Short philosophical writings that will only please those who already agree with the author’s conclusions.

TRUTH: THE GOLDEN HERESY

Debut author Nottrodt uses reason and logic to justify a very specific way of looking at the world.

According to the author, there was once a time when marriage was truly valued, responsibility was prized, streets were safer, men were the heads of their households, women were not “obliged to do double duty as mothers and wage-earners,” and tax rates were low. The sexual revolution in the 1960s, along with the popularization of moral relativism, changed all that, she says, and she asserts that things have continued to get worse. Hoping to rein in the immoral behavior that she sees throughout the world with principles of logic and reason, Nottrodt revisits her college ethics book, Man as Man by Jesuit priest Thomas J. Higgins, which emphasizes the idea of natural law: “It is the inward monitor that determines the right or wrong of human activities,” Nottrodt writes. She then works her way through classic philosophical and social quandaries, such as virtue, happiness, belief, and unbelief, drawing primarily from Higgins but also pulling quotes from William Shakespeare, Confucius, and classical Western philosophers to build logical arguments for her conservative or religious premises. The author then switches gears, sharing stories from a writing class. In these, she writes of her time skiing in Switzerland and her encounter with a wild animal in her home, and offers a short history lesson regarding the bells in Baltimore City Hall. These pieces are sweetly told but unlikely to gain more than mild reactions. Nottrodt’s ethics, however, are sure to infuriate some readers; progressives, for instance, may scoff at the book’s arguments for traditional family structures and gender roles, and assertions such as, “Socialism is a violation of natural rights.” But although the author’s conclusions do tend toward a specific conservative, Christian viewpoint, she does make real efforts to temper her ideas and present them as evenly and fairly as possible. Her early, detailed explanation of how syllogisms work, for instance, shows an admirable desire to share her passion for proper reasoning—but the subsequent arguments still won’t convince everyone.

Short philosophical writings that will only please those who already agree with the author’s conclusions.

Pub Date: May 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5127-8521-0

Page Count: 162

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2017

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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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