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text 2020-03-08 01:19
Oh, really?
Galileo's Error - Philip Goff

(reading progress half-way point)

Somewhat past the half-way point now, this book is becoming fascinating. I’ve read four thought experiments and am ready to tackle panpsychism, whatever that is. I expect I’ll find out in the last hundred pages. Panpsychism wasn’t discussed in his undergraduate philosophy classes, Philip Goff tells us. Learning of panpsychism rekindled the author's interest in philosophy. With renewed interest he began graduate studies. No surprise here. Dualism clashes with everything scientific, while extreme Materialism considers consciousness to be an illusion.

What reignited Goff’s interest in philosophy was his discovery of “Analysis of Matter” published in 1927 by Bertrand Russell. The astronomer, Arthur Eddington immediately embraced the book. Sadly, Russell’s ideas lay dormant after World War II. Goff is helping to revive them.

 

“Pointer readings” is how Eddington described scientific knowledge. Science never defines the intrinsic nature of anything. Instead, it only reveals “causal relationships” and “physical constituents.” Such a tool can never describe consciousness or any non-material object. A broader tool is needed. And here begins the panpsychism argument.

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review 2017-06-09 00:00
A History of Western Philosophy
A History of Western Philosophy - Bertrand Russell An important point was left out of this book: The history of philosophy is also a history of drunks.

Bertrand Russell has attempted to give a brief overview of the History of Western Philosophy. In this 900 page tome he touches on the major figures, major fields of thought, and the socio-political backgrounds that influenced (and were influenced by) them. Russell also offers up some critique on these aspects, because it wouldn't be a philosophy book if it wasn't doing so.

This description sounds like anathema to entertaining reading, and it would be if it wasn't being tackled by someone like Russell. Bertrand has a very clear, concise, and accessible writing style, and is easily able to explain in plain language even the most complex of philosophical ideas. Normally reading philosophy reminds me of reading genetics textbooks, as it is overstuffed with pedantry and jargon, Russell makes it feel like he is uses no jargon or technical terms.

It should also be noted that Russell is snarky to the point that you find yourself having to laugh and share his comment with someone. His comments are withering and witty, but they also serve as a great way of highlighting the flaws with certain arguments or "great" thinkers. If there are a few takeaway points from this book it is that the great minds were way ahead of their time, but that those same minds were confined by the structures of their time. It makes you wonder how many of today's ideas are going to look silly and biased to future peoples.

This isn't really a book to read about certain philosophers, nor fields of thought. A History of Western Philosophy is more a cliff notes version of several thousand years of thinking. Definitely an emphasis on the history and context. And it is all viewed through Russell's eyes, his snarky, snarky, eyes.
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review 2016-03-04 00:00
Mortals and Others
Mortals and Others - Bertrand Russell,Jo... Mortals and Others - Bertrand Russell,John G. Slater Introduction

Volume I

Preface to Volume I

--On Jealousy
--Sex and Happiness
--Tourists: We Lose Our Charm Away from Home
--The Menace of Old Age
--In Praise of Artificiality
--Who May Use Lipstick?
--The Lessons of Experience
--Hope and Fear
--Are Criminals Worse than Other People?
--The Advantages of Cowardice
--The Decay of Meditation
--Marriage
--On Being Good
--Who Gets Our Savings?
--Children
--On Politicians
--Keeping Pace?
--On Snobbery
--Whose Admiration Do You Desire?
--On National Greatness
--Is the World Going Mad?
--Are We Too Passive?
--Why We Enjoy Mishaps
--Does Education Do Harm?
--Are Men of Science Scientific?
--Flight from Reality
--Illegal?
--On Optimism
--As Others See Us
--Taking Long Views
--On Mental Differences Between Boys and Girls
--On the Fierceness of Vegetarians
--Furniture and the Ego
--Why Are We Discontented?
--On Locomotion
--Of Co-operation
--Our Woman Haters
--The Influence of Fathers
--On Societies
--On Being Edifying
--On Sales Resistance
--Should Children Be Happy?
--Dangers of Feminism
--On Expected Emotions
--On Modern Uncertainty
--On Imitating Heroes
--On Vicarious Asceticism
--On Labelling People
--On Smiling
--Do Governments Desire War?
--On Corporal Punishment
--If Animals Could Talk
--On Insularity
--On Astrologers
--On Protecting Children from Reality
--The Decay of Intellectual Standards
--Pride in Illness
--On Charity
--On Reverence
--On Proverbs
--On Clothes
--Should Socialists Smoke Good Cigars?
--A Sense of Humour
--Love and Money
--Interest in Crime
--How to Become a Man of Genius
--On Old Friends
--Success and Failure
--On Feeling Ashamed
--On Economic Security
--On Tact
--Changing Fashions in Reserve
--On Honour
--The Consolations of History
--Is Progress Assured?
--Right and Might
--Prosperity and Public Expenditure
--Public and Private Interests

