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Author Topic: Reading this summer  (Read 58530 times)

Aimless

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Reading this summer
« on: 07 Jun 2008, 12:43 »

After a very long, very trying, and very unsettling year, I have decided I must try to find myself again, go back to a sort of beginning and pick out a  slightly different path which I may then tread in a slightly (or dramatically) different way from the previous. An important part of this endeavour will be to return to my bookish roots. However, this time, instead of immersing myself in worlds of fantasy fiction, I have decided I'll immerse myself in reading of more substance.

The thought occurred to me that I may not be the only person who'll be caught by the summer reading bug, and I thought it might be nice to see what y'all are (or will be) reading over the next few months :)

I've recently discovered the works of Oliver Sacks, in particular his collections of case-histories (although that term hardly does them justice) The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat and An Anthropologist on Mars.

Oliver Sacks, besides being a neurologist, is also a skilled writer and populariser. His writing style is intensely personal, almost intimate at times, and he approaches every case with a degree of humanity that can never be permitted in, for example, textbooks on neurology.

In addition to the remarkable accounts of some of his more memorable patients, the books are jam packed full of very interesting footnotes, quotes from texts spanning many centuries, and a large (and, of course, very interesting) bibliography. This "extra" content integrates very well with--and always enriches--the main text, and made me view the time I invested in reading them as being very well invested time indeed.

The only real complaint I have is that I now don't know which of the many references I should pursue first, having come across so many promising ones. Reader beware!

But, despite this... if you've ever wondered, for example, what it might be like to forget the very concept of "seeing"... do check out Oliver Sacks, and other writers like him (Antonio Damasio is a name that springs to mind). I think that you, too, will find the effort worthwhile :)

Cheers!

-- P
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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #1 on: 07 Jun 2008, 12:48 »

I recently picked up Patriot Games and The Hunt for the Red October recently, so, now I'm on a Clancy high, I'm now somewhere in the middle of Clear and Present Danger (my favourite of his novels).

I also picked up Day of Vipers, which I'm totally looking forward to, and I need to grab the next two of the trilogy.
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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #2 on: 07 Jun 2008, 12:58 »

I just now finally got around to reading Swanwick's Jack Faust and it is brilliant.  It's a quick, to the point read, like Stations of the Tide, though not quite that short (and not quite as good, but close).

I didn't even know until yesterday about his sequel to The Iron Dragon's Daughter, which is one of the most gloriously bizarre novels I've ever read, so I'll probably read that next.
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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #3 on: 07 Jun 2008, 13:05 »

I'm re-reading The Idiot by Dostoevsky, because it's brilliant and I love it.  Next, my friend is lending me a bunch of Philip K. Dick novels.

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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #4 on: 07 Jun 2008, 13:36 »

Philip K. Dick is one of the three best novelists ever.

Some of his books are not masterpieces, but the sheer number of his that are more than makes up for it.

If you want to read the best first, go for:

Flow My Tears the Policeman Said
Clans of the Alphane Moon
The Game-players of Titan
A Scanner Darkly
Dr. Bloodmoney
VALIS
Counter-clock World
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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #5 on: 07 Jun 2008, 13:46 »

I think I'm gonna attempt to reread the entire Song of Ice and Fire series thus far in preparation for the A Dance With Dragons release. If I start now, I should be just about done by the time it comes out.

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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #6 on: 07 Jun 2008, 14:19 »

I got the second volume of Gaiman's Sandman yesterday while I was getting the 4th edition player's handbook.
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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #7 on: 07 Jun 2008, 14:22 »

Philip K. Dick is one of the three best novelists ever.

Some of his books are not masterpieces, but the sheer number of his that are more than makes up for it.

If you want to read the best first, go for:

Flow My Tears the Policeman Said
Clans of the Alphane Moon
The Game-players of Titan
A Scanner Darkly
Dr. Bloodmoney
VALIS
Counter-clock World


I would like to add Ubik to this list. Otherwise, I agree with all of those recommendations.
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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #8 on: 07 Jun 2008, 17:56 »

This summer I will be splitting my reading equally a selection of the required reading for my course next semester and books I've been meaning to read but have't had the time because of uni. If all goes to plan I will read:

The Naked Lunch by William Burroughs
The Acid House by Irvine Welsh
Desolation Angels by Jack Kerouac
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S Thompson
Rip it Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984 by Simon Reynolds
Troilus and Cressida by William Shakespeare
Paradise Lost by John Milton
The Mill on The Floss by George Eliot
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
The Importance Of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
Ulysses by James Joyce

