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181. The Geneticist Who Played Hoops
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182. On Dialogue
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183. The Cambridge Companion to Arabic
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184. Truth and Predication : ,
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185. Tao of Leadership: Lao Tzu's Tao
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186. Routledge History of Philosophy:
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187. Causality : Models, Reasoning,
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188. Becoming a Critical Thinker: A
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189. The Next Fifty Years : Science
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190. How to Practice : The Way to a
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191. The Wabi-Sabi House : The Japanese
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192. Demon-Haunted World
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193. Philosophy for Dummies
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194. Qigong Empowerment: A Guide to
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195. Bushido: The Way of the Samurai
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196. Of Grammatology
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197. Looking At Philosophy: The Unbearable
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198. Logic for Lawyers : A Guide to
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199. Ethics for Life: A Text with Readings
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200. Political Analysis: Technique

181. The Geneticist Who Played Hoops with My DNA : . . . And Other Masterminds from the Frontiers of Biotech
by David E. Duncan
list price: $25.95
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Asin: 0060537388
Catlog: Book (2005-05-10)
Publisher: William Morrow
Sales Rank: 156898
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Book Description

Combining myth, biography,
and wit -- a highly original
depiction of cutting-edge
science -- told through the
scientists who are rewriting
life on earth

While the future of human existence is literally being forged by today's genetic scientists and biotechnology leaders, the media, policymakers, ethicists, and fellow scientists alike have not been adequately communicating the tremendous potential that is contained in these individuals' work. With the public only vaguely aware of what is really happening, a new coterie of geniuses, tinkerers, tycoons, and genetic soothsayers are -- for better or worse -- about to alter life on earth forever.

Now award-winning journalist David Ewing Duncan has written an insightful narrative about science and personality, delving into stem cell research, cloning, bioengineering, extending life span, and genetics by telling the stories of the characters at the fulcrum of the science. Calling to mind age-old stories and myths -- Prometheus, Faustus, Eve, and Frankenstein -- Duncan asks the question: Can we trust these scientists?

Duncan has spent the last three years reporting on and studying these masterminds, from the co-solver of the DNA structure James Watson to a man who is creating synthetic life, Craig Venter. The Geneticist Who Played Hoops with My DNA tells their stories, revealing their quirky, fascinating, and sometimes vaguely unsettling personas as a way to understand their science and the implications of their work.

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182. On Dialogue
by David Bohm, Lee Nichol
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Asin: 0415149126
Catlog: Book (1996-12-01)
Publisher: Brunner-Routledge
Sales Rank: 159179
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

"During the past few decades, modern technology, with radio, television, air travel and satellites has woven a network of communications which puts each part of the world into almost instant contact with all the other parts. Yet, in spite of this world-wide system of linkages, there is, at every moment, a general feeling that communication is breaking down everywhere, on an unparalleled scale."

The question of how we can communicate better is at the heart of On Dialogue. This revised and expanded edition is the most comprehensive documentation to date of best-selling author David Bohm's dialogical world view.
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Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars A very helpful book.
When you work with people, or as a matter of fact, when you live among people, as we all do, having some knowledge about how interactions work are essential. David Bohm's book On Dialoge is a very handy book on this topic.

In our world everything happens so fast, with modern technology, television, computers, air travel and sattelites. There is a network of communications which has influence on our everyday life. Just push a button and you are in contact with people from all over the world.

How we communicate is a question for all of us. And in On Dialogue David Bohm is helping us to at least find some answers.

The book enlightens topics as on communication, on dialogue, the nature of collective thoughts and many more. We read from the foreword: "Perhaps most importantly, dialogue explores the manner in witch thought is generated and sustained at the collective level."

Read this book, and you will learn alot about your own life, the life you are bond to live in interaction with people around you.

Britt Arnhild Lindland

4-0 out of 5 stars As usual a superb book.
Bohm has a certain style in his writing which makes him stand out from others who write on similar topics. One aspect is his willingness to suspend his own viewpoint, at least to some degree, by introducing his approach to communication on an intimate level. This does not mean the kind of intimacy between lovers but it is of the same kind. What does this mean ? It means that it is communication without the presence of walls/barriers which interfere with the ability of one person to give rise to the same meaning in the mind of the other. This is the essence of communication at its most basic. The 'normal' mode of cummunication which takes place between people nowadays is way short of this ideal. The social barriers and thought constructions which are firmly embedded in the mind of most induce various automatic or reflex reactions when questions or comments are made which are in some way outside of the "allowed" list. These reactions can vary from fear, the most common, to anger and eventually in extreme cases to violence. How do they arise ? Through purely reflex reactions generated from countless experiences which promote a protective response because of the "existence" of the self. I say existence in inverted commas because Bohm denies this has any reality. Bohm uses his dialogue mode of communication to let people face their thought reflexes and stay with them ie staying aware while their mind and body undergoes its automatic reactions. Only this allows the mind to go beyond these usually unconscious reactions and proceed into a place where creation can occur. This means the creations of new ideas rather than a fallback into the old ones. This form of communication is far from easy to undergo and reactions of fear would be common as would eventual anger and frustrations as the self attempts to dominate in some way by either trying to control the dialogue or hide from it. This is overcome by staying with the discomfort until it dissipates by itself.

Dialogue offers much more than the current ways of communication such as discussions or negotiations which never face the serious issues. Bohm stresses the pathless approach, ie one where no direct goal is provided and no leader selected. This has some similarity to tribal councils practised by native Americans for example.

In this book Bohm through examples and ideas develops this mode to something useful for all of society. Bohm always leaves room for ideas to be generated from his own beginnings. As usual a superb book.

4-0 out of 5 stars To experience a sense of dialogue read this book.
Author Bohm, David. Year (1996) Title On Dialogue, Publisher Routledge: New York, NY Pages 95 Comments On Dialogue provides the reader with the feeling of dialogue. The effect while reading is akin to the movement from alpha to beta brain waves. An aura develops around one's thinking and experience that is qualitatively different than usual. It has the feel of the deep night dialogues round the campfire. It engenders thinking on a different level. Read this book if you are interested in the story behind the story on dialogue as mentioned by Senge and if you are attracted to exploring ideas on thinking about thinking. Do not read this book if you are looking for a quick, easy, step by step requiring no egagement process for developing dialogue. The writing style is a flowing narrative. The complexity lies in the topic not in the language usage. Highligts: · A clear understanding of suspending assumptions. · Experiencing the mood of dialogue for self dialogue. · Dialogue means no purpose, no agenda, and not doing anything. · Thought is the problem- it's the ideas that matter. · The importance of observation of content and process. · The introduction to the concept of participatory thought. · The increased understanding of the concept of the implicate order ... Read more


183. The Cambridge Companion to Arabic Philosophy (Cambridge Companions to Philosophy)
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Asin: 052152069X
Catlog: Book (2005-01-17)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Sales Rank: 143053
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Book Description

Representing one of the great traditions of Western philosophy, philosophy written in Arabic and in the Islamic world was inspired by Greek philosophical works and the indigenous ideas of Islamic theology. This collection of essays, by some of the leading scholars in Arabic philosophy, provides an introduction to the field by way of chapters devoted to individual thinkers (such as al-Farabi, Avicenna and Averroes) or groups, especially during the 'classical' period from the ninth to the twelfth centuries. ... Read more


184. Truth and Predication : ,
by Donald Davidson
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Asin: 0674015258
Catlog: Book (2005-05-31)
Publisher: Belknap Press
Sales Rank: 44939
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Book Description

This brief book takes readers to the very heart of what it is that philosophy can do well. Completed shortly before Donald Davidson's death at 85, Truth and Predication brings full circle a journey moving from the insights of Plato and Aristotle to the problems of contemporary philosophy. In particular, Davidson, countering many of his contemporaries, argues that the concept of truth is not ambiguous, and that we need an effective theory of truth in order to live well.