Volume II

Preface to Volume II

--Christmas at Sea
--How People Economise
--Do Dogs Think?
--How People Take Failure
--On Conceit
--On Bores
--Politics and Sport
--On Reticence
--The Good Old Days
--On Becoming Civilised
--On the Art of Persuading
--The Prospects of Democracy
--The Admiration of Strength
--The Triumph of Stupidity
--On Utilitarianism
--On Race Hatred
--The Spirit of Adventure
--What Makes People Likeable
--On Self-Righteousness
--Emotions About Spending Money
--The Origin of Victorian Virtue
--On Propriety
--I Escape from Progress
--Experts and Oligarchs
--Fugitive and Cloistered Virtue
--On Being Ashamed of Virtue
--Men versus Insects
--The Paralysis of Statesmanship
--On Orthodoxies
--Means to Ends
--Individualist Ethics
--The Cult of the Individual
--On Being Argumentative
--On Mediaevalism
--In Praise of Dullness
--The End of Pioneering
--Combating Cruelty
--Can We Think Quickly Enough?
--On Discipline
--Expecting the Millennium
--The Churches and War
--On Loving Our Neighbours
--On Self-Control
--Respect for Law
--On Euthanasia
--On Equality
--The Father of the Family
--On the Origins of Common Customs
--On Transferring One's Anger
--On Adult Education
--On Curious Beliefs
--Competitive Ethics
--Is Anybody Normal?
--Egoism
--Back to Nature?
--Parental Affection
--Benevolence and Love of Power
--Irrational Opinions
--Science and Happiness
--Social Sciences in Schools
--Race and Nationality
--The Problem of Leisure
--What to Believe
--Instinct in Human Beings
--Fashions in Virtues
--On Comets
--Fear and Amusement
--On Curious Learning
--On Being Important
--Censorship by Progressives
--Protecting the Ego
--Climate and Saintliness
--Why Travel?
--Obscure Fame
--Insanity and Insight
--On Ceremony
--Love of Money
--On Specialising
--Good Manners and Hypocrisy
--On Being Insulting
--Vigorous and Feeble Epochs
--The Decrease of Knowledge

Notes
Published Essay Titles
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review 2015-12-17 06:51
The Conquest of Happiness - Daniel C. Dennett,Bertrand Russell

This book was not what I was expecting. I guess I was thinking that I was in for a grand overview on just what happiness is and the nature of the human existence in chasing it. And while parts were like that, many others were just Russell's opinions on how to "solve" the happiness problem.

 

There were parts of this book that showed its age, both socially and scientifically, even far enough to the point that I'd disagree with the conclusion. The biggest example of this is that one can force themselves to believe a thought by "planting it in the subconscious" by repeated use. Throughout the rest of the book he continues this line of reasoning: that most hindrances to happiness can be solved by thought and intelligence and will. Personally I don't think this holds up as the same effective method that Russell presents it.

 

But there were parts that I intensely enjoyed and stirred me up if they touched on the idea of "what is the happiness that we should attain?", like the idea that one who enjoys sports is better off than someone who does not, and someone who reads (woot woot) is better off still because reading is always available. In any case, there were also times that I just enjoyed him skillfully expressing a very basic thought that I knew, but was always implied.

 

 

It's really more of an opinion piece than anything, which is ok, except that most of it was not remarkable. People who enjoy their jobs are generally happier. People in love are happier. Etc. And while it was discussed in an engaging way, it's not a "cure" that is new or groundbreaking. There were, however, some parts that out of nowhere hit home really hard and made me step back and think about it for a week, and I'm still thinking about them so I guess I can say the book was good.

 

After all, good philosophy isn't supposed to give you the answers, it's supposed to give you the questions.

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review 2015-12-02 00:00
Sceptical Essays (Routledge Classics)
Sceptical Essays (Routledge Classics) - Bertrand Russell,John Nicholas Gray Preface to the Routledge Classics Edition

--Introduction: On the Value of Scepticism
--Dreams and Facts
--Is Science Superstitious?
--Can Men be Rational?
--Philosophy in the Twentieth Century
--Machines and the Emotions
--Behaviourism and Values
--Eastern and Western Ideals of Happiness
--The Harm that Good Men Do
--The Recrudescence of Puritanism
--The Need for Political Scepticism
--Free Thought and Official Propaganda
--Freedom in Society
--Freedom Versus Authority in Education
--Psychology and Politics
--The Danger of Creed Wars
--Some Prospects: Cheerful and Otherwise

Index
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