I love summer reading.
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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #9 on: 07 Jun 2008, 20:52 »

I probably have over 40 books that I hope to read during the summer
highlights are

The God Delusion
Hitler: A Study in Tyranny
Ghandhi
The Grapes of Wrath
The Hours
The Deviners
Faust
War and Peace
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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #10 on: 07 Jun 2008, 21:34 »

The Naked Lunch by William Burroughs

I kind of really want to read this now that I am halfway through On the Road by Jack Kerouac, and loving it.
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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #11 on: 07 Jun 2008, 21:49 »

I honestly don't think I could ever make it through A Song of Ice and Fire again just on its own merits, but I definitely want to read A Dance With Dragons pretty badly.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe is amazing Oli, and Ikrik, The Grapes of Wrath should be on the top of your list, it'll go quickly since its not all that long and you won't be able to put it down anyway.

I would love to find some good fiction to read over the summer, but I really don't want anything "serious" of "of substance." I guess I should plow through the Recommendations thread to see if there's any Fantasy/ sci-fi in there that I haven't read yet.
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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #12 on: 07 Jun 2008, 22:09 »

Already read:
Waiting for Barbarians by Coetzee
Cat's Cradle by Vonnegut
The Savage Detectives by Balano
The Crying of Lot 49 by Pynchon

To read:
Don Quixote
V by Pynchon

Hopefully a lot more.
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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #13 on: 07 Jun 2008, 22:33 »

It's really funny when people read On the Road for the first time and they're so excited like it's totally changed their life. It's basically the same thing as when a 14 year old first hears Zeppelin or Sabbath.

I've read a good bit of Dick, but as you say, he was quite prolific. Of those on the list, I've read Flow My Tears, VALIS, and A Scanner Darkly. I actually just found out a week ago that there was more to VALIS than just VALIS, I guess it's a trilogy of sorts? My gateway to Dick was of course, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. The books I've already asked to borrow are Radio Free Albemuth, The Man in the High Castle,  Ubik and The Divine Invasion.

Whew. Aside from enjoying lots of Dick this summer, I also plan to read a lot of Harlan Ellison. Especially I plan to try and track down copies of his novels, as I never even knew he wrote anything but short stories (and screenplays and scripts and things).

Finaly: Oh man, Oli, I would totally read a book about post-punk 1978-1984. I have to make a note of that title somewhere.

Edit: Cat's Cradle is my favorite book by Vonnegut!

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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #14 on: 07 Jun 2008, 23:26 »

 After I finish reading Dracula, I'll move onto the large Poe anthology and the slightly smaller Wilde anthology I got last year. I might start reading Thomas Mann's Doctor Faustus if I can be bothered.

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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #15 on: 07 Jun 2008, 23:43 »

The God Delusion

Really?  Why?  Dawkins is the worst kind of atheist, and his books are nauseatingly ignorant and intentionally controversial.  He's no better a writer for atheists than the Left Behind series for Christians.  He's like the Rush Limbaugh of atheism, preaching entirely to the choir and trotting out nothing but superficial and uninformed criticisms of his opponents.

Basically everything I think about Dawkins was said better in this review of The God Delusion, which neatly outlines exactly why his books are useless.

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n20/eagl01_.html

The opening thesis paragraph sums it up, so if you're not up to the lengthy detail the review goes into (though it is really a good read) then here:

"Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology. Card-carrying rationalists like Dawkins, who is the nearest thing to a professional atheist we have had since Bertrand Russell, are in one sense the least well-equipped to understand what they castigate, since they don’t believe there is anything there to be understood, or at least anything worth understanding. This is why they invariably come up with vulgar caricatures of religious faith that would make a first-year theology student wince. The more they detest religion, the more ill-informed their criticisms of it tend to be. If they were asked to pass judgment on phenomenology or the geopolitics of South Asia, they would no doubt bone up on the question as assiduously as they could. When it comes to theology, however, any shoddy old travesty will pass muster. These days, theology is the queen of the sciences in a rather less august sense of the word than in its medieval heyday."
« Last Edit: 07 Jun 2008, 23:45 by zerodrone »
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Jimmy the Squid

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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #16 on: 08 Jun 2008, 00:30 »

