Books & Bibliography
Jennifer Richards, ed. (Palgrave Macmillan: Dec 5, 2003), 240 pages.
This collection explores the concept of civility in the early modern period. It addresses a range of writings in English and Scottish — among them, conduct manuals, colonial tracts, diaries, letters, dialogues, poetry, drama, chronicles — by English, Welsh and Scots men and women in and about the Atlantic archipelago. It explores the many meanings of civility in the early modern period; it recovers some of the lost associations of civility as well as the complex use of the adjectives "civil" and "barbarous" in cultural and colonial encounters. ~ Product Description
Michael Martin and Ricki Monnier, eds. (Prometheus Books: December 1, 2003).
Since 1948, a growing number of scholars have been formulating and developing a series of arguments that the concept of God — as understood by the world's leading theologians and major religions — is logically contradictory, and therefore God not only does not exist but, more significantly, cannot exist. In short, God is impossible. This unique anthology collects for the first time most of the important published arguments for the impossibility of God. Included are selections by J.L. Mackie, Quentin Smith, Theodore Drange, Michael Martin, and many other distinguished scholars. The editors provide a valuable general introduction and helpful summaries of the cricual issues involved. ~ Product Description
John Angus Campbell and Stephen C. Meyer, eds. (Michigan State University Press: Dec 1, 2003), 554 pages.
There are two controversies surrounding neo-Darwinian evolution - one scientific about Darwin's theory itself and the merits of intelligent design theory, and a second over whether our education system should expose students to this controversy. "Darwinism, Design and Public Education" is a stellar volume that will prove to be of great influence and significance in the years ahead, as this debate continues and intensifies. This peer-reviewed book collects several excellent essays that were previously available in separate, difficult-to-find publications, as well as some entirely new scientific material. Leading proponents of design theory, from multiple disciplines, are represented, as are some of the leading critics of design theory. ~ Seth Cooper
Peter Lamarque and Stein Haugom Olsen, eds. (Wiley-Blackwell: Nov 3, 2003), 592 pages.
This anthology provides comprehensive coverage of the major contributions of analytic philosophy to aesthetics and the philosophy of art, from the earliest beginnings in the 1950’s to the present time: Traces the contributions of the analytic tradition to aesthetics and the philosophy of art, from the 1950’s to the present time. Designed as a comprehensive guide to the field, it presents the most often-cited papers that students and researchers encounter. Addresses a wide range of topics, including identifying art, ontology, intention and interpretation, values of art, aesthetic properties, fictionality, and the aesthetics of nature. Explores particular art forms, including pictorial art, literature, music, and the popular arts. ~ Book Description
Give War a Chance: Eyewitness Accounts of Mankind's Struggle Against Tyranny, Injustice, and Alcohol-Free Beer
PJ O'Rourke (Grove Press: Nov 1, 2003)
O'Rourke runs hilariously amok by tackling the death of Communism, sanctimonious liberals, and America's perennial bad guy Saddam Hussein in a series of classic dispatches from his coverage of the 1991 Gulf War. Here is our most mordant and unnervingly funny political satirist on: Kuwait City after the Gulf War: "It looked like all the worst rock bands in the world had stayed there at the same time." On Saddam Hussein, O'Rourke muses: "He's got chemical weapons filled with ... chemicals. Maybe he's got The Bomb. And missiles that can reach Riyadh, Tel Aviv, Spokane. Stock up on nonperishable foodstuffs. Grab those Diet Coke cans you were supposed to take to the recycling center and fill them up with home heating oil. Bury the Hummel figurines in the yard. We're all going to die. Details at eleven."
Jeffrey M. Schwartz and Sharon Begley (HarperCollins Publishers: October 2003), 432 pages.
