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July/August 2003 book discussion....

Collaborate in choosing our next NON-FICTION book for group discussion within this forum. A minimum of 5 posts is necessary to participate here!
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Chris OConnor

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July/August 2003 book discussion....

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Lets start discussing what book we would like to read during July and August of 2003 in this thread. Review the Book Suggestions thread for ideas, or come up with some new ones.Right now I'm thinking Pinkers "Blank Slate" might be a good selection. Any ideas?Chris
NaddiaAoC

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Re: July/August 2003 book discussion....

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I would like to read something a little more philosophical. I would like to become more familiar with Ayn Rand's ideas so I was thinking of any of her non-fiction works that describe some of her philosophies, specifically objectivism and rational self-interest. Maybe her lexicon.Nad
Timothy Schoonover

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Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies by Noam ChomskyQuote:From the Preface:The five chapters that follow are modified versions of the five 1988 Massey lectures I delivered over Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio in November 1988. These lectures suggest certain conclusions about the functioning of the most advanced democratic systems of the modern era, and particularly, about the ways in which thought and understanding are shaped in the interests of domestic privilege. Following these five chapters are appendices that are intended to serve, in effect, as extended footnotes amplifying some of the points raised, separated from the text so as not to obscure too much the continuity of the discussion. There is an appendix, divided into sections, for each chapter. Each section is identified by the part of the text to which it serves as an addendum. These appendices should be regarded merely as a sample. As references indicate, some of the topics touched upon in the text and appendices are explored in further detail elsewhere. Many of them merit serious research projects. The issues that arise are rooted in the nature of Western industrial societies and have been debated since their origins. In capitalist democracies there is a certain tension with regard to the locus of power. In a democracy the people rule, in principle. But decision-making power over central areas of life resides in private hands, with large-scale effects throughout the social order. One way to resolve the tension would be to extend the democratic system to investment, the organization of work, and so on. That would constitute a major social revolution, which, in my view at least, would consummate the political revolutions of an earlier era and realize some of the libertarian principles on which they were partly based. Or the tension could be resolved, and sometimes is, by forcefully eliminating public interference with state and private power. In the advanced industrial societies the problem is typically approached by a variety of measures to deprive democratic political structures of substantive content, while leaving them formally intact. A large part of this task is assumed by ideological institutions that channel thought and attitudes within acceptable bounds, deflecting any potential challenge to established privilege and authority before it can take form and gather strength. The enterprise has many facets and agents. I will be primarily concerned with one aspect: thought control, as conducted through the agency of the national media and related elements of the elite intellectual culture. There is, in my opinion, much too little inquiry into these matters. My personal feeling is that citizens of the democratic societies should undertake a course of intellectual self-defense to protect themselves from manipulation and control, and to lay the basis for more meaningful democracy. It is this concern that motivates the material that follows, and much of the work cited in the course of the discussion. If Blank Slate is an option, I will vote for it. I really want to read what Pinker has to say. I also think we should consider something by Noam Chomsky. Manufacturing Consent may be a little too comprehensive for this setting, but Necessary Illusions is a bit more digestible and covers more recent examples of the same issues.
JeffBailey

Re: July/August 2003 book discussion....

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Great suggestion Naddia!I will read or re-read anything by Ayn Rand. I am a big fan of her writings and philosophy. Though if I were going to suggest something of hers to read it would have to be her magnum opus fictional work "Atlas Shrugged". It is the dramatization of her philosophy of objectivism and might lead to many interesting discussions.Ayn Rand has said,Quote:"My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral pupose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute."And the oath of the lead striker in Atlas Shrugged,"I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine." Powerful and controversial statements that seem to fly in the face of much of what we are taught about how to live. I have read some of her non-fiction works and know that she frequently and freely refers to "Atlas Shrugged" at every moment she could. That is why I would pick it first of all her works. However, if you must read a non-fiction work of hers I suggest "The Virtue of Selfishness, A New Concept of Egoism" which sets forward the moral principles of Objectivism, her philosophy.I read "Atlas Shrugged" and "The Fountainhead" once a year. The only books I re-read at that frequency (excepting technical manuals), besides the Bible. So not reading them in the group is no loss to me and must admit that I am looking forward to Pinker's book. Edited by: JeffBailey at: 5/10/03 7:22:40 pm
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Chris OConnor

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Re: July/August 2003 book discussion....

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Ayn Rand is heavy reading and I fear it might intimidate many members. Then again...those members that seem to be active here at BookTalk would probably love her books. Perhaps I shouldn't worry about it.I've read about 5 of her nonfictions books and exactly 0 of her fiction. Atlas Shugged or The Fountainhead would both be good reads, but they don't fall within the scope of the BookTalk mission. If we read them then we would probably need to open the flood gates to other works of fiction. I don't think this would be wise as I would then have to debate with members why we aren't considering reading romance novels and science fiction.Have you guys read her "Ayn Rand Lexicon?" This book is an alphabetical summarization of her views on various topics such as abortion, capital punishment, the origins and nature of morality, etc...Chris
curttheprophet

Re: July/August 2003 book discussion....

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Well, I had a long, detailed post all written out, and I tried to spell-check it and it disappeared. Oh well, you'll have to make due with this skimpy one.I'd read that Chomsky one, but he'd probably be impossible to get for a chat because he's so busy.Something by Pinker sounds good, too. I've read a few essays by him, and they weren't no waste of time, no way. Anyway...I've never read anything by Ayn Rand, and would rather read something by Chomsky or Pinker. But I'd give her a chance if forced to, I guess.I compiled a list of intriguing non-fiction a few months back and I'll try to find it. It should have some gems to list for possible consideration.Curt.
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Chris OConnor

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Re: July/August 2003 book discussion....

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CurtPosts vanishing when you use the spell checker is a known bug...they said they had it fixed awhile ago. I suggest you always copy your entire post to your clipboard before clicking on the spell-check button from now on. That is what I do and it has saved me several times. Good luck! Chris
wmmurrah

Re: July/August 2003 book discussion....

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I have read Pinker's "How the mind works." I found it very interesting and informative. An excellent book. I have also read several of Ayn Rand's books, both fiction and non-fiction. She is an excellent writer and I believe many of the people in our forum would enjoy her work. I predict that her work would more controversial within the forum than other books we have read. This could be a good thing. It may spark more flavorful discussions
Timothy Schoonover

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Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media - by Edward S. Herman, Noam ChomskyFashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals' Abuse of Science by Alan D. Sokal, Jean BricmontA People's History of the United States : 1492-Present - by Howard ZinnI cross-posted these in the permanent suggestion thread with reviews if you want to read more.
xilog

Re: July/August 2003 book discussion....

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I might well participate in a discussion of the Sokal/Bricmont book.(which I have read)I might be interested in reading a bit of Chomsky (I would needto look a little closer first).I'm still tempted to read "The Extended Phenotype", though presumably you won't want two sucessive books by Dawkins (though you did for Bloom).Roger Jones
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