Davidson begins by harking back to an early interest in the classics, and an even earlier engagement with the workings of grammar; in the pleasures of diagramming sentences in grade school, he locates his first glimpse into the mechanics of how we conduct the most important activities in our life--such as declaring love, asking directions, issuing orders, and telling stories. Davidson connects these essential questions with the most basic and yet hard to understand mysteries of language use--how we connect noun to verb. This is a problem that Plato and Aristotle wrestled with, and Davidson draws on their thinking to show how an understanding of linguistic behavior is critical to the formulating of a workable concept of truth.

Anchored in classical philosophy, Truth and Predication nonetheless makes telling use of the work of a great number of modern philosophers from Tarski and Dewey to Quine and Rorty.Representing the very best of Western thought, it reopens the most difficult and pressing of ancient philosophical problems, and reveals them to be very much of our day.

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185. Tao of Leadership: Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching Adapted for a New Age
by John Heider
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Asin: 0893340790
Catlog: Book (1984-11-01)
Publisher: Humanics Ltd Partners
Sales Rank: 40307
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The Tao of Leadership is an invaluable toolfor anyone in aposition of leadership. This book provides the most simple and clearadvice on how to be the very best kind of leader: be faithful, trustthe process, pay attention, and inspire others to become their ownleaders. Heider's book is a blend of practical insight and profoundwisdom, offering inspiration and advice.This book is used as aManagement/Leadership training text by many Fortune 500 corporations,including IBM, Mitsubishi, and Prudential. ... Read more

Reviews (12)

5-0 out of 5 stars Full of wisdom, interesting approach
In this book, Heider guides the reader down the long path to enlightened leadership. Leadership is not about manipulation or command and control, says Heider; the leader should at most be a catalyst for what the group should come up with themselves. Interesting stuff. The gold nuggets of wisdom that Heider gives in this book are reason enough to buy it, even if you are not a leader. It goes without saying that Taoism encompasses much more than mere leadership and I finished the book wanting to know more about Taoism. My one criticism of this book is that it is not for everybody. What Heider purports, essentially, is a very specific, idealised form of leadership (in real life, you have to learn to have a forceful presence, not just be wise and harmonious). But if this sounds like your type of book, then buy it, along with Max Depree's Leadership Is An Art.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent thoughts for reflection.
Each page gives you a lot to think about and to reflect upon.
Don't bother with this book if you want something to give you
the quick and dirty answer, this ain't it.

But, it will get you to stop and reflect upon yourself and your effect
upon the world and others. It will get you to find your own
answers if you slow down long enough to sense them.
This book is best a few pages at a time. It can get deep if you let it.

The thing that would make this book a 10 is if it were focused a little less
on "leadership". Maybe something like; The Tao of Life.

5-0 out of 5 stars Can't Lead Without It
I've used this book for over 10 years as my leadership support tool. As General Manager of a $200MM business, I need perspective and support on a daily basis - and Heider's book provides it. I love that the persective is NOT a management flavor of the week, but a view on leadership that stands the test of time.

I've given this book as a gift to peers, friends, and family for years - just purchased copies last week for my new staff. It provides us with a common framework and a vision of where we're taking our organization.

Thanks, Heider, for great thoughts, great lessons, and great leadership!

1-0 out of 5 stars Great Source, Bad Translation
I have read several translations of the Tao Te Ching and was very disappointed in this read. I feel as if much of the strengths from the original text are lost in this author?s choice of words and examples. This translation loses the beauty and appreciation of nature that the original texts focused on. (He refers to calculators and computers in some instances) I was also bothered by his addition of the Christian understanding of God as a character in his translations. Over all I really recommend finding a better translation than this to read if you are a first timer. (such as translation by Victor H. Mair) It is a bit more of a heavy read but caries over the interesting paradoxes that make the ancient document so intriguing.

Also read ?The wisdom of insecurity? By Allan Watts (a Beatnik) if you like the idea of Taoism

4-0 out of 5 stars Good
Important lessons for all leaders ... Read more


186. Routledge History of Philosophy: 10 Volume Set
list price: $315.00
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Asin: 0415315476
Catlog: Book (2003-05-01)
Publisher: Routledge
Sales Rank: 613639
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187. Causality : Models, Reasoning, and Inference
by Judea Pearl
list price: $43.00
our price: $27.09
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Asin: 0521773628
Catlog: Book (2000-03-13)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Sales Rank: 37252
Average Customer Review: 3.89 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Written by one of the pre-eminent researchers in the field, this book provides a comprehensive exposition of modern analysis of causation. It shows how causality has grown from a nebulous concept into a mathematical theory with significant applications in the fields of statistics, artificial intelligence, philosophy, cognitive science, and the health and social sciences. Pearl presents a unified account of the probabilistic, manipulative, counterfactual and structural approaches to causation, and devises simple mathematical tools for analyzing the relationships between causal connections, statistical associations, actions and observations. The book will open the way for including causal analysis in the standard curriculum of statistics, artifical intelligence, business, epidemiology, social science and economics. Students in these areas will find natural models, simple identification procedures, and precise mathematical definitions of causal concepts that traditional texts have tended to evade or make unduly complicated. This book will be of interest to professionals and students in a wide variety of fields. Anyone who wishes to elucidate meaningful relationships from data, predict effects of actions and policies, assess explanations of reported events, or form theories of causal understanding and causal speech will find this book stimulating and invaluable. ... Read more

Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Pioneering Book on Causality
This is a pioneering book dealing exhaustively with the subject of causation. Its contribution to the field of "Uncertainty in AI" is unmeasureable. It dealt with graphical models for reasoning in depth. For computer scientists looking for an encyclopedia of algorithms and applications on causation, there can not be a better book. I highly recommend this book for researchers in UAI. A word of caution: This is not a book for starters and those who do not have a well developed concept of uncertainty.