Well, it's Winter here but I just borrowed the 8 books of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher from Est. I've read the first one and they are really pleasently written detective novels about a wizard. I am so down with the noir-ish style that Butcher is good at that I'm really excited  to read the rest of them (I have two months of holidays starting last week).  I'm also going to borrow my friend's copy of Psychopathia Sexualis by Richard Von Kraftt-Ebbing which is, though outdated, meant to be fascinating.
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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #17 on: 08 Jun 2008, 01:07 »

I watched some of the Dreseden Files TV series and thought it was pretty good; I've been meaning to read them as some quick, brainless fun, especially since I am very interested in the occult.  I was impressed that the show (and, I'm guessing, the books) were very accurate about a lot of esoteric magical axioms and whatnot.
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KharBevNor

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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #18 on: 08 Jun 2008, 01:10 »

The God Delusion

Really?  Why?

So, if you don't like the dudes work, no one should read it? I don't particularly agree with the God Delusions reasoning myself but it's one of the most discussed books of the day. It's probably a good idea to have an opinion on it, and you can only get a proper opinion on a book by reading it. Are you afraid that other people do not have the capacity to read a book and not agree with it? Jesus.

I've got a few books lined up which I've bought but just haven't had time to get through. Most of these I've already started reading on a train or ferry but have just never finished.

Neomi Klein - No Logo
Ernst Gombrich - The Story of Art
Peter Bistkind - Easy Riders, Raging Bulls
Robert Service - Stalin: A Biography
Orlando Figes - Natashas Dance: A Cultural History of Russia
Robert M. Pirsig - Lila: An Enquiry Into Morals

I'll set aside a week some time over the summer to sit out in the garden in my floppy army hat with cigarettes and coca cola and read 'em. I'm particularly looking forward to Stalin; Service's biography of Lenin was one of the best history books I've ever read*, also Lila, the 'sequel', as it were, to Zen And The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which apparently enters into the metaphysics of Pirsig's philosophy of quality, which is already brilliant. The Story of Art should be interesting, though from what I remember of reading parts of it, it is rather dated and western-centric; No Logo is a book various, often unwashed people have been telling me to read for years.

I also just finished reading "How to Kill", by Kris Hollington. It's a history of assassination in the late 20th century. Fascinating stuff.

*Though of course, Orlando Figes 'A People's Tragedy' was the best history book I've ever read. I really should read more history books not about Russia.
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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #19 on: 08 Jun 2008, 01:32 »

So, if you don't like the dudes work, no one should read it? I don't particularly agree with the God Delusions reasoning myself but it's one of the most discussed books of the day. It's probably a good idea to have an opinion on it, and you can only get a proper opinion on a book by reading it. Are you afraid that other people do not have the capacity to read a book and not agree with it?

Well, no, but I don't think I need to read the entire Left Behind series or Dianetics to have an opinion about it.

The fact is that Dawkins is actually not seriously discussed among the academia.  He's a pop-culturist, not a serious and informed critic.  As is obvious from reading him, and pointed out in the article I linked, he is writing about religion with almost literally zero knowledge of it.
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KharBevNor

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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #20 on: 08 Jun 2008, 01:44 »

And when was the last time you personally participated in an academic level debate on religious philosophy?
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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #21 on: 08 Jun 2008, 01:54 »

Well, it's Winter here but I just borrowed the 8 books of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher from Est. I've read the first one and they are really pleasently written detective novels about a wizard. I am so down with the noir-ish style that Butcher is good at that I'm really excited  to read the rest of them (I have two months of holidays starting last week).  I'm also going to borrow my friend's copy of Psychopathia Sexualis by Richard Von Kraftt-Ebbing which is, though outdated, meant to be fascinating.

Those both sound very interesting.
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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #22 on: 08 Jun 2008, 02:04 »

I've been participating in academic debates, though not official ones, on religion for the last 6 months or so and I'm pretty glad I'm such a Dawkins' fanboy.

Obviously I quite like The God Delusion but not just because I agree with (almost) everything it says but also because I think it's a book that needed to be written. Religion is something that everyone tip-toes around for no reason other than that they're afraid of offending someone who believes things that are a little silly. When you live in a world where things like Creationism and Abstinence-Only sex ed. are being taught in government funded schools, where government officials, the people with actual power, are naiive enough to believe the universe is only 6,000 years old, it is important that there are voices of reason out there that people can turn to.

Yeah The God Delusion is intentionally contraversial, but I wouldn't call them ignorant. And I'm not claiming to be an expert on anything here, I go out of my way not to read Christian apologetics because I am really not interested in what they have to say. I just feel that Dawkins' work is important and really very interesting, especially given that his writing style is really straightforward and conversational.

