Book Reviews

Reading List for November, 2020: A Brazilian Philosopher, an Assistant Pig Keeper, Some Consequential Ideas, and more…

Introdução ao Filosofar (Introduction to Philosophizing) by Berg A. Bornheim

Introduction to Philosophizing (in Portuguese, “Introdução ao Filosofar”) is a work by the late Brazilian philosopher Berg A. Bornheim. In it, he examines the origins of philosophical thought, not just as it was born in ancient Greece, but as it is born in the mind of every philosopher.

Boiled down to its essence, Bornheim’s thesis is that philosophical thought begins with admiration of the world around, which opens one up to critical thought about the universe. The great enemy is dogmatism, which can lead to nihilism. Interestingly enough, Bornheim refers to man’s elevation to philosophy (which he obviously sees as the highest form of intellectual existence) in overtly religious terms – it is a transformation of the “spirit”, and represents a “conversion” from the old patterns of life.
This was a very interesting read (unfortunately, unavailable in English), and provides yet another example of how people anxious to expel religion from human thought end up making a new religion.

This is not available on US Amazon, but here is the link from a Brazilian bookseller, should anybody be interested.

Ideas Have Consequences
by Richard M. Weaver

Ideas Have Consequences is one of the best books I have read in 2020, and I’ve read a LOT of good books in 2020. Weaver is writing in the late 1940s, and yet his observations ring as true as if they were written today.

Some of his cultural critiques will seem quaint to the modern reader – his laments about Jazz cause one to wonder what he would think of Hip Hop, for example. His description of the detrimental effects of Hollywood, newspapers, and the radio, make one curious as to what he would say about cable news, the Internet, and social media. And yet the philosophical framework behind his dated observations cannot easily be cast aside.
Immediately following World War Two, Weaver observed the beginning of the end of Western Civilization, and laid the blame at the ideas that had been percolating since the enlightenment or before.

There are books that I recommend, and there are books that should be required reading. Ideas Have Consequences falls squarely into the latter category.

Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy has long been on my “read this sometime” list. The Kindle versions recently went on sale, so I decided to make them a “read this year” project.

I’m glad I did. More philosophical, less allegorical than the Narnia series, Lewis still manages to tell a compelling story while making profound commentary on human nature and society as a whole.

The basic premise of this first book in the series is Man’s encounter with a society unblemished by the Fall. As can be expected with Lewis, his observations can bring discomfort and hope all at once.

Highly recommended reading.

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

With The Way of Kings I embarked on the final (so far) major series in Brandon Sanderson’s “Cosmere” universe. After reading a couple stand-alone books, it was good to get back into another series. And this is Sanderson at his best. Sizzling plot, in-depth character development, scintillating dialogue, and, as always with Sanderson, spectacular world-building.
I cannot wait to jump into the next book.

The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander

I heard some good things about the “Chronicles of Prydain” series by Lloyd Alexander, so I decided to read the first book, “The Book of Three” to my guys at lunch.
Unfortunately, it was not one of the more successful books we have read together. I would have to say that my guys just barely tolerated it. I myself found it hard to get into. The plot-line meanders and the characters seem one-dimensional.

It’s a nice story, but in no way did it make me want to invest in the next books of the series.

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