3-0 out of 5 stars A review of "Causality"
First off, the rating of three stars is relative to my expectations that this book would provide me with some insights in how to use graphical models for purposes of making inferences from statistical data and, in general, to facilitate the process of (machine) learning from data. And although Pearl and his colleagues have made great progress in this area, this book seems more targeted for researchers in areas outside of AI, such as economics, statistics, and medical research. Although the author gives a number of rigorous definitions to help support his notions of causality, the book is written in a somewhat abstract manner with few if any nontrivial examples (although enough trivial ones to satisfy a more general audience) to support the definitions and concepts. References to the literature are favored over mathematical proofs. Thus, aside from the references, I found this book of little use, but on the other hand, I do recommend it for its intended audience, for I do believe that graphical models can be of great use in these other areas.

Finally given the controversy and general misunderstanding about "causality", I wonder why Pearl would even use definitions like "causal model" and "...variable X is a causal influence of variable Y". His justification seems that researchers still think in terms of cause and effect, and thus it would serve them well if they had a mathematical foundation to fall back on.
Even if I did not have issue with some of the techniques and algorithms endorsed in this book, it would still seem much more appropriate to supply fresh, distinguished definitions (devoid of the "cause" word and its synonyms) and thus when future researchers use and make reference to Pearl's structural methods, they will call them as such and hopefully avoid confusion and controversy.

5-0 out of 5 stars A "Radically New perspective on Causation"
Choice (November 00) calls both Pearl's Causality (and Juarrero's Dynamics in Action, which Choice reviews together with Pearl), a "radically new perspective on causation and human behavior... Pearl critically reviews the major literature on causation, both in philosohy and in applied statistics in the social sciences. His formal models, nicely illustrated by practical examples, show the power of positing objectdively real causation connetions, counter to Hume's skepticism, which has dominated discussions of causality in both analytic philosophy and statistical analysis. Probabilities, Pearl argues, reflect subjective degrees of belief, whereas causal relations describe objective physical constraints. He reveals the role of substantive causes in statistical analyses in examples from medicine, economics, and policy decisions. "Both works are highly ambitious in rejecting traditional views. Although the arguments ar meticulous and represent intensive research, their criticisms of mainstream traditions are destined to arouse controversy... Juarrero and Pearl's books will greatly interest philosophers and scientists who are concerned with causality and the explanation of human behavior."

5-0 out of 5 stars The best and only on the topic
A great text, if for no other reason than the fact that it fills an important niche. Pearl does an excellent job of delineating causal models as both philosophical and statistical problems. I found the coverage of latent variable models particularly useful.

My only complaint is Pearl often makes assumptions without justifying them sufficiently. Usually, the assumptions made are reasonable or of negligible consequence, but at other times, the veracity of the assumptions is arguably core matter of the discussion. The net effect is a feeling of reading a brilliant, detailed exposition of what causal models imply observationally, undermined by doubts about the appropriateness of causality as a concept at all.

Overall, however, this a wonderful text that should be useful to anyone interested in causality or statistical modeling.

5-0 out of 5 stars Understanding causality poses no danger!
I take issue with the previous reviewer. Pearl does not assume that the modeller is able, a priori, to determine what the correct model is. Instead, Pearl asks what conclusions can be drawn if the modeller is able to substantiate only parts of the model. By systematically changing those parts, he then obtains a full picture of what modeling assumptions "must" be substantiated before causal inferences can be derived from nonexperimental data. An anslysis of assumptions is not a license to abuse them. ... Read more


188. Becoming a Critical Thinker: A User Friendly Manual (3rd Edition)
by Sherry Diestler
list price: $45.00
our price: $45.00
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Asin: 0130289221
Catlog: Book (2000-12-14)
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Sales Rank: 111011
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Arsenal For Attacking Flawed Presentations
A presentor is usually happy when people pose questions, as long as they are not critical questions. Most of the time the audience doesn't pose any questions because they simply don't know what questions to ask or how to formulate those questions.

The prinicipal points of this book:

Establishing the issue and the conclusion.
- Knowing and agreeing with the counterpart on the issue prevents us from veering off away from the subject of discussion. People like chaning the issue when they feel trapped.
- Listening to the person's conclusion about the mentioned issue which will indicate the person's opinion.

What are the reasons for their arguments on a certain suject?
- Reasoning takes many roads but often we don't know how to counter weak reasoning. Key words that give way to faulty reasoning with no substance to back up the argument.

Finding words that are ambiguous
- Counterparts discussing a subject, saying the same thing with several key words but some words have many meanings. Make sure you are talking about the same thing.

What are the value conflicts and assumptions?
- Value conflicts are explosive because of different political, religous and moral beliefs. A speaker who is devoutly religious will try and bring biblical arguments in to reasoning which for someobdy who is an athiest, would mean absolutely nothing.

How good is the evidence: Appeals to authority and testamonials.
- Probably one of the most abused factors in supporting an argument. How often have you heard, "Experts on the subject state 70% of medical doctors say x,y and z habits are great for your health". Don't forget to ask who the authority is. The more general authority and testamonials are the weaker the argument. The authors of many surveys make them biased. e.g. If scientific study has proven that smoking is good for your health and the author of the article is a lobbyist for the tobbaco industry, could it be possible that the author has something to gain from the study? If so ask what other authors or experts say about the subject. The so called industry specific gurus who give their testamonials are in most cases biased, because they have something to gain with the report.

Deceptive statistics are also factors that need to be examined closely. When a presentor starts talking about averages and percentages, ask which average and how large the sampeling was on people who took the survey. You would be surprised about how many presentors do not know anything about the facts they are presenting.

The author does not only wirte about critical thinking but has included many exercises to acitvate the reader to look for faulty reasoning and how to build up questions to counter evidence being presented. It is a great introduction text to critical thinking.

5-0 out of 5 stars If You Are Intimidated by Critical Thinking, Try This!
"Critical thinking" can seem like an intimidating task (and that is a shame, because the world would be such a better place if more people could learn to think critically!). My guess is that this book was written for people with just such fears, and so I am grateful it exists. There are very few books that can introduce a beginner to the thrill of critical thinking in a way seems fairly uncomplicated, and yet that fosters progressive competency. Just as the "user friendly" title implies, each chapter is easy to understand. Concepts are broken down into basic parts. Application of principles is invited through a wealth of interesting and brief articles within each chapter. The book's concepts can be assessed with relevant questions, and diverse exercises which incorporate various learning styles. I have utilized this text for community college instruction since the book's first edition. What I love about this book is that its simplicity allows me to readily pull in related information without disrupting the flow (so even for a teacher, the book is very user friendly, and able to accommodate creative explorations). Chapters need not be assigned in sequence in order for the book to work. Even the lay-out says to a potential student, "Come and try critical thinking; it is not scary, and you will soon become better at it than you think!" (Believe me, in contast, many critical thinking books are dense, and their lay-out can subtly add another layer of resistance for the beginning critical thinker.) Every semester with this text, students catch the thrill of thinking for themselves. They see real life applications within every chapter, and that is what hooks them. Student feedback often indicates that the class (with this text as its core) has "opened up the world." Yes, the book is an excellent launching point to a systematic way of exploration. This way, once begun, eventually leads to everything (since all knowledge is connected). I do not know what it would be like to use this book in isolation. I have used it only in a class, where critical thinking skills can be "tried out" in the context of group interactions. My guess is that practicing good thinking would be harder (and less fun) without this kind of dialogue and exchange. In saying this, I don't mean to discourage individuals from trying this book. However, if you have a chance to use this book at the same time as others are using it, that is what I would recommend.

