Monday, May 31, 2004

Book Reports

Elegance by Kathleen Tessaro

This is a paperback book that I picked up in the Jacksonville Airport. Beth was going to be late and I needed something to read before she picked me up.

The premise is that Louise's life in London has not gone at all the way she had hoped. She finds a 1960's book Elegance by Madam Antoine Dariaux and begins living a new life based on the advice in the book.

I bought the novel because I own this book, or used to own it since I have not been able to find it. OBviously it did not change my life but I enjoyed reading about how women in Paris should dress.

The novel Elegance turned out to be a waste of time.

Wittgenstein's Poker:The Story of a Ten-Minute Argument Between Two Great Philosophers by David Edmonds and John Eidinow

Karl Popper and Ludwig Wittgenstein met only once in their lives. It was at a meeting of the Moral Science Club of Cambridge University on October 25, 1946.

These philosophers and the others there that night had devoted their lives to finding the truth, but later there was disagreement over the elementary question of what really happened during that ten minutes.

Did Wittgenstein harass Popper with a fireplace poker? Did Wittgenstein ask Popper to name a moral rule and Popper replied: Not to threaten visiting professors with pokers. Did Bertrand Russell, who was present, argue on the side of Popper?

I once took a course in philosophy and made an A or a B in it, but I understood very little in it. I remember that in idealism I am a little blip on an ocean; I rise up for a while and then settle back in the ocean. That meant nothing to me.

However, I did write a paper on Pragmatism in the Moral Philosophy of Cotton Mather. My professor asked to keep the paper because he thought it was so good and brought out new ideas on Mather. He wanted to think about it over the summer. I was stunned because I did not understand anything I had written. Probably the reason he liked it is that he had studied under Dewey at the University of Chicago.

In the book Wittgenstein's Poker there is a lot of talk about what is the essence of things. For example, a square has corners with right angles, regardless of our observation. However, it is only red because we look at it and see red. If you understand that, you are a better man than I am, Gunga Din.

I tend to be on Popper's side, but only because he once taught in the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand, as George Rodney once did.

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