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I am glad you had

Post  AustenFan on Mon Jul 27, 2009 4:41 pm

a good time, Joe. Could you say a little more about some of the books you read? Smile
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Sorry about that...

Post  AustenFan on Mon Jul 27, 2009 4:42 pm

That was supposed to be a reply to your R&R post, Joe-not a new topic.
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Sure

Post  VicarJoe on Tue Jul 28, 2009 8:25 am

Experiments against Reality is a collection of essays about poets and philosophers and artists, people like Eliot and Auden and Nietzsche and Foucault. In it, Kimball analyzes the way that there is a utopian tendency to reject reality and try to insert some false experiment as a substitute. For writers who are committed to reality, like Eliot, their reputations tend to get tarnished because they strike critics as reactionary. He'll also note that someone like Foucault, who constantly goes on and on about how every human relation is a power struggle, about how every human institution is a form of domination, etc., is perhaps projecting his sexual practices. I don't know how much you've read of or heard of Foucault, but for me it was an eye opener to read that he was deeply into S&M and bondage and the like AND tended to read that particular sexual perversion as the universal form that human relations take.

On Enlightenment was a more broadly interesting book. Essentially, Stove analyzes the Enlightenment project and then more or less demolishes most of its cherished premises. To cite one example, he talks about the Enlightenment belief that all people are born equal so that any differences that they exhibit must be the result of nurture (and so that any social differences can be removed through education). He comments that not only is the idea obviously wrong, but it's ridiculous, as any parent of two children could tell you, since that mother or father can plainly see that children with exactly the same nurture have wildly different capacities, strengths and weaknesses. So what's so wondeful about Stove's book is that he punctures a lot of the more absurd elements of Enlightenment with the most basic common sense. (He was the one who dismantled Malthus by pointing out the essential falsity of Malthus' claim that any population would grow geometrically while food sources could only grow arithmetically by observing the obvious fact that everything we eat, be it meat or vegetable or fruit, IS a population.) Stove's the kind of writer who reminds you that sometimes you're not flummoxed by a counter-intuitive idea because you're lacking in brainpower, but rather because the idea itself is insane.

I can't recommend too highly Stove's book Darwinian Fairytales. Next up for me, Stove's Against the Idols of the Age.
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