Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Society Without God - Phil Zuckerman(Review)

Phil Zuckerman, Professor of Sociology at Pitzer College

New York University Press. 

Phil Zuckerman does a good job in dismantling the common mis-perception that religion is essential for society. Focusing on Denmark and Sweden, two countries notably lacking in religious affiliation and influence, the author demonstrates how in these countries the lack of religiosity has not turned them into hell holes of depravity and chaos but rather are outstanding examples of peaceful societies where individuals can enjoy their environment without fear of being mugged or murdered.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Age of Empathy - Frans De Waal(Review)

If you are one of the great many who subscribes to the view that nature is red in tooth and claw, that humans are fundamentally and biologically selfish and only culture constrains our selfish impulses, please read this book. After you have done that, send a copy to your local politician! By golly they certainly need huge doses of the author's wisdom and insight.

In many of the developed nations the last 30 years has been marked by a distinct cultural shift towards a more Ayn Rand type view of human behavior. I have no idea why anyone would trust a philosopher to instruct them about human behavior, it is like asking a child to create quantum mechanics.

Frans De Waal, in the great tradition of Darwin and all good science, seeks to enlighten us as to the origins of our behavior by referencing not theories and intuitions, but observations tempered by a rigorous empiricism. The Age of Empathy is an outstanding piece of work.  

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Mankind Project: Modern Man Mythologised

Warning: this is a rant. If you like the idea of rediscovering your masculinity then don't bother reading on because you will be offended in every paragraph. Later on in this post I will attempt to give a dispassionate analysis that addresses the philosophical underpinnings of The Mankind Project.