A thorough treatment from an atheistic perspective, with numerous examples but few original hypotheses.

CHASING DAVIS

AN ATHEIST'S GUIDE TO MORALITY USING LOGIC AND SCIENCE

Luce sets out to explain why only science and logic are reliable guides for morality.

With his debut philosophical treatise, Luce enters the arena of the “new atheists”—Hitchens, Dawkins, Dennett, Harris and others. While those writers have tended to focus on a narrow theme within an atheistic framework, Luce tackles religion, morality, history, law, social convention, autobiography and more. He begins, like Hitchens in God Is Not Great (2007), by sharing his personal history of growing up in Davis, Calif., where he first felt “that to be at peace with oneself only required one be in harmony with whatever it was that was going on around one.” The author’s quest in his book is partly to regain that sense of peace as an adult, to “chase Davis.” It was also as a child that Luce first doubted the moral teachings of religion. In addition to explaining why he is an atheist, Luce provides a detailed review of what he sees to be the failings of traditional moral guideposts—religion, philosophy, government and law. He explores a wide array of issues within each of these areas and offers numerous examples for his propositions, which bolsters his argument that only science and logic are trustworthy guides. Luce adds a few original ideas to the “new atheism” debate, most notably the intriguing yet unproven conjecture that humans require a certain amount of space in order to get along and that violating this requirement has made the entire species “insane.” His critique of religion is wide-ranging but tends to treat religion merely as a set of premises. This approach has merit but ignores the complexity of how religion is practiced and experienced. Likewise, his critique of philosophy focuses on a few classic philosophers but ignores major atheist thinkers from Hume to Sartre, to whom his book is indebted. He also characterizes the views of philosophers as merely belief systems, a peculiar attack on the field that developed both logic and science.

A thorough treatment from an atheistic perspective, with numerous examples but few original hypotheses.

Pub Date: March 20, 2012

ISBN: 978-1469732312

Page Count: 694

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Sept. 5, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 22

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

THE ART OF SOLITUDE

A teacher and scholar of Buddhism offers a formally varied account of the available rewards of solitude.

“As Mother Ayahuasca takes me in her arms, I realize that last night I vomited up my attachment to Buddhism. In passing out, I died. In coming to, I was, so to speak, reborn. I no longer have to fight these battles, I repeat to myself. I am no longer a combatant in the dharma wars. It feels as if the course of my life has shifted onto another vector, like a train shunted off its familiar track onto a new trajectory.” Readers of Batchelor’s previous books (Secular Buddhism: Imagining the Dharma in an Uncertain World, 2017, etc.) will recognize in this passage the culmination of his decadeslong shift away from the religious commitments of Buddhism toward an ecumenical and homegrown philosophy of life. Writing in a variety of modes—memoir, history, collage, essay, biography, and meditation instruction—the author doesn’t argue for his approach to solitude as much as offer it for contemplation. Essentially, Batchelor implies that if you read what Buddha said here and what Montaigne said there, and if you consider something the author has noticed, and if you reflect on your own experience, you have the possibility to improve the quality of your life. For introspective readers, it’s easy to hear in this approach a direct response to Pascal’s claim that “all of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Batchelor wants to relieve us of this inability by offering his example of how to do just that. “Solitude is an art. Mental training is needed to refine and stabilize it,” he writes. “When you practice solitude, you dedicate yourself to the care of the soul.” Whatever a soul is, the author goes a long way toward soothing it.

A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-25093-0

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

more