In the same vein I highly recommend Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris and Atheist Universe by David Mills.
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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #23 on: 08 Jun 2008, 02:37 »

Yeah The God Delusion is intentionally contraversial, but I wouldn't call them ignorant. And I'm not claiming to be an expert on anything here, I go out of my way not to read Christian apologetics

Did you even read the article I linked?  It is not written from a standpoint that Christianity, or any religion, is "right".  It simply points out very effectively that Dawkins' concept of religion is factually inaccurate, that his perception of God is exactly the same as boorish Evangelicals and the only difference is that he doesn't like the concept and they do.  Dawkins has nothing to say about real theology and it is fairly apparent the reason is that he has no knowledge of real theology.  His brand of utilitarian worldview is about as laughably po-faced as Ayn Rand's and, I suspect, would make Buddha himself LOL.

"Oh what fools these mortals be."
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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #24 on: 08 Jun 2008, 03:13 »

Well it's not as if he is writing for academics or theologists (the most worthless field of study in my own worthless opinion). He's writing for the average guy on the street, the average Christian who can't name all 12 of the apostles or who don't know who Moses was but swear blind that they know it all anyway. If his perception of God is the same as the boorish Televangelists it is because that is the perception of God that he is arguing against. The God Delusion comes with a preface that quite baldly states that only extreme, fundemental religion is really being addressed (though I grant you that his arguments can be extrapolated onto moderate religion as well, though that may or may not be a good idea).
I suppose his books are not up to your high standards and so if you don't want to read them don't. The reason he is so vitriolic is because more attention is likely to be paid to a book like that than a more softly spoken one. I'm sure it's very noble to keep a cool head when your opponent is shouting so loud his face is purple and his veins are bulging to the point of bursting but you won't make yourself heard.

On the other hand, if you've ever seen Dawkins actually debate his point it is in quite a civilised and calm manner (which is exactly the advice given most often on the dawkinsforum, of which I am an active member) so it's possible that you're reading things out of context and getting the wrong end of the stick.

If you're telling us we shouldn't read a book because you've read it and you thought it wasn't any good (for whatever reason) then great, we might take it into consideration, but, and I don't know about anyone else, I pay little attention to critics so if all you have to provide against the book is someone else's opinion (an opinion that is in a minority given the amount of acolades the book has gotten Dawkins) then I doubt your words will have that much of an effect really.

Those both sound very interesting.

They are, Psychopathia Sexualis is basically an attempt to categorise sexual "deviances" and disorders both psychologically and neurologically. I flicked through it a bit last week and it looks pretty good. As I said it is a bit out dated (being written in 1904 it still classifies homosexuality as a disorder and any, non vaginal sex as a deviation but for things like fetishes and paraphilias it's meant to be quite good) but fascinating if, like me, you're interested in the psychology behind sexuality.
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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #25 on: 08 Jun 2008, 03:29 »

Last time I heard Dawkins attempting to debate anyone he was shrilly demanding John Humphries demand the same kind of proof of the existence of god from religious figures as the proof he'd demand from a politician to back up their statements. Then he started ranting about truth and how they were denying it. Talk about missing the point, and I was appalled a supposed scientist and athiest could believe in the idea of some fundamental, absolute truth that could be definitely proved one way or another. He sounded far more ridiculous and less open to reason and debate than most of the religious leaders you get on The Today Programme.

I've just started Raoul Vaneigem's ' The Revolution of Everyday Life'. After that it'll probably be Hardt & Negri's 'Empire' and Kropotkin's 'Fields, Factories And Workshops Tomorrow' as well as Pauline Hopkins' 'Of One Blood' since I need to read that one soon for an essay. I thought I might finally give Baudrillard's 'Simulacra And Simulation' a shot after that, and maybe get something by Bob Black since I've only ever read a short pamphlet by him but it was a lot of fun. I think I'll read Andrey Kurkov's 'The President's Last Love' at the same time as Vaneigem as well, it'll be nice to read a contemporary novel for once.
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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #26 on: 08 Jun 2008, 03:31 »

Well, touche?
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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #27 on: 08 Jun 2008, 03:52 »

He sounded far more ridiculous and less open to reason and debate

And this is another of the arguments against Dawkins, is that while he extolls us to be skeptical and debate, his own version of atheism is incredibly dogmatic.  There's not much wiggle-room to explain it; it's brazen hypocrisy.
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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #28 on: 08 Jun 2008, 04:35 »

