Love: The Song of the Universe
Writing about something as vast as love is a daunting task, and errors of omission are likely—especially considering its scope as outlined in this book’s description. Writing a gift book makes the task more challenging as the book has be compact and include not only words but also illustrations. For this book, a double page serves as a section that can stand on its own, or as part of the entire work. The title describes which facet of love is covered in the two-page spread. One page provides a brief description and draws primarily from medieval Western history, and the other page contains appropriate black-and-white or gray-scale pictures that are also primarily culled from medieval Western sources. Given the space limitations dictated by gift books, the text may sometimes seem like random factoids forced together under a unifying theme. There are examples—both in the text and illustrations—that are drawn from non-Western sources, but these are scarce. An appendix at the end phonetically lists “I love you” in sixty-seven languages (however, the terms that are given as being different are so close as to be from the same language). Overall, this book would make an appropriate Valentine’s Day gift.
True Stories of the Philosophical Theater
In his first book, he calls a “nonfiction novel,” Yerucham narrates an engrossing intellectual and spiritual autobiographical novel. Written in a sparse journalistic style, True Stories is like Kerouac’s On the Road narrative, with the endless, repetitive, cyclical journeys, the episodes fragmentary and unresolved, but more learned and spiritual, like the structure of a Tibetan Mandala. Yerucham is a peripatetic soul, the wandering Jew, even ending up in Israel for a time. He studies western philosophy, gives it up; studies poetry with Ginsberg in New York, but decides to hit the road; visits and lives in a myriad of the spiritual places around the world for many years, a kind of crazed Lonely Planet-style traveler one encounters in India’s bottom budget lodges. With his depressions, breakdowns, horrible sicknesses, along the way, it’s only movement that alleviates these chronic physical and mental ailments. He’s autodidactic, much like the fictional Larry Durrell in Maugham’s Razor’s Edge, studying all cultures and taking whatever they might offer. In the end, like Larry (who finally drives a taxi), Yerucham, with new wife and daughter in tow, returns to the United States looking for a job.
Along the way, exploring the “philosophical theater,” we visit many places, meet many people, both locals and travelers, and perhaps discover, as the author hopes, “Deeper truths are often found in fiction than in fact, but when truths found in fiction are combined with strict veracity of narrative, the returns are doubled.”
As a mystic, Yerucham once renounced writing, but in a “return to western philosophy,” well earned, but now with “purer mind with holier motivations,” we have this book. This is no microwave package of Eat, Pray, Love, but more a gourmand‘s search, if not for enlightenment, at least, for peace of mind, for simplicity in the midst of complexity inside and outside. Recommended for readers who care about the people and the quests mentioned in this review.
Mind, Language, and Metaphilosophy: Early Philosophical Papers
Richard Rorty was one of the top American philosophers in the second half of the 20th Century, and now we get to read his early work, which help sets the foundation for his later work.
This collection brings together his early philosophical papers that were published in journals, and are just now being reprinted. With this collection students and teachers of philosophy will enjoy this work, and be able to explore one of the great thinkers of the 20th Century without having to search through old journals. The essays are presented in chronological order, from the earliest to the more recent. All of them focus on his early work. While Rorty himself felt these earlier writings were not up to par with his later, more seminal work, of which there are many large collections, it is an easily accessible introduction to modern 20th Century American philosophy. Like most modern philosophy the writing is highly technical; the average reader will be hard pressed to follow along. Even in its highly technical nature, this is still an important work and should not be ignored.
The Ancient Chinese Super State of Primary Societies: Taoist Philosophy for the 21st Century
Has the world shrunk? Airlines can get us to places quicker than a dog can get fleas. Phones and computers make connecting to our neighbors faster and more reliable. Even with advancements like this, society and culture, as shared ideals, lag behind. Even moving to a new state in this country has certain social aspects that take time to learn. This book, The Ancient Chinese Super State of Primary Societies, is a deep personal discussion about the ramifications of Old World philosophy and New World modernism. The book is composed of 14 different essays, all centering on the topic of Chinese and European societies. The point, I feel, is not only to help people understand and respect Chinese philosophies more, but to explain why these concepts are still valid in our modern world.
The book mainly consists of a compare and contrast of opinions that help prove You-Sheng Li’s theses. One part talks about how the Chinese were more of a land-based people and Europeans were more oceanic; therefore Europeans were the explorers. There are interesting little nuggets inside each essay and it’s a treat to read them all. Each essay is incredibly well cited, with notes and references listed at the end. It is always wonderful to see where a book gets its ideas. You-Sheng Li displays that he is one of the most certifiable person to write on this subject. With the writing style as direct as a surgeon, he is able to craft an engaging and thoughtful experience. The short essay also gives the book a quick and fun pace to the read. Each essay many be different, but each is as enjoyable as the next. With a wealth of information, this is one of the must-read books on this topic.
