How and why did Philosophy begin in Greece? The traditional answer to this question points at a group of thinkers that become consecrated as the predecessors and forefathers of philosophical inquiry. Since the early 20th Century they are known collectively as the Presocratics and, according to a tradition that originates in Plato and Aristotle, these early thinkers have been mainly interested in the study of the physical world. Aristotle declared famously that 'of the first philosophers…most thought the principles which were of the nature of matter were the only principles of all t Click here to read the full review!
The Problem of War Darwinism, Christianity, and their Battle to Understand Human Conflict By Michael Ruse Review by Fred Guyette on Tue, Feb 12th 2019.
In The Sermon of the Mount, Jesus taught his followers that they must "turn the other cheek" if ever they were struck by an enemy. When Jesus himself was being arrested by the soldiers of Rome, he did not defend himself. Peter drew his sword to fight for him, but Jesus commanded him to put it away. Then Jesus went willingly to be tried and executed by Pilate. However, Christianity became the state religion early in the fourth century, and roughly a hundred years later we find Augustine writing about the conditions that must be met for Christian warriors to fight for a just cause (p. 49-54). In Click here to read the full review!
I Am Dynamite! A Life of Nietzsche By Sue Prideaux Review by Christian Perring on Tue, Feb 12th 2019.
Having struggled mightily to make sense of Nietzsche's moral philosophy and assess whether his work is worth studying, I found Sue Prideaux's biography of the man a revelation. Putting his ideas in the context of his life, showing the development of his ideas and how they were reactions to his life circumstances, Prideaux makes sense of Nietzsche. It is also very helpful to know what most of his works were written in a great rush, between his illnesses, while he was able to focus, battling the severe problems with his eyesight. This explains why so much of his work looks like a stream of wild Click here to read the full review!
America's Jails The Search for Human Dignity in an Age of Mass Incarceration By Derek Jeffreys Review by Anna K. Swartz on Tue, Feb 12th 2019.
Do not waste your time reading America's Jails, which is yet account of a privileged white outsider speaking for and over (and thus, silencing) the voices of the incarcerated under the ruse of protecting them. The book written by Derek Jeffreys, a market-minded professor of humanistic studies and religion at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay, epitomizes a phenomenon described by Cole (2012) as the "White Industrial Savior Complex," which, as he writes, is "not about justice" but "about having a big emotional experience that validates privilege." Who thought this was a good idea? Click here to read the full review!
The nature of the person is one of the most discussed and most controversial issues in modern philosophy and also recently, in psychology. The phenomenon of split brain cases presents a puzzle for our understanding and thinking about what it is to be a person, for in such cases we are not sure whether only one person or two distinct persons associated with each one of the hemispheres, exist in one body. Split-brain surgeries involve a complete or partial section of the corpus callosum and consequently divides all direct links between the hemispheres in order to cure epileptic seizures in 1960' Click here to read the full review!
No Apparent Distress A Doctor's Coming of Age on the Front Lines of American Medicine By Rachel Pearson Review by Christian Perring on Tue, Feb 5th 2019.
This memoir by Rachel Pearson details her extraordinary childhood in poverty with a loving family that moulded her personality, her success in education and her start in creative writing, and then her move to medical school and then working as a medical student in rural Texas. She is a talented writer who is profoundly concerned with social issues and the importance of fair and compassionate treatment for people who live in very difficult circumstances. Most of the memoir is about the free clinic she worked at in Galveston. Early in the work, she talks about the effect of Hurricane Ike on the Click here to read the full review!
The Witch Elm Tana French By Tana French Review by Christian Perring on Tue, Feb 5th 2019.
The Witch Elm won high praise in 2018 from critics, but was received less warmly by fans of Tana French's previous crime novels. It's a long book at over 500 pages, with the audiobook version at over 22 hours. Toby, a young Irishman, narrates his horrific story with its multiple twists and turns, leading to a particularly dark ending. There is a crime at the center for the story, but it does not fit neatly into the category of crime novel. It's both psychological and ethical, exploring Toby's fragile self-understanding and constantly prodding the reader to assess Toby's moral character. T Click here to read the full review!
Warlight A Novel By Michael Ondaatje Review by Bob Lane on Tue, Feb 5th 2019.
"Most of the great battles are fought in the creases of topographical maps."
That is the introductory quote for the novel. And, yes, it is a novel. But its subject matter and detail certainly suggest recent history, post WWII history, in and around London during and after the war. To get a good sense of the time and place I suggest reading the four pages of "Acknowledgements" at the end of the book where information about sources is extensive and useful.
