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review 2017-01-26 00:00
Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals
Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals - Immanuel Kant Never trust what modern writers say about classic works of Philosophy. Kant is not only relevant because of the influence he had on latter day thinkers, but, as with this work, he has something to say which makes mince meat out of most of the present day writers. If this book had been published for the first time last year, most readers would have thought it was the greatest book they had read in the decade (or even in their lifetimes).

There is a little bit of getting used to the special language that Kant uses, but it's really not hard to follow if you are familiar with Kant (I am not a philosopher but I want to learn my purpose and how best to be 'good'). He'll use 'synthetic' and 'analytic', the trick I use is since 'synthetic' starts with 's' think 'senses', and analytic is another word for math so think 'math', for 'a posteriori' and 'a priori' (I put them in this order because 'a posteriori' relates to the senses (synthetic) and is after the fact or after experience, 'a priori' relates to 'analytic' before the fact or from first principles or deductively as in a mathematical system. Two other Kantian words are 'subjective' (think 'self' sense it starts with 's' and 'objective' is an 'object' (or thing) outside of yourself.

Kant is really not hard to follow and this work in particular was clearly written such that any one can really follow it because he obviously wants as wide an audience as possible for what he is going to tell the reader. (Now, I will admit that "Critique of Pure Reason' was hard at first but once I looked up those words in the above paragraph I ended up loving what he had to say and how he said it. With Kant you always get a unique way of looking at something and it's not always as important what he concludes as how he gets there. He even says something like that at the end of CPR, but with this book how he gets there and what he says are both well worth the effort).

The reason he wants such a wide audience is because what he's going to tell the reader is an answer to one of the two great universal truths we all seek: 1) knowledge (justified true beliefs) about the world (Aristotle starts his Metaphysics with this fact), and 2) knowledge of the good (or divine) (Plato's formulation). This book is all about the second truth we all want, and to know about the 'good' one must first understand what the good is. This is what he does within this book.

Kant builds a 'ground' based on reason to get at what our unconditional duties are in which we need to grasp the unconditional practical reason (morality) as maxims (universal laws) or as he says 'categorical imperatives'. Or in other words, he uses the infinite to get at our finite understanding of how we should approach life. His methodology is always a pleasure to behold and will teach anyone (including me) how to think better, and his conclusions are one of the best guides on how to live a moral life that I've encountered. I like the Golden Rule (and parts of the Sermon on the Mount), I like J.S. Mill's utilitarian philosophy, and I just love Kant's Categorical Imperatives. A combination of all three is how I choose to live.

In the end, we earthlings, need to understand what it means to be good. All moral philosophy at its root combines empathy with reciprocity of some kind and call for us to be 'good' in some fashion, but 'what is the good (or divine)' is not obvious except usually in some circular fashion, and this book gives an extraordinarily good account for it. Don't worry about the technical language, because overall it is written to be understood, and is an incredibly good self help book that could easily replace almost all the rest of the current best sellers especially the vile self help books which I walk past in the bookstore.
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review 2016-05-06 00:00
Metaphysics
Metaphysics - Aristotle Metaphysics - Aristotle First, I want to thank LibriVox for making this book freely available in an audio edition.

This is the only 3 star book where I would recommend it to everyone. My start of reading primary philosophy started with Heidegger, that led me to Hegel and then Kant. There's no doubt I should have suffered through this book first, because those authors rely on Aristotle in many ways and not just to tear him apart but to add to how Aristotle approached the topic of metaphysics.

I've learned to no longer trust commentaries of the great works of philosophy. The summaries just seem to get it wrong. One must go to the primary source to understand what was really said. Most of the time people comment on the Metaphysics they emphasis the four causes (form, matter, efficiency, and final cause). While they are right they are in the book, they are missing the heart of the matter.

Metaphysics is really defined by this book. Ontology, the science of being, the what is there, or the what is the furniture that makes up the room and what is that furniture really made up of are discussed in this book. Also, the foundation, the primary structure, the first causes of the world is looked at. Aristotle values both the empirical and the rational, the world of the physical and the abstract. Also, the nature of science is analyzed.

Aristotle speaks logic. He beats into the reader the meaning of mutually exclusive (something has to either be or not be at the same time and place) and contradiction (something can't be and not be at the same time and place). At his best, Aristotle puts reality back in to the dialectics. From Heraclitus' a person can't cross the river because they and the river are always changing, or Parmenides change is impossible because there is no such thing as the void (don't completely dismiss that because Einstein's block universe leads to that too). Aristotle uses his logic to demolish those beliefs.

I've tried reading it before but never got out of Book 1. I now know why. Aristotle is verbose in his prose. The substance of the universe are not numbers. It only took me one one sentence to dismiss that notion. It takes Aristotle all of book 13 to say that with multiple chapters and what seems like run on sentences before he lays out his excruciating arguments.

I hate recommending this book because it is painfully written, but it has real insights which are painfully and slowly drawn out, and it's clear that this book has influenced many later day philosophers who I have recently read. (Kant systematically destroys most of Aristotle's conclusion, Heidegger obviously worshiped the occurentness (a Dreyfus neologism) of Aristotle, and Hegel follows Aristotle's soul, identity, and essence (to me, the most dangerous concept in science!).
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quote 2015-05-29 19:55
"A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books."

~ Walt Whitman, poet

Source: www.care2.com
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review 2014-10-23 00:00
The Moral Law: Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals
The Moral Law: Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals - Immanuel Kant,Herbert James Paton Translator's Preface
Commentary and Analysis of the Argument - The Approach to Moral Philosophy, Outline of a Metaphysic of Morals, Outline of a Critique of Practical Reason


--Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals

Notes
Index
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review 2014-09-21 04:11
Review of Awakening: A Sufi Experience by Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan
Awakening: A Sufi Experience - Hazrat Inayat Khan,Vilayat Inayat Khan

Awakening: A Sufi Experience by Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan gives a good overview of the beliefs and ideals of Sufism. Admittedly there was some material that was over my head, but a surprising amount of what I read was familiar to me. This is because Sufism draws from many different religions and cultures and there were concepts discussed in this book that closely resembled things I had learned when studying new age spirituality. There is a lot of emphasis on meditation in this book and it describes many different meditation and breathing exercises. Some of these I was already familiar with, but many of them were new to me. One thing that I thought was really cool about this book is that scientific principles are often used to help explain metaphysical and spiritual concepts which certainly made them easier for me to understand. I thought this was an excellent book and I'd highly recommend it to anyone new to the subject. I really enjoyed reading it and just the act of reading this book helped me to feel more peaceful.

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