Quote from: KharBevNor
also Lila, the 'sequel', as it were, to Zen And The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which apparently enters into the metaphysics of Pirsig's philosophy of quality, which is already brilliant.
I had a friend who read Lila. We both had really liked Zen...his take on Lila was that Pirsig took back just about everything he said in Zen. It rather upset my friend. I'd be interested in hearing what you think of it.
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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #29 on: 08 Jun 2008, 07:34 »

Since I'm done with uni and everything, I'll just read the stuff I've been meaning to read for the past few years, like Vonnegut. I have a list of books, I just need to find it or get lost in a library.
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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #30 on: 08 Jun 2008, 07:46 »

From the review of Dawkins's book:

Quote from: Terry Eagleton
What, one wonders, are Dawkins’s views on the epistemological differences between Aquinas and Duns Scotus? Has he read Eriugena on subjectivity, Rahner on grace or Moltmann on hope? Has he even heard of them? Or does he imagine like a bumptious young barrister that you can defeat the opposition while being complacently ignorant of its toughest case?

To which there is a response:

Quote from: P.Z. Myers
I have considered the impudent accusations of Mr. Dawkins with exasperation at his lack of serious scholarship.  He has apparently not read the detailed discourses of Count Roderigo of Seville on the exquisite and exotic leathers of the Emperor's boots, nor does he give a moment's consideration to Bellini's masterwork, On the Luminescence of the Emperor's Feathered Hat.  We have entire schools dedicated to writing learned treatises on the beauty of the Emperor's raiment, and every major newspaper runs a section dedicated to imperial fashion... Dawkins arrogantly ignores all these deep philosophical ponderings to crudely accuse the Emperor of nudity... Until Dawkins has trained in the shops of Paris and Milan, until he has learned to tell the difference between a ruffled flounce and a puffy pantaloon, we should all pretend he has not spoken out against the Emperor's taste.  his training in biology may give him the ability to recognize dangling genitalia when he sees it, but it has not taught him the proper appreciation of Imaginary Fabrics.
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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #31 on: 08 Jun 2008, 10:05 »

Brilliant.
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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #32 on: 08 Jun 2008, 11:24 »

Not really. If all Dawkins actually did was to say 'there is no god' then applauding him for it would be laughable. I came to that conclusion when I was in primary school, and it doesn't take me an entire book to state my position. Either I'm a genius or there's a bit more to The God Delusion and it's mostly about religion, not just a statement that god is absent from the universe. If you're going to look at religion don't you think it would be sensible to try and understand what that actually is before doing so?

Regardless of his utter failure to grasp the subject, the part I find most disturbing about him is his insistence that anyone who deviates from his line of thinking is stupid and inferior. This is the same practice as some of the more unpleasant teachings of certain religions, that condemn heretical thought that deviates from dogma. The world has enough forces attempting to hem people's thoughts in without Dawkins creating a new religion to kick the boot in as well.

Also, guys, could you maybe take the god/no god debate somewhere else? It has got little to do with the topic at hand.

I disagree, it's a debate about one of the authors mentioned and isn't at all to do with whether or not god exists. Unless we're just supposed to list books without discussing them I'd say it's pretty on topic.
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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #33 on: 08 Jun 2008, 11:31 »

Dawkins addresses the many popular arguments for the god hypothesis, and many of the negative aspects of religion.  It's been many months since I read it, so I don't have a good synopsis on the tip of my brain.  He also discusses the many excuses for religion.  For example, the "I'm an atheist, but..." statements you'll often hear.  People who believe in belief, without believing themselves.  And the question of whether you can be moral without religion. 
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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #34 on: 08 Jun 2008, 13:26 »

Uncle Tungsten, also by Oliver Sacks, is a great read. It's not like the case studies in The Man Who Mistook his Wife for A Hat, it's about his childhood and how he fell in love with chemistry.
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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #35 on: 08 Jun 2008, 13:27 »

Anyone who can so much as spell "sociology" knows that people can be moral without religion.  "Addressing" topics like that only further the point that Dawkins is a pop-culture hack, not someone who writes serious, informed arguments.

The "emperor has no clothes" rebuttal is not brilliant, it's flip and completely beside the point, of interest only to the choir he preaches to.

