Current Reading

This blog is primarily for me to blog my responses to books that I'm reading. Sometimes I blog about other stuff too, though.

I'm currently reading The Demon in Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies by Polish philosopher Ryszard Legutko.

Word cloud

Word cloud

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Next book: The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker

My next book will be The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker.  He talks about human nature, its biological contributors, and why people deny it.  Since human ability is a constant concern of educators, this should be well worth reading.

Nietzsche: Eh.

I agree with much of his cynicism about human nature, but I want insight, I want to understand the origins of bad ideas more deeply, and I want to know the origin of GOOD ideas as well.  I agree with him that most people will never free their minds, but I freely choose to use my mind for some end that betters society, because I actually do believe in my endeavors, and in service.  I am not getting that from him 80 pages in.  I'm getting increasingly tedious prose.

The one point I really liked was when he noted that there are people who could free their minds but choose to follow the leveling impulse and pursue fuzzy egalitarian agendas.  I suppose I'm at a midpoint between him and them.  I'll never drink their kool-aid, but I do want to make things better.  I just want my eyes to be open as I do it, because I honestly believe that it will be better for other people, better for my sanity, and better for the bigger intellectual project that I actually care about.

The other point that I really liked, as noted in the previous post, was that all philosophies only contain what philosophers want them to contain.  I think the deeper point is that no idea can contain more than went into it.  This is something that I think about a lot in physics.  I still can't quite believe that the Hamilton-Jacobi equation, which gets us within an inch of quantum mechanics, is an inevitable consequence of Newtonian mechanics (with time reversibility made more explicit than Newton made it).  I need to think more deeply about this, and figure out where the hidden assumptions are.

So, auf wiedersehen, Herr Nietzsche.