3-0 out of 5 stars Maybe "user-friendly" makes it average...
It took my a while to read through the book... a sign of boring content... I would say the book is good for a beginner in this field, it provides many examples, which are easy to grasp, but which I found too basic for the more advanced reader... or which even constitute common sense.
It may be well suited to be covered in High School ... not much more to add (sorry).
While I haven't looked around, I am convinced there a better titles out there.

5-0 out of 5 stars Teaching Students to THINK!
I first utilized this excellent book in undergraduate classes about a year ago.I enjoyed using it and it received accolades from the students, (once they realized that sometimes, thinking is WORK!)

It is "user-friendly", and the segments in each chapter are short but concise. There are numerous exercises after each section so that the student can put to immediate use, their newly acquired knowledge.

But I believe the highest praise came from the students that jokingly complained, "I can't think the same way anymore!" They had become "Critical Thinkers". And we can certainly use all of those that we can get! ... Read more


189. The Next Fifty Years : Science in the First Half of the Twenty-first Century
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
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Asin: 0375713425
Catlog: Book (2002-05-14)
Publisher: Vintage
Sales Rank: 22989
Average Customer Review: 4.25 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

Scientists love to speculate about the direction research and technology will take us, and editor John Brockman has given a stellar panel free rein to imagine the future in The Next Fifty Years. From brain-swapping and the hunt for extraterrestrials to the genetic elimination of unhappiness and a new scientific morality, the ideas in this book are wild and thought-provoking. The list of scientists and thinkers who participate is impressive: Lee Smolin and Martin Rees on cosmology; Ian Stewart on mathematics; and Richard Dawkins and Paul Davies on the life sciences, just to name a few. Many of the authors remind readers that science has changed a lot since the blind optimism of the early 20th century, and they are unanimously aware of the potential consequences of the developments they describe. Fifty years is a long time in the information age, and these essays do a credible and entertaining job of guessing where we're going. --Therese Littleton ... Read more

Reviews (8)

4-0 out of 5 stars Quite an eclectic mix but came good in the end
When I started this book, my first reaction was - who are all these authors? I only recognised 20% of the names. Hardly had I thought this then the Introduction told me exactly who they were - very timely.

However, as I progressed through the book, there was quite a variance in the quality of the writing. Some authors, such as those on Cosmology, communicated well, but then others were far too high-level for a general audience. It was the latter chapters that brought me considerable delight & education when discussing the Mind, Psychology etc (not my favourite subjects I may add).

If all the contributors had tuned their work to the same general audience, then this would have deserved 5 stars; if it wasn't for the redeeming work by the psychologists & neuroscientists I'd have probably rated the book as 3 stars.

5-0 out of 5 stars Thinking about the next fifty years
John Brockman has brought together a group of thinkers to create an online think tank called the EDGE. In an attempt to overcome the great divide between literary intellectuals and scientists that C.P. Snow defined as the "Two Cultures", Brockman created the EDGE to be "The Third Culture".

The Next Fifty Years, is a collection of essays from some of the thinkers from the EDGE. They explore the next fifty years on different topics ranging from Csikszentmihalyi's engineered IQ and Dawkin's thoughts on the genome to colonization on Mars and the importance of Mathematics in the year 2050.

The essays were stimulating and I found this book to be well worth the effort to read. Any book that triggers new thoughts and ideas is one that I will treasure. As many of the scientists point out, trying to predict the future is a futile endeavor, but for me it gives a great insight into the present to see what these minds are pondering today. The ideas that might shape the next fifty years, might not turn out to be accurate, but the ideas and research that are happening today will effect us one way or another in the next 10 years. As humans we over estimate what can be achieved in year, but under estimate what can be achieved in a decade, and in general completely miss the mark when trying to estimate anything that exceeds those time lines. But I think Brockman chose fifty years, to give the thinkers some creative freedom.

If you are interested in science, and you are interested in what some of our best brains are mulling over at present, then you will enjoy this diverse collection of essays on the future.

3-0 out of 5 stars A fairly good overview
The making of predictions is necessary and important, for it can instill both optimism and caution. There is only a modest collection of predictions in this book, but they do give a fairly good representation of the different scientific fields and what to expect in these fields by the end of the fifth decade of the 21st century. Here is a brief summary and commentary of a few of them:

- "The Future of the Nature of the Universe" (Lee Smolin). The author predicts that quantum computing will become a reality in 50 years, as long as quantum mechanics remains true when extrapolated to macroscopic systems. COMMENT: Due to studies in decoherence and more honest interpretations of experiments testing the phenomenon of entanglement, quantum theory will instead be viewed in more "classical" terms in its formalism and foundations. Research into quantum computation, as understood presently, will fade from the scene.

- "Cosmological Challenges: Are We Alone, and Where?" (Martin Rees). The author is optimisitic about the SETI project and other attempts to detect the presence of life external to the Earth. COMMENT: Due to advances in solid state device physics, life on other planets will be detected via the by-products they put into their atmospheres. The information theory behind the SETI searches will become more refined also, increasing the probability of understanding a real message from another civilization.

- "Son of Moore's Law" (Richard Dawkins). The author predicts an exponential increase in DNA sequencing power, which he labels as the "Son of Moore's Law." The author also expresses a fear that there will still be theologians in 2050, this being done in the context of ethical debates on the genetic sequencing of "Lucy" and the possibility of the reintroduction of dinosaurs. COMMENT: The sequencing projects and the number of sequenced organisms will increase hyperexponentially. In addition, tens of thousands of new "transgenic" organisms will appear, all of them optimized to carry out certain biological functions. The field of horticulture will explode, with thousands of new species of ornamental plants appearing before 2050. The university will meet its demise by 2050, but theologians will not disappear. On the contrary, and perhaps unfortunately, the major religions will be with us for many centuries to come, and they will accompany humankind on their voyages to other worlds, for better or worse.