I dare anyone who likes Dawkins to actually outline anything in his books that they didn't already know or believe before reading them.
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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #36 on: 08 Jun 2008, 14:45 »

If you're talking about morals in religion or anything to do with religion, you have to understand different aspects of the religions you want to talk about before people take you seriously. It's like having a person who's never studied psychology arguing with a psychologist about whether or not Multiple Personality Disorder exists. (Which actually is, or at least was, a real debate about whether or not doctors/patients were making it up.) Besides, apologetics of all kinds can be useful if you're interested in those sorts of topics.
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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #37 on: 08 Jun 2008, 15:47 »

Anyone who can so much as spell "sociology" knows that people can be moral without religion.  "Addressing" topics like that only further the point that Dawkins is a pop-culture hack, not someone who writes serious, informed arguments.
I've had conversations with otherwise quite intelligent and well-read people who earnestly believed that morality could not be separated from religion and that atheists were necessarily immoral.  It's a topic that needs to be brought to general attention.  It's why more than half the American populace will still not vote for an atheist for public office.

Quote
The "emperor has no clothes" rebuttal is not brilliant, it's flip and completely beside the point, of interest only to the choir he preaches to.
It's not flip, though it may be dismissive.  The very first paragraph of the linked article accuses Dawkins of gross ignorance.  I will, once again, quote from the article that the "emperor has no clothes" rebuttal in fact rebuts.

Quote
What, one wonders, are Dawkins’s views on the epistemological differences between Aquinas and Duns Scotus? Has he read Eriugena on subjectivity, Rahner on grace or Moltmann on hope? Has he even heard of them?
Now I'll go ahead and explain for you what the rebuttal meant.  If you're talking about the existence of God, who gives a good god damn about the epistemological differences between Aquinas and Duns Scotus?  The subjectivity of Eriugena, the grace of Rahner, or the hope of Moltmann are all also equally not the point.  It's like insisting that someone learn all about different types of shoes, about the materials from which one could make shoes, and the different uses of shoes before he's allowed to point out that there isn't a pair of shoes in the middle of the floor.

The author of the linked review also, apparently, either didn't read Dawkins's book fully or else he didn't understand it.  One of the points Dawkins made was that if you have a god who makes an appreciable and continuing difference in the universe (say, through miracles) then you must have an observable god.  Effect and cause are linked.  He then goes on to describe the rebuttals of contemporary theologians, with whom Dawkins has many discussions on these subjects, and they are almost uniformally a retreat into defined nonexistence.  In short, they necessarily define god in such a way that there is no difference between a god who exists and one who does not.  He lets the point stand for itself.


Quote
I dare anyone who likes Dawkins to actually outline anything in his books that they didn't already know or believe before reading them.
He convinced me not to be an apatheist, not to be an apologist who believes in belief.  He convinced me that religion is more harmful than not.  He also made me aware of a number of arguments and issues I'd not been previously aware of, such as labeling children as being of a religion.
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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #38 on: 08 Jun 2008, 16:04 »

Wow, I never expected that me saying I was reading The God Delusion during the summer would be such a big deal.  I'm already an athiest so the guy isn't converting me but I have read a hundred pages or so and he does make some amazing arguments.  My mom, however, turned me into an athiest way before Dawkins could ever find me.  Dawkins is a smart guy, no matter what anyone says, and it takes a guy with a lot of guts to stand up to religion and to take all the heat that this guy has taken, and he does defend himself quite well.
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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #39 on: 08 Jun 2008, 16:49 »

Dawkins is a smart guy, no matter what anyone says, and it takes a guy with a lot of guts to stand up to religion and to take all the heat that this guy has taken, and he does defend himself quite well.

Yeah, and I'm sure the piles of cash he's made in the process are a massive burden, too.

edit: What I mean to say here is that, regardless of how valid his arguments are, I don't think it's really fair to portray him as a particularly brave man - he's an astute businessman, and the controversial point he has made has been fairly calculated in terms of drawing attention to himself, which serves both to get his argument noticed, and to sell a lot of books.
« Last Edit: 08 Jun 2008, 16:51 by october1983 »
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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #40 on: 08 Jun 2008, 16:55 »

Guys, let's just quit with the religion talk, alright? If you really want to argue about the book start a thread for it and let us get back to the topic of summer reading in this one.

I just finished Before Night Falls by Reinaldo Arenas, his autobiography. It is quite possibly one of the best books I have ever read. I highly recommend it.