Two personal notes before writing about the book: first, I want to say it is a beautifully written, often heartbreaking work t Click here to read the full review!
Literatures of Madness Disability Studies and Mental Health By Elizabeth J. Donaldson (Editor) Review by Diane R. Wiener, M.S.W., Ph.D. on Tue, Jan 22nd 2019.
This groundbreaking book takes as its premise a series of commitments to bridging myriad gaps, anew. In its formulations, which critique overtly but likewise adopt necessarily the specificities of academic publication requirements, a plethora of people's divergent disability ("crip") identities and variegated mental health/illness ("mad") identities no longer need to be split (no pun, here) along an already false binary line.
As the contributing authors demonstrate in various ways, by exploring fictional, autobiographical, imagistic, media, and other forms, one might self-identify Click here to read the full review!
Genetics in the Madhouse The Unknown History of Human Heredity By Theodore M. Porter Review by Diana Soeiro, Ph.D. on Tue, Jan 22nd 2019.
Those who are fascinated by numbers and the power they hold will find this book a good read. However, the decisive factor that makes this book highly relevant is that it addresses the power behind numbers in the realm of mental health institutions, between 1789 and 1939. In 'Madness and Civilization' (1964; 'Folie et Déraison', 1961), Michel Foucault describes the development of the concept of madness identifying three phases: the Renaissance, the 'Classical Age' (17th-18th) and the modern experience. Porter's current book picks up where Foucault left off. Furthermore, his goal is diffe Click here to read the full review!
Why Honor Matters By Tamler Sommers Review by Christian Perring on Tue, Jan 22nd 2019.
Tamler Sommers is a professor at the University of Houston who has been active in the experimental philosophy movement. He is author of A Very Bad Wizard, a collection of interviews with moral philosophers and psychologists, which was an offshoot of his podcast with David Pizarro, Very Bad Wizards. In his new book, Why Honor Matters, written for a trade publisher and aimed at a general readership, he makes a case that it is worth promoting honor as a virtue. Sommers himself reads the unabridged audiobook version of the book, and delivers a strong dose of conviction and warm Click here to read the full review!
The meaning of life is an everlasting question searched by great many people throughout human history. The same question has been in the agenda of philosophers since Ancient times, since it is mainly a philosophical question, strongly tied to the conception of what a good life consists of. But as the editors of this enlightening collection of essays acknowledge, this topic is typically discussed amid so many other concerns, and under such a wide range of different terminologies, that it can sometimes be far from obvious that a particular philosopher’s view in the area amount to. Stephen Click here to read the full review!
BOSH! Simple Recipes * Amazing Food * All Plants By Henry Firth & Ian Theasby Review by Christian Perring on Tue, Jan 8th 2019.
BOSH! is a vegan cookbook which avoids using the word "vegan" in its title or indeed anywhere on its cover, front or back. It is from the UK, and is written by the people behind Bosh.tv, an vegan cooking website and YouTube channel that also does not highlight the vegan word. The book has a heft to it at 288 pages, nearly half of which are attractive photos of the food. It is healthy and multicultural, with a Creamy Carbonara pasta dish, a Mushroom Pho Vietnamese soup, Burrito Samosas, a Falafel Bowl, Tom Yum Soop, Peri Peri Hasselback Potatoes, Maki Sushi Rolls, and Big Bad Nachos, for e Click here to read the full review!
This lovely book of recipes based on Middle Eastern food is impressive. The dishes it provides are relatively simple and the preparation is easy. Even for those who are familiar with food of one region may well discover dishes they had not heard of before. It will be fairly simple to find the ingredients so long as you have a well-stocked Asian or international market near you. There may be some exceptions -- I don't know how easy it is to find barberries, dried, lime, ras el hanout spice mix, or verjuice, I'm not sure where I would find pre-made vegan flaky pastry either. But most of the spic Click here to read the full review!
At 881 pages, this collection of new contributions on virtue ethics is a rich and timely addition to the recent resurgence of research in this fast-growing field. The seven-part volume addresses most of the key issues in virtue theory and is well divided for ease of investigation. The Oxford Handbook of Virtue (henceforth, The Handbook) is dived as follows: (I) Conceptualization of virtue (II) Historical and religious accounts (III) Contemporary virtue ethics and theories of virtue (IV) Central concepts and issues in virtue ethics and theories of virtue (V) Critical examinations Click here to read the full review!
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