Tag: history

Review: Mathew A. Foust’s “Confucianism and American Philosophy”

It’s been more than a decade since I walked into my first Philosophy 101 discussion group at the University of Oregon and noticed a diminutive, sparkly-eyed man at the front of the room. There’s no way I could have predicted how profoundly my life would change due to the influence of this man, who spent [...]

Review: Van Jones’s “Beyond the Messy Truth”

In this era of increasingly putrid political division, there are lots of books out there attempting to diagnose America’s problems and suggest workable solutions. And although I’m not convinced that Van Jones’s Beyond the Messy Truth is necessarily the best of them, if I had the ability to force all Americans to read this book, I would [...]

Review: Cixin Liu’s “Remembrance of Earth’s Past”

Cixin’s Liu’s Remembrance of Earth’s Past is a perfect and peerless narrative achievement. Not only is it the best piece of science fiction I’ve ever read, but it would also be a strong contender for my favorite story of all time. I think that giving away any major plot points or world-building features would do a disservice [...]

Review: Antonio Damasio’s “The Strange Order of Things”

Antonio Damasio’s impact on my intellectual development would be difficult to overstate. I first encountered his work when I was assigned The Feeling of What Happens for a philosophy of mind course in college. That book fundamentally transformed how I understood myself as a thinking, feeling being, and when I read Self Comes to Mind a few years later, [...]

Review: Steven Pinker’s “Enlightenment Now”

Steven Pinker was one of the first writers to kindle my passion for scientific thinking. When I read The Blank Slate in 2011, it exposed me to a host of intellectual disciplines that my undergraduate training in philosophy had neglected––most notably evolutionary psychology, skepticism, and the empirical foundations of human nature. Nearly a decade later, I am [...]

Review: Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World”

Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World has long been one of my very favorite works of speculative fiction, so when I heard this exceptional debate from Intelligence Squared toward the end of last year, I couldn’t resist returning once again to the land of soma orgies, hypnopaedic conditioning, and Centrifugal Bumble-puppy. Almost a century after its original publication, this captivating novel still [...]

My Year of Bookish Wisdom: 2017

Introduction: A Portent of Chaos Those who know me well understand that my vision of humanity’s possible futures runs the gamut from wildly optimistic to oppressively grim. My cynical tendencies are received from my father, a man many have called “Eeyore“ after the droopy donkey that doled out gloomy auguries to the inhabitants of the Hundred Acre [...]

Review: George Orwell’s “1984″

George Orwell’s 1984 is one of those books about which it is probably impossible to say anything new or interesting. Much like its protagonist’s tortured mind and body, Orwell’s masterpiece has been prodded, cut open, and drained of its juices by many minds that surpass my own. My intention for this review, then, is just to leave [...]

Review: Lauren Groff’s “Arcadia”

For the first hundred pages or so, Lauren Groff’s Arcadia fooled me into thinking it was something less than a spectacular novel. It begins on an eponymous commune in western New York State during the 1970s, hitting all the tiresome notes one expects from a narrative about people trying to “beat the system” with hard work and [...]

Review: Robert M. Sapolsky’s “Behave”

Books that examine the relationship between science and morality have become ubiquitous, so readers interested in these important subjects need to choose carefully. It is not an overstatement to say that one could do no better than to alight on Robert M. Sapolsky’s Behave. This engrossing, encyclopedic examination of the causal mechanisms that determine human behavior is [...]