-"The Mathematics of 2050" (Ian Stewart). The author predicts major revolutions in mathematics, due partially to the increasing influence of the computer, bioinformatics, and financial engineering. He also predicts that the current split between "pure" and "applied" mathematics will end, with the result being just "mathematics". He mentions also the "Milennium Problems", one being the Riemann hypothesis, which he predicts will be solved by 2050, its solution being hinted at by considerations in physics. The P/NP problem will be proved undecidable, the Hodge conjecture will be disproved, the Birch/Swinnerton-Dyer conjecture will be proved, the Navier-Stokes equations will turn out not to have solutions in certain circumstances, the Yang-Mills mass gap problem will be settled but will be deemed irrelevant by physicists, and the Poincare conjecture will be "wide-open". Interestingly, the author is one of the few who have mentioned the role of "quantization of mathematics" via quantum algebra, quantum topology, and quantum number theory. COMMENT: The Poincare conjecture will be resolved by 2010 with its resolution being in the context of the "quantization of mathematics" mentioned by the author. In fact, the quantization of mathematics will be the driving force behind whole new areas of mathematics. Pure mathematics will continue to be viewed as disjoint from applied mathematics. In fact, there will be an intense effort, as evident from the last two meetings of the International Congress of Mathematicians, to keep pure and applied mathematics as separate disciplines. Mathematical finance will continue to explode and there will be intense competition between financial firms to develop highly sophisticated algorithms for financial prediction and portfolio manangement. Financial mathematics will also have more overlap with physics and meteorology, as energy and weather derivatives take on even more importance. The next fifty years will see the rise of financial firms, and others, managed, staffed, and run completely by intelligent machines. In addition, due to hardware advances and the development of highly sophisticated algorithms in mathematical biology and bioinformatics, the entire biosphere will be sequenced by 2050. Complete mathematical models of the entire human body will be developed by mathematicians working in the biotechnology industry, and drug discovery will be viewed as essentially mathematical, with the actual physical chemistry and manufacture being essentially automatic. In this same light, combinatorial chemistry will become a branch of mathematics in its own right, attracting the attention of hundreds of mathematicians. Advances in artificial intelligence will bring about, with indications by the year 2040, of intelligent machines able to construct original concepts and theories in pure mathematics. Skepticism as to the possibility of thinking machines will be alleviated because of these developments. "Artificial" mathematicians will begin to become competitive with "natural" ones by the year 2050. Further, cryptography will continue to explode as a field of mathematics, due to the increasing need for online security and individual privacy. Increased computer power will fuel this need, and the competition between encryption and de-encryption algorithms will become very intense. lastly, by 2050 it will be accurate to say that mathematics will enter into every phase of human and machine activity. There will be no process, no business transaction, no entertainment function, no leisurely activity, that will not depend predominantly on mathematical structures or algorithms.

5-0 out of 5 stars An exciting glimpse into the future
As Yogi Berra said, "It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future." However, if anyone can make meaningful predictions, it's the twenty-five leading scientists and authors whose essays grace The Next Fifty Years.

It's an exciting book. Almost every piece is enlightening, stimulating, and remarkably well written. I read a lot of books and articles about science, but still came across dozens of new ideas, convincing arguments and sparkling insights. Here are a few items that got me thinking:

Physicist Lee Smolin points out that subtle changes in light waves as they cross space may provide the first test of quantum theories of gravity--we won't need to build accelerators the size of the solar system to gain this information.

Evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller speculates that gene activation chips will soon allow researchers to map the changes in our brains caused by "every state of mind lasting more than a few hours." The result will be a far richer understanding of human consciousness.

Mathematician Steven Strogatz expects that new methods for creating complex, evolving systems on computers will mean that we humans will "end up as bystanders, unable to follow along with the machines we've built, flabbergasted by their startling conclusions."

Richard Dawkins predicts that by 2050 it will cost just a few hundred dollars to sequence one's own personal genome, computers will be able to simulate an organism's entire development from its genetic code, and scientists may even be able to reconstruct extinct animals a la Jurassic Park.

Computer scientist Rodney Brooks thinks wars may be fought over genetic engineering and artificial enhancements that have the potential to turn humans into "manipulable artifacts."

AI researcher Roger Schank foresees the end of schools, classrooms and teachers, to be replaced by an endless supply of virtual experiences and interactions.

In many cases, the bold ideas of one writer are challenged or balanced by another, making the book a kind of high-level dialogue. Cosmologist Martin Rees, for example, takes on Smolin's idea of evolving universes, and neurobiologist Robert Sapolsky is much less optimistic about our ability to conquer depression than is psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

It's not all perfection, however. A few of the essays seemed relatively uninspired. These included psychologist Paul Bloom's pessimistic view of our ability ever to understand consciousness or the nature of thought--"We might be like dogs trying to understand calculus." And I found computer scientist David Gelernter's essay on the grand "information beam" that will transform everyone's lives an unconvincing one-note techno-fix. Also the book really needs an index--that simple addition would have made it much more useful.

However, it's a book that tackles big questions about our future in as thoughtful, insightful and well informed a manner as I've ever encountered. It's worth reading and re-reading.

Robert Adler, author of Science Firsts: From the Creation of Science to the Science of Creation (Wiley, 2002).

2-0 out of 5 stars Why good scientists rarely make good futurists
A wonderful example across the sciences as to why people working in a field have excellent visibility over the next 5 years, and very poor visibility (or at least very unoriginal) when asked to speculate over longer time periods. For those of you familiar with the research of these people, their vision of the future looks extraordinary like the work they do, only extrapolated in ways that are obvious to those in the field. What I expected was the "creative destruction" by people of their own agendas. All the computer scientists (Brooks, Holland, Gelernter and Schank) disappointed in this regard. Richard Dawkins was the only intriguing one.

Just to calibrate the thought again. If you want to learn the views of some pretty good scientists on the larger backdrop of their research, this is a good book to read. However, other than the fact that they are working on what they are working on, there is no convincing argument as to why the world will turn out the way they envision. Not to mention, good scientists tend to be spectacularly wrong on long term visions (remember Lord Kelvin's claim about the end of chemistry a century ago).

I still look forward enthusiastically to a book with this same title, but a different cast of contributors. ... Read more


190. How to Practice : The Way to a Meaningful Life
by The Dalai Lama, Jeffrey Hopkins
list price: $20.00
our price: $14.00
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Asin: 0743427084
Catlog: Book (2002-01-01)
Publisher: Atria
Sales Rank: 6449
Average Customer Review: 4.61 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

As a primer on living the good life, few books compete with How toPractice, another profound offering from the exiled Tibetan Buddhist leaderHis Holiness the Dalai Lama. Westerners may be confused by the book's title,assuming that it focuses solely on Buddhist meditation and prayer techniques.Though it does address meditation and prayer, at its core this is a book thatdemonstrates how day-to-day living can be a spiritual practice. There are twoways to create happiness:

The first is external. By obtaining betterclothes, better shelter, and better friends we can find a certain measure ofhappiness and satisfaction. The second is through mental development, whichyields inner happiness. However, these two approaches are not equally viable.External happiness cannot last long without its counterpart.... However, if youhave peace of mind you can find happiness even under the most difficultcircumstances.
As he has in previous books (An Open Heart, The Art of Happiness), theDalai Lama reminds us that developing peace of mind means paying attention toour daily attitudes and choices as well as taking the time to meditate and beprayerful. The six-part book covers Buddhist meditation techniques andvisualization exercises as well as daily thoughts and actions that fostermorality and wisdom. --Gail Hudson ... Read more

Reviews (18)

5-0 out of 5 stars To Practice Peace and Kindness
This book by H.H. the Dalai Lama may be read by those wishing an introduction to Tibetan Buddhism and by those wishing to begin or develop their practice.