A groundbreaking work of science that confirms, for the first time, the independent existence of the mind–and demonstrates the possibilities for human control over the workings of the brain. Conventional science has long held the position that 'the mind' is merely an illusion, a side effect of electrochemical activity in the physical brain. Now in paperback, Dr Jeffrey Schwartz and Sharon Begley's groundbreaking work, The Mind and the Brain, argues exactly the opposite: that the mind has a life of its own.Dr Schwartz, a leading researcher in brain dysfunctions, and Wall Street Journal science columnist Sharon Begley demonstrate that the human mind is an independent entity that can shape and control the functioning of the physical brain. Their work has its basis in our emerging understanding of adult neuroplasticity — the brain's ability to be rewired not just in childhood, but throughout life, a trait only recently established by neuroscientists. ~ Product Description
William Lane Craig (Crossway Books, Oct. 1, 2003)
Craig has outdone himself with this book. Much of his earlier writing contains the same concise logic and strong argumentation, but "Hard Questions, Real Answers" accomplishes this in language anyone can understand. Perhaps this is the book's greatest strength, it does not sacrifice intellectual reasoning and Craig's ability to analyze problems from a variety of perspectives, for popular approval. I mean, it is one thing to write on the relationship of God to Time or to defend the physical resurrection of Jesus; but it is another to tackle the most complex and volatile social issues from a standpoint that is both Christian and scholarly. Also, this book does not deal merely with 'Christian' problems. The chapters probe the depths of the modern human struggle. The chapter on failure is extremely poignant and insightful in its analysis of how one should react to and come back from personal disappointments and tragedies. ~ David J Davis
On the Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection Or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life
Charles Darwin (1859), 496 pages.
Published amid a firestorm of controversy in 1859, this is a book that changed the world. Reasoned and well-documented in its arguments, it offers coherent views of natural selection, adaptation, the struggle for existence, survival of the fittest, and other concepts that form the foundation of evolutionary theory. Read the full version at Google Books.
Jonathan L. Kvanvig (Cambridge University Press: August 2003), 232 pages.
Jonathan Kvanvig argues that epistemology cannot ignore the question of the value of knowledge. He also questions one of the most fundamental assumptions in epistemology, namely that knowledge is always more valuable than the value of its subparts.Taking Platos' Meno as a starting point of his discussion, Kvanvig tackles the different arguments about the value of knowledge and comes to the conclusion that knowledge is less valuable than generally assumed. Clearly written and well argued, the book will appeal to students and professionals in epistemology.
Steven Pinker (Penguin Group: August 2003), 528 pages.
In The Blank Slate, Steven Pinker, one of the world's leading experts on language and the mind, explores the idea of human nature and its moral, emotional, and political colorings. With characteristic wit, lucidity, and insight, Pinker argues that the dogma that the mind has no innate traits-a doctrine held by many intellectuals during the past century-denies our common humanity and our individual preferences, replaces objective analyses of social problems with feel-good slogans, and distorts our understanding of politics, violence, parenting, and the arts. Injecting calm and rationality into debates that are notorious for ax-grinding and mud-slinging, Pinker shows the importance of an honest acknowledgment of human nature based on science and common sense. ~ Product Description
Timothy O'Connor and David Robb, eds. (Taylor & Francis: Aug 2003), 596 pages.
A comprehensive anthology that draws together leading philosophers writing on the major topics within philosophy of mind. Robb and O'Connor have carefully chosen articles under the following headings: 1) Substance Dualism and Idealism 2) Materialism 3) Mind and Representation 4) Consciousness. Each section is prefaced by an introductory essay by the editors which guides the student gently into the topic in which leading philosophers are included. The book is highly accessible and user-friendly and provides a broad-ranging exploration of the subject. Ideal for any philosophy student, this book will prove essential reading for any philosophy of mind course. The readings are designed to complement John Heil's Philosophy of Mind:A Contemporary Introduction.
Robert Wuthnow (University of California Press: Jul 7, 2003), 319 pages.
Wuthnow and his associates interviewed 100 successful artists who are interested in spirituality, offering many of their stories in this topically organized book. Ceramicists, painters, dancers, sculptors, musicians and writers talked to interviewers about their spiritual journeys, their professional lives and the way the two have informed each other, often to the point of becoming indistinguishable. While each artist's story is unique, many common themes emerge: often dealing with family trauma, these artists were spiritually curious children who asked tough questions and emerged as adults who found solace through a series of spiritual practices, romantic relationships and artistic pursuits. Compelling in some respects, these biographies are unfortunately pervaded by narcissism. In particular, several of the artists Wuthnow features have lived nomadically with children in tow, often separating them from the other parent. Wuthnow anticipates that his subjects will be perceived as self-absorbed spiritual dabblers, and takes pains on several occasions to argue that they are not. He does a fine job of finding common themes in these narratives, particularly many interviewees' appreciation of mystery and ineffability, and admiringly calls artists the spiritual leaders of our time. Artistically minded readers will likely agree with this assertion, and discover in these pages a vibrant perspective on spirituality and the meaning of contemporary life.
Alexander Miller (Wiley, John & Sons: June 2003), 328 pages.
