THIS BOOK NEEDS NO TITLE: A Budget of Living Paradoxes by Raymond Smullyan

THIS BOOK NEEDS NO TITLE: A Budget of Living Paradoxes

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Something of an acquired taste is logician and magician Raymond Smullyan (Lehman College & CUNY). This collection of fables, dialogues, bits and pieces--whose subtitle paraphrases Augustus De Morgan's 19th-century collection--plays on words and beliefs, pointing up the self-contradictory elements that often lurk behind everyday utterances when pushed to their logical conclusions. So it is a little bit of Socrates and a lot of Zen conveyed in deceptively simple language. Some of it is funny: ""Are you sufficiently Buddhistic to object to killing a bug? . . . no. . . But the bug is!"" Some provocative: ""Can God Be Stubborn?"" plays on the idea that ""a being cannot predict what he will do if he refuses to do what he predicts,"" as a foil in a discussion on determinism. Some is satire: a long piece on a planet in which humor is an aberration and laughers are treated first with the drug ""laughazone"" (which prevents laughter by producing side effects of screaming and pain), and later with ""insincerezone"" because some ex-laughers were only simulating and hence had an ""insincerity psychosis."" Through it all Smullyan injects personal feelings and tastes which make him seem an amiable fellow, albeit ready with rapier logic to turn an argument inside out. The examples of Zen thinking are among the more interesting items in the book and possibly best characterize the kind of paradox of logic and enlightenment Smullyan himself aspires to. Curiously--or maybe not curiously--the book might appeal to both children and philosophers.

Pub Date: May 7th, 1980
ISBN: 0671628313
Publisher: Prentice-Hall