist by Richard P. Feynman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I know this may be a shock, but I’ve never read Feynman until now. Of course, I pick a transcription of a three night series of lectures for my first, rather than his…more thought out writings. But, one gets a sense of his humor. The three lectures, in 1963 Seattle, were titled, “The Uncertainty of Science”, “The Uncertainty of Values”, and “This Unscientific Age”. Feynman’s first two lectures had structure, and yet this still reads like the spoken lecture it was – sidetracks here and there. Okay, he was all over the place, and he admits his third lecture is a collection of thoughts, with less structure, certainly, and it reads like it. Continue reading
The Existentialist’s Survival Guide: How to Live Authentically in an Inauthentic Age by Gordon Marino
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This was a challenging read for me, evidenced by the length of time it took. I kept reading a few pages, setting it aside, digesting, reading a few more… The Existentialists were obscurants; I needed some help (I started listening to The Teaching Company’s Great Courses lecture series “No Excuses: Existentialism and the Meaning of Life”.) Disclosure: I was given a review copy of an Uncorrected e-proof from the publisher, Harper-Collins, through Edelweiss+. My copy had place-holders for, but no Epilogue, Acknowledgements, or References. I’m not sure what if anything else will change with the final publication.
I requested this because I’d not explored much of the Existentialists, though I thought I’d identified with at least some of the talk. Now I’m not so sure. I had to do a little research; as it turned out I had a less than cursory knowledge of the group. Learning that it is essentially exclusively a Western phenomena, by the time I was finished with this book I determined that most of the existentialists seemed constrained in focus by geography and cultural fetters. Kierkegaard was particularly hamstrung by his affinity to Christianity (so were Newton, Pascal, Descartes, to name a few…so that’s not new), but even Nietzsche, as anti-Christian as any of his age, was a Christian atheist. That colors a perspective. Even if they manage to decouple from religion they fall to an unimaginative trap of searching for a replacement….meaning. Continue reading
Posted in Book review, Books
Tagged Advance Read, ARC, Existentialistism, Existentialists, Gordon Marino, Kierkegaard, Nitzsche, Philosophy, review copy, Sartre, The Existentialist's Survival Guide
At my age, with birthdays often come reflections. Sometimes the reflections have value – “What will I do tomorrow?”. And sometimes they are like all philosophical BS…essentially zero value: “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” “How do I know I exist?”
You know…useless claptrap.
Academy Award winner for Best BS
There is Useful knowledge: how to drive, change a tire, figure out a tip, tie your shoe, do you taxes, run a meeting, etc. And then there is Useless knowledge: how many died in the US Civil War?, how long did Ramesses II reign?, what is the latest nonsense to come out of Donald Trump’s mouth?, what is the correct ignition timing be on a 1955 Bel Air Chevrolet, with a 327 cubic-inch engine and a four-barrel carburetor? (Hint: that last one is a bullshit question, it’s impossible to answer!)
Posted in Personal thoughts
Tagged 55, Birthdays, Daniel Levitin, Jeff Alworth, Philosophical BS, Philosophy, The Beer Bible, The Complete Sherlock Holmes, The Organized Mind, Useful knowledge, Useless knowledge