An Introduction to Contemporary Metaethics provides a highly readable critical overview of the main arguments and themes in twentieth-century and contemporary metaethics. It traces the development of contemporary debates in metaethics from their beginnings in the work of G. E. Moore up to the most recent arguments between naturalism and non-naturalism, cognitivism and non-cognitivism. • A highly readable critical overview of the main arguments and themes in twentieth century and contemporary metaethics. • Asks: Are there moral facts? Is there such a thing as moral truth? Is moral knowledge possible? • Traces the development of contemporary debates in metaethics from their beginnings in the work of G. E. Moore up to the most recent debates between naturalism and non-naturalism, cognitivism and noncognitivism. • Provides for the first time a critical survey of famous figures in twentieth century metaethics such as Moore, Ayer and Mackie together with in-depth discussions of contemporary philosophers such as Blackburn, Gibbard, Wright, Harman, Railton, Sturgeon, McDowell and Wiggins. ~ Product Description
Thomas More (Penguin Group: May 2003), 176 pages.
Sixteenth-century classic by English ecclesiastic and scholar envisioned a tolerant, patriarchal island kingdom free of private property, violence, bloodshed and vice. Forerunner of many later attempts. Since its publication in 1516, Utopia has provoked a hailstorm of debate. The minute details More ascribed to his "perfect world" make Utopia still a work of the future. • "There were utopias before this book that Thomas More wrote in the early 1500s, including Plato's Republic. This, however, is the book that gives us the word 'Utopia.' The book is brief, barely over 100 pages, and only 60-some describe the place itself. That is enough, and makes me nostalgic for the habit of writing briefly and to the point. It's easy to sum up More's heaven-on-earth in a few words. It portrays a communal, democratic society. It is paradoxically unregulated and tightly regulated — overwhelmingly, More's citizens just want to do what is best for their society, and that covers a remarkably narrow range of possibilities. There are, of course, some who break the laws of the land, and More deals with them harshly. "Harsh" is a relative term, though, and his punishments were hardly harsh in a day when it was a hanging offense to steal a loaf of bread for your starving family. It's also a strongly religious society. Religious tolerance is a matter of law, a novelty by the standards of More's day and the standard of his own behavior. 'Tolerance', however, meant tolerance of any monotheism that wasn't too animistic, and certainly didn't tolerate the unreligious. This translation from More's original Latin is modern and smoothly readable. Even so, I wonder how another translator would have handled some of More's neologistic names, like the unpleasant 'Venalians' who are the Utopians' neighbors. No answer is right, but other renderings may convey more and grate less. Those are quibbles, though. It's a good book as well as being a Great Book, and casts an interesting shadow into modern communism, theocracy, and ideas of the good life. I recommend it highly." ~ wiredweird at Amazon.com
F.F. Bruce (Eerdmans: May 1, 2003)
This book is a fantastic guide for any person, Christian or otherwise, who would like to understand the level of historical accuracy that can be found in the New Testament documents. In that Christianity is a religion whose truth claims are allegedly rooted in historical fact, it is key that the works through which we read of those "facts" be considered reliable. Bruce does a great job of doing just that. No historical account, regardless of reliability, can prove miraculous events. However, Bruce argues, if a work can be proven to be historically and culturally accurate with respect to most of its content, that document then becomes-on the whole-more compelling. Any historian would then need to take more seriously the author's questionable claims such as the miracles, and Christ as God and savior of humanity. For if an author can be shown to be reliable in all other aspects of his work, why should he lie with respect to the documentation of miracles? This line of reasoning, and many other arguments, make Bruce's short book a compelling read for anybody interested in this topic. ~ guy-72 at Amazon.com
Steven Pressfield (Grand Central: Apr 1, 2003), 192 pages.
Drawing on his many years' experience as a writer, Pressfield (The Legend of Bagger Vance) presents his first nonfiction work, which aims to inspire other writers, artists, musicians, or anyone else attempting to channel his or her creative energies. The focus is on combating resistance and living the destiny that Pressfield believes is gifted to each person by an all-powerful deity. While certainly of great value to frustrated writers struggling with writer's block, Pressfield's highly personal philosophy, soundly rooted in his own significant life challenges, has merit for anyone frustrated in fulfilling his or her life purpose. Successful photographer Ulrich (photography chair, Art Inst. of Boston; coeditor, The Visualization Manual) explores the creative impulse and presents an approach to developing creativity that, like Pressfield's, will be relevant to artists and others. He identifies and explains seven distinct stages of the creative process: discovery and encounter, passion and commitment, crisis and creative frustration, retreat and withdrawal, epiphany and insight, discipline and completion, and responsibility and release. He also develops his view of the three principles of the creative impulse, which include creative courage, being in the right place at the right time, and deepening connections with others. Rooted in Eastern philosophy, Ulrich's fully developed treatise nicely updates the solid works of Brewster Ghiselin (The Creative Process), Rollo May (The Courage To Create), and Julia Cameron (The Artist's Way). It also supplements Pressfield's inspirational thoughts on overcoming resistance through introspective questions and practical exercises that further elaborate the creative process. Both books are recommended for public libraries needing additional works on creativity. ~ Dale Farris
