Re: Nominations for our Sept. & Oct. '04 book selection
As promised we'll be adding, What is Good?
to the September & October 2004 book selection poll, due to the fact that it tied with Civilization and Its Enemies
in the July & August 2004 book poll. To new members that weren't a part of the polling process last time, we had a tie between those two books, and one had to be selected.Civilization and Its Enemies
was chosen because What is Good?
has yet to be released within the United States, where the vast majority of BookTalk members reside. We're hoping it will be released some time in the next few months.Book nomination #1:What Is Good? by A.C. Grayling
This book was suggested and reviewed by BookTalk.org member, PeterDF. And Peter - if you can get me the authors email address I'd greatly appreciate it. Send it to me via email please. Thanks.
Review by PeterDF of BookTalk.org...
Secular ethics is a subject that we don't often discuss in Booktalk, maybe this book will inspire us to explore it in more detail.
Anthony Grayling may not be known very well across "the pond"
. We first came across him at a recent literary festival near where we live. He writes a column in "The Times"
in which he reviews books. He was a judge in this year's "Mann Booker Prize for Fiction"
and he frequently appears on radio and television over here. He was a charming, witty, approachable and urbane speaker and very well informed about science and its recent impact on philosophical thought.
Here are a couple of quotes from the book:Quote:
(some) "take it that the essence of religion is faith, and faith is a commitment made in direct opposition to reason, in the very teeth of the evidence. Such irrationalism has a purely emotional basis, which no doubt might prompt some to say that it therefore requires not argument but therapy."Quote:"One main opponent" (to enlightenment rationalism) " - as a matter of historical fact - the main opponent - is religion, which claims that revelation in any form from mystical experience to dictation of scriptures by a deity, conveys from outside the world of ordinary experience truths undiscoverable by human enquiry within it."Quote:"...if there is indeed conscious design in the universe, the most that its presence entails is a designer of designers; it tells us nothing about how many, who or what they were and certainly not that it or they fit the notions of a particular religious tradition. Moreover, since suffering and death, the preying of animal upon animal, natural disasters and plagues, deformities, pain and anguish seem to be part of the design, it is not as good as it might be, so if there were indeed a designer, it's clear it could have done with more practice..."
But this book is more than a polemic against religion - it is an exploration of humanistic thought and how it has developed in the three great enlightenments of Classical Greece, the renaissance and the more recent enlightenment in the 18th and 19th Century.
There are some fascinating revelations in this book. I found his description of stoicism as a powerful, intelligent, mature, thoughtful and insightful philosophy, informed as it was by the ancient wisdom of Socrates to be compelling. And I found the Christians' dismissal of it with one word - paganism - shocking.
Grayling's vocabulary is extensive and he uses it with considerable relish so you might want to keep a dictionary near when you read it. But don't be put off. I found this to be the most enjoyable book I have read for years.
Please post your nominations folks!Chris O'Connor "For Every Winner, There Are Dozens Of Losers. Odds Are You're One Of Them"