THE METAPHYSICS OF STAR TREK

For those who like their philosophy with a twist, Ö la The Tao of Pooh, an intriguing though sometimes too constricted elucidation of some of Star Trek's deeper meanings. Perhaps because it is such a pop-culture icon, Star Trek (the original TV show, the sequels, the movies) has attracted legions of interpretations about everything from its deeper meanings to the reality (or lack thereof) of its science. Now Hanley, a philosopher at Central Michigan University, boldly and entertainingly goes where no philosopher has gone before. Though the show frequently grapples in its playful, inconsistent way with issues such as the fixity of identity, the limits of personhood, and the nature of time, Hanley is primarily concerned with employing it to illustrate his own theories on these topics. Using the Android Data, for example, as well as holograms and exocomps that appear in various episodes, he argues that ``the fairest test to determine whether or not an individual qualifies for personhood does not depend on its ability to pass for a human being.'' However, as a disciple of the analytic school of philosophy, Hanley isn't particularly interested in the really big questions (Why are we all here? What does it all mean?), questions Star Trek also tends to shun. He believes, instead, in a more narrowly focused approach that is ``continuous with the natural sciences.'' This leads to a certain aridity, a relentless reliance on logic that seems finally not only limiting but ultimately unconvincing. Like many philosophers, he is better at attacking those he disagrees with (he's particularly good at pointing out the show's philosophical contradictions) than building wholly credible positions of his own. Still, his ideas are spirited and provocative. It's to Hanley's credit that he's been able to mine so much from what after all is just clever, light entertainment. Philosophy 101 was never this much fun.

Pub Date: July 30, 1997

ISBN: 0-465-09124-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1997

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

Did you like this book?

DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more