The Philosophy of History: Naturalism and Religion
Here’s a challenge for you- combine a lengthy discussion of philosophy, naturalism, and religion and come up with a means to effectively explain the basic tenets of historiographical research to those who are unfamiliar with any of these topics. No, wait- James Stroud has already done all of the work for us. Our mission, (should we decide to accept it)is to develop a better understanding of the interplay of these subjects by reading the book, The Philosphy of History: Naturalism and Religion: A Historiographical Approach to Origins.
Author James Stroud explains the differences between naturalism and science, and how the concept of miracles as referred to within the religious arena cannot be measured using scientific methodology, and also cannot be logically explained using traditional scientific methodology. Stroud observes that it is pre-suppositional beliefs that form the basis for many traditional scientific conclusions regarding human origins, rather than empirical evidence. Science rejects supernatural concepts and explanations yet cannot objectively disprove phenomena via the laws of science, Stroud maintains that “…any closed- philosophical paradigm that does not allow the inference to the best explanation should be abandoned or at least challenged…”
In discussing the philosophy of history, Stroud encourages the reader to consider the nature of historical evidence, in light of the fact that history cannot be repeated. The reader is encouraged to question the degree, to which objectivity is possible, the challenges to correctly determining the accuracy of past historical reports and current inability to verify the absolute truth, due to human philosophical bias.
Stroud contends that the theory of naturalism is untenable and confines one to “… a strict pre-suppositional interpretation of the data.” Ultimately, Stroud supports an “open philosophy of history” as a science, rejects the current “closed philosophies”, and believes that the theories of deism and theism are plausible explanations to be considered and supported as viable alternatives to philosophical naturalism.
In support of his argument, Stroud submits four historic events for consideration: Historic Event number one: Origins of the Universe and Cosmological Constants; Historic Event number two: Origin of Life- Cambrian Explosion and Human Origins; Historic Event number three: Origin of Civilization before the Common Era; Historic Event number four: The Common Era of the Historical Jesus.
Stroud also invites readers to consider such profound questions as the place of religion in history, the objective meaning of history and what drives that meaning, the proper unit of study of the human past, broad historic patterns, cycles and irregularities to be discerned and objective measures of historic progress. There is also a consideration of many of the ways in which western thought’s linear path opposes the mythical conception of history and time.
Those who seek a deeper understanding of the basis of theories of human origin will very much enjoy the insights provided within this book. The theories of great philosophers such as Hegel, Nietzsche, and Focault may not be the usual fare for novice philosophers, and one must certainly put a “thinking cap” on before settling into this most provocative read.
Medium7: Evidence of the Afterlife and Predictions
Mediumship: the very word evokes an immediate, gut-level response. Those who believe in the ability to communicate with the dead may proceed to shudder- or sigh. Those who do not believe may either grimace or laugh. Either way, the supernatural world plays its own role in our lives, and we can choose to embrace, ignore, or give the subject no credence at all. But kudos go to Donna Smith-Moncrieffe for her choice to investigate the subject matter in as close to a scientific manner as possible. Medium7 is a great book for the novice who has no real knowledge of the subject of life after death. Smith-Moncrieffe, in simple, easy to understand language, provides basic definitions, easy explanations and reasonable analogies as she explains difficult concepts.
Chapter One provides an overview of five key concepts that are prerequisites to understanding the afterlife. Those ideas validated by current scientific evidence are compared with those which are not. Are humans vibrational beings, made of energy, with a soul that can survive physical death? Is the physical world merely an illusion? Scientific research yields answers to these questions via such tools as quantum physics and mathematical equations, and many of us may be surprised by the facts.
Smith-Moncrieffe goes into great detail, explaining the differences between mental and physical mediumship. Would you like to know what mediumistic phenomena are? Perhaps you would like to be introduced to clairvoyance and her sisters, clairaudience, clairempathy, and clairsentience? Would you like to experience involuntary or automatic writing and drawing, and to hear prophetic utterances of spirit? This introduction to the field of mediumship may be just the right step toward that long journey of self-knowledge.
Here, in the more than three hundred pages of Medium7, is a great starting point, filled with brief histories of the subject including references to important names in the field, such as Edgar Cayce, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Deepak Chropa, Lisa Williams, and Elizabeth Kubler Ross.
Smith-Moncrieffe goes into detail regarding perceptions of the afterlife and the Christian Faith. Important questions may be posed, such as “If mediumship is considered by some a tool of the devil, then are all supernatural phenomena inherently evil? Do Satan and his angels impersonate dead loved ones in order to deceive the living? At death, do Christians “sleep until Jesus comes,” or when the body dies, are Christians immediately “at home with the Lord?”
There is the discussion in the ninth chapter entitled “So what?” Why should we care about the afterlife if it can’t make a difference in the here and now? That is a question that might be answered if we allow ourselves the time to read, think, and consider a point of view that may be foreign to us, but which may open the door to a dimension we’ve been unaware of for far too long.
Medium7 is written in favor of mediumship, and because such a fair (though very biased) argument is presented, even the harshest skeptic is encouraged to read this book– if they aren’t afraid…