Month: August 2012

Review: Ante-Nicene Fathers 5: Fathers of the Third Century: Hippolytus; Cyprian; Caius; Novatian; Appendix

Ante-Nicene Fathers 5: Fathers of the Third Century: Hippolytus; Cyprian; Caius; Novatian; Appendix
Ante-Nicene Fathers 5: Fathers of the Third Century: Hippolytus; Cyprian; Caius; Novatian; Appendix by Alexander Roberts

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The writings of the great Church Fathers St. Hippolytus of Rome and St. Cyprian of Carthage was well as of Caius and the heretic Novatian were fascinating throughout, of course. Particularly interesting to me was reading the correspondence of St. Cyprian throughout the years of the persecutions in North Africa. The editors might have served both themselves and their readers better had they cut down a bit on the anti-papal footnotes.

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Review: Human, All Too Human: A Book for Free Spirits

Human, All Too Human: A Book for Free Spirits
Human, All Too Human: A Book for Free Spirits by Fredrich Nietzsche

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Nietzsche’s thought is one with which all others must engage and grapple. No matter the content of any particular ideology, Nietzsche is there to perform his famous “philosophizing with a hammer” and to offer the most concise and sharpest criticisms. No matter how often you find yourself agreeing or disagreeing with him, one must admit that his aphorisms are filled with insight and wisdom — and cut to the bone every time.

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Review: Mind: A Brief Introduction

Mind: A Brief Introduction
Mind: A Brief Introduction by John Rogers Searle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While this book was not what I expected nor what the title seems to advertise, I was pleasantly surprised and immensely enjoyed reading it. Based upon the title (and no additional research), I assumed that this book would indeed by “a brief introduction” to the philosophy of mind. I expected something like a “Philosophy of Mind for Dummies” approach as is typical of such books and set out to introduce myself to the topic. Within the first chapter, however, I encountered the lament of the author that he is not able to simply inform his students and readers of the truth (as he sees it, though he wouldn’t acknowledge that point) but instead must tell them about the other opinions and the history of those opinions. Any introduction that starts that way is no longer an introduction. That said, Searle does, in a sense, and certainly with a great deal of bias, introduce us to many of the most important issues in the philosophy of mind. He does so, of course, in a way that will lead us to his own opinion and, he hopes, convince us of it, but he does introduce nonetheless.

Having said all of that, I do think that Searle’s approach is a very interesting one that is perhaps one of the best (that is, one with the fewest problems) approaches within philosophy of mind today. He seeks to overcome the historical categories and diametric opposites such as “dualism” and “materialism” and instead posit a sort of “third way” which he views as the common sense approach in between the two extremes. While this is clever and, as I’ve already said, leads us out of many of the problems of dualism and materialism, I think that it also brings his ideas into an area which suffers from many of the same problems as dualism and materialism. That is, while avoiding certain problems of each philosophy, he has taken on certain problems from both.

Overall, this book is an excellent and very readable read (which is saying a lot for a book on the philosophy of mind; “readable” is rarely an apt description for works on such a subject). I recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about the philosophy of mind and especially anyone who wasn’t lost the child’s ability to question things that everyone else just takes for granted.

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Review: Readings on the Ultimate Questions: An Introduction to Philosophy (Penguin Academics Series) (2nd Edition)

Readings on the Ultimate Questions: An Introduction to Philosophy (Penguin Academics Series) (2nd Edition)
Readings on the Ultimate Questions: An Introduction to Philosophy (Penguin Academics Series) (2nd Edition) by Nils Ch Rauhut

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Overall, this book serves as an excellent introduction to issues of current debate in philosophy and to some of the best modern philosophers actively engaged in these discussions as well as earlier philosophers (Thomas Aquinas and Aristotle, for example) who raised points that are still debated and discussed today. I particularly enjoyed the point/counter-point format that most of the book followed. This provided the reader with an opportunity to see the best answers and answers-to-answers on the important issues covered. Often, it seems as if we were witnessing a live debate between several great minds. Those parts of the book with which I was disappointed were those in which the editor chose not to follow this format. For example, no response essay was offered to Deborah Mathieu’s entry on “Male-Chauvinist Religion.” As badly written and poorly historically informed as that essay is, I don’t think that it should have been included in this book at all, especially not without an essay written in response to it or at least from the opposite perspective on the same issue. Aside from those few drawbacks, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in diving head first into the greatest topics of discussion of today and of all time: the ultimate questions.

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