Posts Tagged ‘Philosophy’

How the mighty have fallen

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Long before humans began to keep records we’ve been doing philosophy. It’s very much a part of what makes us who we are. We question how things work, how we got here and where we fit in the universe. And now at the height of our powers and on the shoulders of so many giants is a website peddling skin care products with the limp tag line of “Believe in miracles”. Is that a mass rolling of bodies in graves I hear?

Reading List

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

Prior to 2005 I was reading mostly the kind of books that make the Whitcoulls Top 100 list along with the occasional classic by the likes of Dostoevsky, Hardy and others. And, of course, Iain [M] Banks whenever a new book came out.

In early 2005 a friend recommended Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything. It was this simple book that, to my great surprise, allowed me to clearly see the fact that my view of reality didn’t match what we can observe of the universe around us. Subconsciously I’d been aware of this fact but had managed to ignore it for 14 years or so. I decided that I would be better off with truth rather than a comforting fantasy and decided to investigate further. I watched a lot of documentaries, visited a lot of websites (and blogs) and talked with a lot of interesting people. I also read a lot of books – here are the ones that have influenced me the most over the last three years:

The Bible – Various Authors
The Mind of God – Paul Davies
A Brief History of Time – Stephen Hawking
E=mc2 – David Bodanis
Deep Simplicity – John Gribbin
Pale Blue Dot – Carl Sagan
The Selfish Gene – Richard Dawkins
Climbing Mount Improbable – Richard Dawkins
The Origin of Species – Charles Darwin
The Demon-Haunted World – Carl Sagan
The God Delusion – Richard Dawkins
Letter to a Christian Nation – Sam Harris
The Richness of Life – Stephen J Gould
The Creation – E O Wilson
The End of Faith – Sam Harris
Various Writings – Thomas Paine
Breaking the Spell – Daniel Dennett
Why People Believe Weird Things – Michael Shermer
God is not Great – Christopher Hitchens
Infidel – Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Freakonomics – Levitt & Dubner
The Blank Slate – Steven Pinker
Consciousness, An Introduction – Susan Blackmore

And I have the following books waiting to be read:

Guns, Germs and Steel – Jared Diamond
How The Mind Works – Steven Pinker
The Ancestor’s Tale – Richard Dawkins
Freedom Evolves – Daniel Dennett

I’m not sure where I’ll go to from here but I feel I’ve done the topics of religion, superstition and pseudoscience to death. Evolution, cosmology and the workings of the mind still fascinate me so I’ll probably carry on down that path for a while.