The Dalai Lama attempts to answer the basic question: "How can people be happy?" His answer outlines a path of spiritual growth and practice. Although based upon Tibetan Buddhism, there is wisdom in the book for anybody seeking spiritual growth, within or without any specific religious practice.

The book consists of six short sections. It begins with a brief discussion of the life of the Buddha which, as the Dalai Lama points out, encompasses the basic teachings of the Buddhist path: morality, concentrated meditation and wisdom. The Dalai Lama then explains the basis of each teaching in short chapters. It is good that the book gives its focus to moral practice -- curing anger, lust, hatred, and agression and wishing well to oneself and others.

Chapter III of the book discusses meditation practices and will introduce the beginner to the value of meditation and to several meditation techniques. The Dalai Lama stresses the need for consistent practice and for patience and for the need of controlling one's expectations.

There are several chapters which discuss the difficult but key Buddhist teaching of independent origination. Much of this material the Dalai Lama also covers in an earlier book called "The Meaning of Life."

There is a concluding section on Tantra, a uniquely Tibetan practice. I think it is better for the average person to remain with the practices of morality and concentration described earlier in the book.

Some of the unique features of this book are the Dalai Lama's anecdotes of his life in Tibet before the Chinese Invasion of 1950 and of his teachers. There is a substantial discussion of sexuality in the book and of how it may be used (and abused) in the search for peace and kindness. (pages 192-196) There is a translation of the Heart Sutra, a key Buddhist text with a commentary by the Dalai Lama. (159-163)

I found the Dalai Lama's concluding paragraph captures much of the tenor and the value of this book (page 223):

"Though my own knowledge is limited and my experience is also very poor, I have tried my best to help you understand the full breadth of the Buddha's teaching. Please implement whatever in these pages appears to be helpful. If you follow another religion, please adopt whatever might assist you. If you do not think it would be helpful, just leave it alone."

5-0 out of 5 stars A great deal of wisdom for people of all faiths
Many people choose not to read the books by his Holiness the Dalai Lama because they believe that this will offend or counter their own religious beliefs. Quite to the contrast, everybody can take the simple practices of this book to better their everyday lives.

One line in this book has stood out in the my mind. "You should realize that difficult present circumstances are entirely due to your own past undisciplined actions, so when you experience a difficult period, do you best to avoid behavior that will add to the burden later on." (p 38). This is just one example of the suggestions given to living a more fulfilling life. I believe that he is right in his suggestion that money and posessions will not make a person happy in life. Each of us must discover what gives meaning to our life. To find this is really not that difficult as His Holiness reveals where it lies.

This book is highly recommended for anybody seeking personal and spiritual growth.

5-0 out of 5 stars Nice Suggestions Within
H.H. the Dalai Lama is the worlds best known monk, without a doubt. In "How to Practice" he provides us with useful techniques and disciplines to train the mind. In it he will not only cover the basics for beginners, he also has translation and commentary of The Heart Sutra for us. Covering Tantra, and steps designed to develop one's concentration of mind, it's hard to name anything The Dalai Lama did NOT put in this book. For those interested in Tibetan Buddhism who are looking for a "step in the door", this book is probably your best bet.

Just to give you an idea of what is in this work, I would like to share an excerpt from the Introduction with you:

"I believe that the practice of compassion and love-a genuine sense of brotherhood and sisterhood-is the universal religion. It does not matter whether you are Buddhist or Christian, Moslem or Hindu, or whether you practice religion at all. What matters is your feeling of oneness with humankind."

This, for me, sums up what our practice is all about. Instead of focusing only on our differences, we should always strive toward finding common ground. To go further, this snip actually expresses how this book is really for anyone. The Dalai Lama doesn't make it a secret that he wrote this book for Buddhist practitioners, yet also points out it is really for anyone in pursuit of "happiness."

Truly, it's a good book. The further you read in, the more you get out. Please enjoy this book, it's a sure winner!

5-0 out of 5 stars An Owner's Manual for a Happy Life
I'm a newcomer to Buddhism, particularly the Tibetan kind, and this book is a terrific point of entry. In prose that is wonderfully clear, the Dalai Lama explains the fundamentals in theory and practice. Everything is concise, logical, and practical. Not everything is easy--particularly the part about having compassion for one's enemies--but it all makes complete sense. You also get a sense of the Dalai Lama's enormous warmth and wisdom, which inform every sentence. It's brief, clear, persuasive, user-friendly and useful.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not much different from other intros to Buddhism
Given the title of the book I wished to find practical advice. I did indeed find some, but they were not as detailed or as personal (Dalai Lama-specific) as I wanted them to be.

The book consists of six chapters. In the first his holiness describes what he considers steps to enlightenment, viz. via equipping oneself with sound morality, practicing meditation, and then cultivating wisdom. These three practices are explored independently in separate subsequent chapters, followed by a succinct chapter on Tantra, and a final chapter that summarizes what had already been written. The style of exposition takes form of annotations on fundamental Buddhism constructs. Conspicuously lacking were technical details on how to meditate, how to practice Tantra (for e.g. how to breathe, what is good posture).

What I enjoyed most were the brief anecdotes. Most of them had to do with how through observances over other practitioners his holiness gained insight. Other parts (the majority of the book) read much like any other introductory Buddhism text. ... Read more


191. The Wabi-Sabi House : The Japanese Art of Imperfect Beauty
by ROBYN GRIGGS LAWRENCE
list price: $25.00
our price: $16.50
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Asin: 1400050464
Catlog: Book (2004-11-23)
Publisher: Clarkson Potter
Sales Rank: 6715
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192. Demon-Haunted World
by CARL SAGAN, ANN DRUYAN
list price: $14.95
our price: $10.17
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345409469
Catlog: Book (1997-02-25)
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Sales Rank: 6993
Average Customer Review: 4.39 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

"A glorious book . . . A spirited defense of science . . . From the first page to the last, this book is a manifesto for clear thought."

 *Los Angeles Times

"POWERFUL . . . A stirring defense of informed rationality. . . Rich in surprising information and beautiful writing."

 *The Washington Post Book World

How can we make intelligent decisions about our increasingly technology-driven lives if we don't understand the difference between the myths of pseudoscience and the testable hypotheses of science? Pulitzer Prize-winning author and distinguished astronomer Carl Sagan argues that scientific thinking is critical not only to the pursuit of truth but to the very well-being of our democratic institutions.

Casting a wide net through history and culture, Sagan examines and authoritatively debunks such celebrated fallacies of the past as witchcraft, faith healing, demons, and UFOs. And yet, disturbingly, in today's so-called information age, pseudoscience is burgeoning with stories of alien abduction, channeling past lives, and communal hallucinations commanding growing attention and respect. As Sagan demonstrates with lucid eloquence, the siren song of unreason is not just a cultural wrong turn but a dangerous plunge into darkness that threatens our most basic freedoms.