J. P. Moreland and William Lane Craig (InterVarsity Press: April 1, 2003), 500 pages.
What is real? What is truth? What can we know? What should we believe? What should we do and why? Is there a God? Can we know him? Do Christian doctrines make sense? Can we believe in God in the face of evil? These are fundamental questions that any thinking person wants answers to. These are questions that philosophy addresses. And the answers we give to these kinds of questions serve as the foundation stones for constructing any kind of worldview. In Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview, J. P. Moreland and William Lane Craig offer a comprehensive introduction to philosophy from a Christian perspective. In their broad sweep they seek to introduce readers to the principal subdisciplines of philosophy, including epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of science, ethics and philosophy of religion. They do so with characteristic clarity and incisiveness. Arguments are clearly presented, and rival theories are presented with fairness and accuracy. Philosophy, they contend, aids Christians in the tasks of apologetics, polemics and systematic theology. It reflects our having been made in the image of God, helps us to extend biblical teaching into areas not expressly addressed in Scripture, facilitates the spiritual discipline of study, enhances the boldness and self-image of the Christian community, and is requisite to the essential task of integrating faith and learning. Here is a lively and thorough introduction to philosophy for all who want to know reality. ~ Synopsis
John Locke (Hackett Publishing Company), 488 pages.
John Locke’s Second Treatise of Government (c. 1681) is perhaps the key founding liberal text. A Letter Concerning Toleration, written in 1685 (a year when a Catholic monarch came to the throne of England and Louis XVI unleashed a reign of terror against Protestants in France), is a classic defense of religious freedom. Yet many of Locke’s other writings — not least the Constitutions of Carolina, which he helped draft — are almost defiantly anti-liberal in outlook. This comprehensive collection brings together the main published works (excluding polemical attacks on other people’s views) with the most important surviving evidence from among Locke’s papers relating to his political philosophy. David Wootton’s wide-ranging and scholarly Introduction sets the writings in the context of their time, examines Locke’s developing ideas and unorthodox Christianity, and analyzes his main arguments. The result is the first fully rounded picture of Locke’s political thought in his own words. ~ Product Description
Paul Copan and Paul K. Moser, eds. (Routledge: March 2003), 308 pages.
This book is a collection of thirteen essays which, in one way or another, defend the thesis that a personal God exists. I disagree with the notion that these essays are "brand new" in that much of the material in several of the essays (e.g., Craig on the Kalam cosmological argument, Moreland on the argument from consciousness, and Collins on the teleological argument) has been published elsewhere, whether in books or academic philosophy journals. Thus, I think the description overly hypes the book. Moreover, given that an essay on aparticular topic will, pretty much necessarily, not approach the depth and rigor that a book-length treatment of a given topic would, there is a danger that a person who reads only these essays will be left with a more or less truncated picture of what a robust defense of theism on any particular front looks like. Again, the back cover statement that the book, "[aims] to offer comprehensive theistic replies to the traditional arguments against the existence of God..." seems a bit overblown. Nonetheless, this books makes an important contribution to the analytic philosophy of religion in at least two ways. First, it gives the reader a feel for what kinds of arguments for theism are currently being presented. Second, it benefits the non-expert in that it brings together under one cover a collection of material that would otherwise only be found by those already familiar with the relevant literature. Both of these are very good things, I think. ~ J. Wisdom at Amazon.com
R. Scott Smith (Ashgate Publishing, Limited: March 2003), 230 pages.
We live in a time of moral confusion: many believe there are no overarching moral norms and that we have lost an accepted body of moral knowledge. Alasdair MacIntyre addresses this problem in his restatement of Aristotelian and Thomistic virtue ethics; Stanley Hauerwas does so through his highly influential work in Christian ethics. Both recast virtue ethics in light of their interpretations of the later Wittgenstein's views of language. This book systematically assesses the underlying presuppositions of MacIntyre and Hauerwas, finding that their attempts to secure moral knowledge and restate virtue ethics, both philosophical and theological, fail. Scott Smith proposes alternative indications as to how we can secure moral knowledge, and how we should proceed in virtue ethics. ~ Product Description