At this point in time, I plan on doing a lot of re-reading this summer. I brought my mom's set of Little House books from home and I'm going through them all again for the fun of that. After that I plan on doing the Harry Potter series once through, then maybe moving on to some other things. I kinda want to read House of Leaves a second time before school starts again as well.
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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #41 on: 08 Jun 2008, 17:20 »

rereading Harry Potter?  Are you sure it's worth it? 

I have 3-4 Yukio Mishima books that I'm also going to be reading this summer, they're pretty short so it'll be exciting.
I also have 3 books that total over 3000 pages on the Civil Rights Movement, they're called Parting the Waters, Pillars of Fire and something about Canaan by Taylor Branch, I'm pretty excited about it.
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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #42 on: 08 Jun 2008, 17:36 »

I love Harry Potter, so it's totally worth it.
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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #43 on: 08 Jun 2008, 17:47 »

If you're talking about the existence of God, who gives a good god damn about the epistemological differences between Aquinas and Duns Scotus?  The subjectivity of Eriugena, the grace of Rahner, or the hope of Moltmann are all also equally not the point.

As has been noted, The God Delusion's contention is not merely the nonexistance of God, but the value of religion.  If Dawkins wants to discuss the value of religion, he should be aware of it.  I cannot believe anyone is seriously denying that.

You say he opened your eyes to the harm religion has caused.  What about the good it has caused?  What about the harm science has caused?  All inventions of man can be used in various ways, whether it's a Bible or an atom bomb.

Quote from: Misconception
Guys, let's just quit with the religion talk, alright?

We're not talking about religion, we're talking about an author and one of his books that was brought up in this thread.  How about let's quit with the backseat moderating and telling people what to post about?  Unless this thread really is supposed to just be a list of books without any discussion, in which case, what's the point of that?
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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #44 on: 08 Jun 2008, 17:56 »

Now I'll go ahead and explain for you what the rebuttal meant.  If you're talking about the existence of God, who gives a good god damn about the epistemological differences between Aquinas and Duns Scotus?  The subjectivity of Eriugena, the grace of Rahner, or the hope of Moltmann are all also equally not the point.  It's like insisting that someone learn all about different types of shoes, about the materials from which one could make shoes, and the different uses of shoes before he's allowed to point out that there isn't a pair of shoes in the middle of the floor.

That's a bad analogy. It's more like a failure to first understand what people mean when they use the word 'shoe'. The 'emperor's new clothes' argument is quite reminiscent of Dawkins' approach really, since it decides upon the opposing argument instead of listening to it. I agree with the conclusion Dawkins draws about the existence of god but unless you live in an environment conducive to it religious faith, particularly in a specifically Judeo-Christian god, requires an effort to sustain. It's really not hard at all to reach the conclusion of atheism. A child can do it. The assertion is not where Dawkins fails, he fails in his belief in the superiority in intellect and moral character of those who make it. Look at this quote from the first chapter of The God Delusion:

Quote from: Richard Dawkins
The president of a historical society in New Jersey wrote a letter that so damningly exposes the weakness of the religious mind, it is worth reading twice... What a devastatingly revealing letter! Every sentence drips with intellectual and moral cowardice.

The letter itself is indeed very timid, he's right. However, Dawkns' glee and desire to revel in his own superiority are so extreme. As I said before, atheism is easy and for a man like Dawkins (a white, wealthy, English academic) it's the norm. It would be far more unusual if he said he did believe in god, so why is he so pleased with himself? He pours scorn upon anyone who disagrees with his philosophy, just like a preacher railing against heretics. If Dawkins had his way thought would advance no further than the enlightenment.

Quote from: Surgoshan
The author of the linked review also, apparently, either didn't read Dawkins's book fully or else he didn't understand it.  One of the points Dawkins made was that if you have a god who makes an appreciable and continuing difference in the universe (say, through miracles) then you must have an observable god.  Effect and cause are linked.  He then goes on to describe the rebuttals of contemporary theologians, with whom Dawkins has many discussions on these subjects, and they are almost uniformally a retreat into defined nonexistence.  In short, they necessarily define god in such a way that there is no difference between a god who exists and one who does not.  He lets the point stand for itself.