"COMPELLING."

 *USA Today

"A clear vision of what good science means and why it makes a difference. . . . A testimonial to the power of science and a warning of the dangers of unrestrained credulity."

 *The Sciences

"PASSIONATE."

 *San Francisco Examiner-Chronicle

... Read more

Reviews (302)

5-0 out of 5 stars Sagan's Best Work
I haven't read all of Sagan's books but out of the ones I have read, this is the one I enjoyed the most. As in his other works, Sagan comes off sounding more like a friend telling a story than an intellectual teaching science. In a very concise manner he deals with many of the nonsensical beliefs that permeate our society, such as alien abductions, the so-called face on Mars, demonology, etc. He even spends a whole chapter using the fantastic invisible dragon analogy which basically states that although you may not be able to disprove my claim that there is an invisible dragon in my garage, this does not prove that it does exist. This is a principle that should be taught in every school in America. Not being able to disprove something, whether it be the existence of Superman, Santa Claus or any one of numerous gods, does not prove that they do indeed exist. What comes through most in this book is Sagan's wonder of nature and cosmology, and his desire that the scientific method be applied to all subjects so that truth may come forward and so that ancient myths and fairy tales can be dispelled. As is evidenced by other reviews on this page, this book will cause some people great discomfort as they find their childhood beliefs obliterated with such clear and concise reasoning. Although it's interesting that Sagan's character gets criticized more so than his actual work, it's not unusual to see such knee jerk reactions occur. I'm often baffled to find that those who attack Sagan on a personal level are the same people who hold murderers like Moses, King David, and the prophet Elisha in high regard.

5-0 out of 5 stars Life changing book
Many are turned off by science since they find it to be cold, desenchanting or even a bit nihilistic. With a clever sense of humor and easy-to read writting style, Sagan proves that science can be an awe-inspiring spiritual experience, when we are confronted with the immense complexity of nature and our universe. He reminds us how to be a good skeptic: one who is open minded to new information, but will only believe after receiving proof. (Which consists of much more than anecdotal evidence )As Sagan states "I believe that the extraordinary should be pursued. But extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." He urges everyone to think skeptically and to express our opinions while being respectfull of others' beliefs. Unfortunately those who would benefit from more skepticism are the ones less likely to pick up this book. It takes courage to abandon the comforts of an "all-loving" ever present god, immortality, and belief in psychic powers in exchange for the truth. However, Sagan shows us how science has greatly improved the quality of life throughout history, and how the systematic search for truth can be more rewarding than blinded-faith. We should be open minded("Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence") without being gullible. And we must remember how "wishfull thinking" does not make something true.

5-0 out of 5 stars Astronomer or Sociologist?
Although Carl Sagan made a prominent name for himself as an Astronomer in the 1970's, his final contribution to the academic world was a piece that was very Sociological in nature. The thesis of the book is that America's obsession with science fiction and popular myth has curtailed the growth of the United States as a scientifically literate society. As such, Sagan's final work is laudable as one of the most poignant and effective commentaries on the Zeitgeist of American society at the turn of the 21st century.

At the beginning of "Demon-haunted", Sagan comes across as a "killjoy", who is bitter about the seemingly innocuous pleasures that many Americans indulge themselves in (Star Trek, Atlantis, Crystal Power, etc.). He points out that at the time of the book's release, "Dumb and Dumber" was the number one movie in the box office. He also spins a wonderful anecdote about his cab driver who, upon finding out that Sagan is an Astronomer, tries to demonstrate upon Sagan his scientific "fluency" through his knowledge of "Atlantis". It all seems quite funny, until Sagan points out that the cab driver got quite frustrated when Sagan challenged his belief systems about the mythical island continent. With this wonderfully concrete example, Sagan renders the reader aware of how dangerous popular myths about science can be.

As the book progresses, Sagan continually points out that a little diversion can be a dangerous thing. He points out that Americans in the 1990's would rather spend a day watching the X-files than studying real stellar constellations; or reading tripe about Atlantis, as opposed to reading scientific books about continnetal plate shift. Eventually, the "candle in the dark" analogy is revealed as an analogy for science in America, where beliefs in the supernatural often publically usurp real scientific fact.

I think the thing that shocked me the most about this book was the fact that it wakes the reader up to the "dumbing down" of the American educational system, which Sagan implies, is a factor of the general American's willingness to believe just about anything that's entertaining.

Of the more forboding points that Sagan makes, there is one that he is rightfully salient about. This is that "pure science" (that is science in its abstract form) is becoming replaced by "profit-oriented" science. To back his argument, he points out that almost none of the technology that we enjoy today would have been discovered if it were not for the pursuit of pure science. For example, he points out that without abstract study of magnetism and electricity, things such as radio and television would not be here.

Like any good social theorist, Sagan ends this book with a series of solutions that could be enacted to further the pursuit of true science. First, he calls for a return to funding initiative for non-profit oriented scientific study. Second, he comments in passing that several opportunities are being missed by the educational system to teach children the priniples of true science by using the world around them as examples. For instance, at one point, he shows the applicability of basketball to physics. In sum, Sagan proves to be a brilliant Social Theorist.

5-0 out of 5 stars Review "Science hmm" from June 14, 2004 is really funny!
Firstly my take is that Carl Sagan was a brilliant man and a great author with an exceptional ability to concisely and clearly present rationality at its best.

The book, as many of the reviews have already stated, does a great job debunking many of the highly notorious fallacies in society whose foundations lie on "myths". Sagan does this by offering a skeptical approach based on pure rational and emphirical thinking. He does an even better job in conveying how society, and government specifically should operate based on informed rationality, and the "deamons" which haunt this world result when governments and people specifically (as civilizations / governments are merely a manifestation of its inhabitants) act in irrational and self-seeking ways.

Obviously this is an extremely complex and controversial subject matter; one whose essence no single book could ever truely cover effectively. That is why I think bringing up religion and faith in general detracts from his focus as I find faith is an alltogether different characteristic than irrational behavior. It may cause one to do irrational things, but it is because that person find solace in knowing what they are doing has higher purpose.

Proponents of the Truth, i.e. wisdom and the pursuit of wisdom, such as Plato and Socrates, have always treated religion and God separately, or stated that it was God's divine purpose for Man to be Just, which is an attribute that can only come from knowing the essence of a situation before acting.

And so if that aspect of Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World: Science As a Candle in the Dark annoys you, I recommend Plato's Republic (as an exceptional work for morality and the pursuit of truth and wisdom).

Other than that this is a great book that provides rational explanations for of some the most famed subjects of pseudoscience.

