Reading Targets – Summer’17

A lot of good books have been published recently, which demand attention and some commentary. Here are some which I mulled over and simply couldn’t ignore anymore:

  1. Terry Eagleton’s Materialism
  2. Derek Parfit’s On what matters: Vol III
  3. Roger Penrose’ Fashion, Faith, and Fantasy in the New Physics of the Universe
  4. Archie Brown’s The Myth of the Strong Leader: Political Leadership in the Modern Age
  5. Yuval Noah Harari’s Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow
  6. Daniel Dennett’s From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds
  7. Lawrence Krauss’s The Greatest Story Ever Told .. So Far
  8. Hugo Mercier’s & Dan Sperber’s The Enigma of Reason
  9. Todd E. Feinberg and Jon M. Mallatt’s The Ancient Origins of Consciousness
  10. Eric Kandel’s Reductionism in Art and Brain Science: Bridging the Two Cultures
  11. Priyamvada Natarajan’s Mapping the Heavens
  12. Sara Lewis’ Silent Sparks : The Wondrous World of Fireflies
  13. Peter Thiel  & Blake Masters’ Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future
  14. Nick Bostrom’s Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies

 

 

 

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Nature of Knowledge

Just finished reading  Word and Object by the eminent Philosopher Willard Van Orman Quine. It was published in 1960 and MIT press’s 2013 edition has a foreword by Patricia Churchland. Churchland’s foreword has a very interesting tone to it. Naturalizing epistemology was an obvious  (possibly even older problem in philosophy than I know of) aim for decades now but what it meant for Quine to criticize ‘conceptual analysis’ and go forward with writing this book and face the outburst of criticism was very admirable. Experimental psychology favors Quine’s understanding of Meaning. “Meanings do change”, writes Churchland, “..and that was precisely Quine’s point”.

Quine’s holistic view on scientific method and how language can be understood in terms of naturalistic world view is worth exploring. This book was his best contribution to date and a landmark event in the history of epistemology, according to many. His student, Daniel Dennett’s account of his own journey into Philosophy of Mind and what ‘Word and Object’ meant for him as a philosopher is very enlightening.

Next in the list to read are Plato at the Googleplex by Rebecca Goldstein and Ray Monk’s biography of Wittgenstein!

On immunity by Eula Biss, Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris and Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli are great reads. Daniel Dennett’s The Intentional Stance demands a separate post to justify its relevance in ‘Free Will’ and ‘Folk Psychology’ debate. So, meditations on that topic soon to follow.

Also, can’t wait for Roger Wagner and Andrew Briggs’ “The Penultimate Curiosity“. Soon to be published in April, I suppose.

Happy Reading!