It makes no difference to him. It does make a difference to those who believe if they think that view of the world is true or not, and he never seems to even try to really get his head around that. It's their means of understanding and interpreting existence. As the review zerodrone linked points out he doesn't appear to have a good conception of what people actually believe (which is why it brought up the question of whether or not he'd read any other theologians, since it can seem doubtful). It's a failure to understand that something which cannot be tested using the scientific method (and this doesn't mean unobservable at all, as Dawkins claims, just untestable) can have validity for people. Should I not only disregard religion but also ignore the philosophy of Guy Debord since I have no means of testing for the existence of the spectacle? Even so, I believe in it. I think I'll give the last word to Raoul Vaneigem since I'm really enjoying 'The Revolution of Everyday Life' right now:

Quote from: Raoul Vaneigem
ten thousand people are convinced that they have seen a fakir's rope rise into the air, while so many cameras prove that it hasn't moved an inch. Scientific objectivity exposes mystification. Very good, but what does it show us? A coiled rope of absolutely no interest. I have little inclination to choose between the doubtful pleasure of being mystified and the tedium of contemplating a reality which does not concern me. A reality which I have no grasp of, isn't this the old lie reconditioned, the highest stage of mystification?
From now on the analysts are in the streets. Lucidity is not their only weapon. Their thought is no longer in danger of being imprisoned, either by the false reality of gods or by the false reality of technocrats.
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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #45 on: 08 Jun 2008, 20:18 »

We're not talking about religion, we're talking about an author and one of his books that was brought up in this thread.  How about let's quit with the backseat moderating and telling people what to post about?  Unless this thread really is supposed to just be a list of books without any discussion, in which case, what's the point of that?

She has a point, so don't get all huffy. You guys are taking over the thread with that book and that guy's philosophies, so maybe a separate thread would be better. I thought this was going to be a thread about what people were reading and recommending stuff back and forth and later on maybe what people thought of the stuff they read, not some big ass debate about one book. But whatever, continue your debate thing and the rest of us can just dig through and find the posts relevant to the topic.
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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #46 on: 08 Jun 2008, 21:27 »

while on the topic of religion, i'm currently reading through the christ clone trilogy, suprizingly well done it ends up reading more like a political thriller than anything else however if you feel like you're going to take offence to something like this DON'T READ IT...very simple rule

on the topic of the god delusion, while dawkins does make a good argument against the merits of being a thestic beliver in god other more mild forms or a desitic belief in god are almost entierly ignored
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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #47 on: 08 Jun 2008, 21:39 »

Looking over the Dawkins debate, both points are pretty valid for whether it should be in this thread or not. There is a huge amount more on The God Delusion compared to anything else mentioned, which will inevitably take away from discussion of other books. That's not a good thing, there is too much of a concentration on that one book. On the other hand just listing books and saying you either like, dislike or are looking forward to them is a bit boring if that's all there is and that was one book a few people had something to say about. Also, the other people to complain about the discussion didn't phrase it very well, it made it sound like they thought it was completely off-topic and about religion in general when it wasn't.

Paradise Lost by John Milton
The Importance Of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
Ulysses by James Joyce

So moving onto some other books, these are some interesting choices. Paradise Lost is fascinating, the whole debate over what point Milton was making by having Satan as such a sympathetic character and so central to the poem. Personally I go for the 'trap for the unwary reader' theory but you can make a good case for so many interpretations. Then there's the way he brings in so many different concepts, from the theological to the political and intertwines them all. It's great stuff.

I was reminded of The Importance... and Ulysses when I was re-reading Alison Bechdel's Fun Home the other day. I love The Importance... (and like her, the first time I read it the queer subtext went completely over my head) but I've still never managed Ulysses. I quickly get hung up on how much I'm missing due to my lack of familiarity with the classics and the Bible. Anyone else ever feel like that? I might give it another shot this summer myself, I've always felt never managing more than a little of it made for a gaping hole in my reading.
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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #48 on: 08 Jun 2008, 22:19 »

Oli

You will never finish Ulysses....ever.  Anyone who says that they've read Ulysses is a liar UNLESS they've read it over a period of at least 3 months.  If anyone tries to tell you that they've read that book in a week first laugh and then kill them in a horrible way, liars like that should be punished. 

I'm personally planning to tackle it summer of next year as it will be my first year of university and I'll have 2 months longer for summer which will hopefully allow me to get somewhere through it.
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Re: Reading this summer
« Reply #49 on: 08 Jun 2008, 22:55 »

I read Ulysses in a week or so.  Granted, reading it at "normal book speed" means you are not going to understand some of it, but it is certainly possible to get through it and get the general gist.

Now, Gravity's Rainbow, ugh.  There's a point at which stylistic prose detracts from a book's value rather than adding to it.
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