Strictly for hard-core philosophy fans.

SOCIETY: PROGRESS AND FORCE

CRITERIA AND FIRST PRINCIPLES

Battler defines progress, provides its interpretations and considers a new way of measuring it in his sequel to an earlier work.

What is progress? It may seem a simple question—after all, isn’t today’s society more progressive than, say, the Middle Ages? The entire concept of “progress” depends upon the parameters used to describe it. For example, Karl Marx thought that progress could be measured by comparing socio-economic systems. If the people were freer in each succeeding system, he thought, then that’s progress. Battler (The 21st Century: The World Without Russia, 2004) rejects this premise and others in favor of linking the ideas of force and progress—not force as typically defined, as something to be wielded in conflict, but the force of collective change. Finally, he presents his theory of progress and momentum as a key contributor to humankind’s gradually increasing life expectancy. The guide comprises three sections. The first—a historical look at how great thinkers defined progress—is the most readable. In the second section, the author contrasts the forces created by humans and by nature. This section is the most inaccessible; it contains opaque concepts, theories and formulas intended for the dedicated philosophy scholar. The third section, about progress, force and other concepts, is slightly more reader-friendly. Although well-written, this is an extremely dense book and not meant, as the author himself points out, for the casual philosophy fan. To his credit, the author tries to make the book more readable by frequently explaining concepts and summarizing conclusions. Still, the text remains out of reach for most. It’s a pity. The ideas and theories presented here deserve greater exposure and debate.

Strictly for hard-core philosophy fans.    

Pub Date: March 2, 2013

ISBN: 978-1480008250

Page Count: 376

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2013

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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THE MYTH OF SISYPHUS

AND OTHER ESSAYS

This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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