As an aside about skeptism (not about this book):
Some people see skeptisim as form of close-mindedness, and the writer of the review from June 14 "Science hmm" exemplifies that type of person. Obviously anyone can tell that person is speaking without any basis, and its a very funny post, but also the reason why this book needs to be read (I'm sure that person, if he even read Sagan's book at all, did it with ingrained preconceived notions of the "evils of science") This guy claims all of science is narrow minded and fascist (haha) but even many who aren't completely off their rocker, think skepticism is bad. The skeptic mindset is to only take facts at face value, and only believe when sufficient evidence is provided. This is the only way to promote a rational mindset. Those who think skeptics are narrow minded truely don't understand its purpose.

Skepticism is the best way to gain knowledge and wisdom, and prevents from deviating from that cause; which leads to fallacies about our reality such as all the myths Sagan debunks.

Going back to the poster of "Science hmm" who said that all science does is bring up "more and more unanswered questions"; although I agree that "science" that is, the pursuit of knowledge and truth, does bring up more unanswered questions, the only hope for us is in finally being able to answer some of the more fundamental ones.

To end this corny (and probably obvious arguement) with a quote:
"All our science, measured against reality, is primitive and childlike--and yet is the most precious thing we have." Albert Einstein

5-0 out of 5 stars A Candle in the Dark
Demons, UFO's, the Loch Ness Monster, Big Foot, fairies and the like are all investigated in this incredible non-fiction book by the late Carl Sagan. Pseudoscience, and those who perpetuate it, find their place in today's society among those who want to believe in the impossible. In fact, Sagan too admits that he would love to find life on other planets, among other things (he was, after all, an advocate of SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence). However, science today has not been able to prove that such things exist. As the book states, "the siren song of unreason is not just a cultural wrong but a dangerous plunge into darkness that threatens our most basic freedoms."

This book challenges the reader to critically scrutinize information professed by supposed experts, and be more of a skeptic. Sagan states early on in the book that "some 95 percent of Americans are scientifically illiterate." By using the scientific method combined with a little bit of logic and common sense, one should find that it is much more difficult to be mentally taken advantage of by pseudoscience "experts." Intelligent inquiry and analysis of information presented, and those presenting it, proves to be an invaluable tool.

Nonetheless, stories regarding crop circles, area 51, and other such nonsense still abound. Sagan runs through various examples and places them under the hypothetical microscope. Once examined more closely, most of these theories and fallacious postulations crumble quite easily. What some people don't realize, and what Sagan points out, is that things just as mysterious and awe-inspiring can be found all around us, and they are indeed factual and are being investigated by those in science fields. We need not look elsewhere to find mysticism and intrigue. People are still trying to completely understand viruses and the molecular building blocks in gas in space, and if people were equally as drawn to understand real phenomena as they are fallacious theories, then more people would be working to unravel the true mysteries that are much more worthy of our efforts.

I truly feel that this is a book everyone should read. Not only does Sagan do an excellent job of attempting to popularize science, but he also tries to teach people how to think for themselves rather than to be force-fed information from less-than-trustworthy sources. The demons in this demon haunted world are both those who perpetuate such celebrated fallacies, as well as those who believe them without question. Sagan attempts to teach, in this book, how to distinguish "real science from the cheap imitation." Indeed, he does just that. ... Read more


193. Philosophy for Dummies
by TomMorris
list price: $19.99
our price: $13.59
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0764551531
Catlog: Book (1999-09-03)
Publisher: For Dummies
Sales Rank: 73135
Average Customer Review: 3.28 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Philosophy at its best is an activity more than a body of knowledge. In an ancient sense, done right, it is a healing art. It’s intellectual self-defense. It’s a form of therapy. But it’s also much more. Philosophy is map-making for the soul, cartography for the human journey. It’s an important navigational tool for life that too many modern people try to do without.

Philosophy For Dummies is for anyone who has ever entertained a question about life and this world. In a conversational tone, the book's author – a modern-day scholar and lecturer – brings the greatest wisdom of the past into the challenges that we face now. This refreshingly different guide explains philosophical fundamentals and explores some of the strangest and deepest questions ever posed to human beings, such as

  • How do we know anything?
  • What does the word good mean?
  • Are we ever really free?
  • Do human beings have souls?
  • Is there life after death?
  • Is there a God?
  • Is happiness really possible in our world?

This book is chock full of all those questions you may have long wanted to think about and talk with someone about, but have never had the time or opportunity to tackle head on. Philosophy For Dummies invites you to discuss the issues you find in the guide, share perspectives, and compare thoughts and feelings with someone you respect. You'll find lots of material to mull over with your friends or spouse, including thoughts on

  • When to doubt, and when to doubt our doubts
  • The universal demand for evidence and proof
  • The four dimensions of human experience
  • Arguments for materialism
  • Fear of the process of dying
  • Prayers and small miracles
  • Moral justification for allowing evil

The ancient philosopher Socrates (fifth century, B.C.) thought that, when it comes to the Ultimate Questions, we all start off as dummies. But if we are humbly aware of how little we actually know, then we can really begin to learn. Philosophy For Dummies will put you on the path to wising up as you steer through the experience called life. ... Read more

Reviews (64)

5-0 out of 5 stars Best introductory Philosophy book i ever read
I have taken 15 units of Philosophy in college but this book easily gives me more input for thought than all the classes I took combined. It is written in a CLEAR, CONCISE, EASY to READ, and ENJOYABLE MANNER. Yet, it does this without watering down the discussion on important philosophical issues. I dare you to find a better introductory philosophy book than this one!

I don't see the point of those who criticize Mr. Morris for having biases. On the contrary, I think he has presented both sides fairly. Anyway, if you don't agree with his philosophical conclusions, you could always reject it with your own counter-arguement. Isn't this is what philosophy is all about? Philosophy is a process! A good philosophy book challenges you and this book definitely does.

I just wished he could have been one of my philosophy professors 7 years ago. It would have made my studies much easier. It is no wonder that he is the most popular professor and his class has the most enrolled students in his university.

Buy the book!

5-0 out of 5 stars The Best Intro. To Philosophy on the Market
As a philosophy professor, I have seen and used many introductory philosophy texts. "Philosophy for Dummies" is the best text that I have ever seen. It is clearly written. It is extremely accessible to anyone with an interest in the issues. It values critical thinking skills, such as argumentation and analysis. It is sympathetic to many commonsensical views. It is funny (a rarity among philosophy texts). It is entertaining: there are cartoons, quotations, and anecdotes, all of which facilitate the understanding and appreciation of very deep and important issues in epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, and aesthetics.

Throughout the book, Morris defends and shows the interconnectedness of many Judeo-Christian positions (e.g. God's existence, the existence of souls, there is a meaning to life -- Morris even tells you what the meaning of life is). I particularly enjoyed one of the last chapters in which there is compelling defense of "Pascal's Wager" -- that is, an argument for why it is rational to be a theist. Before reading the book, I considered myself to be an atheist, and after reading it, I no longer know what I am.

"Philosophy for Dummies" will certainly help you understand why doing philosphy is essential to how you live your life. Morris discusses and agrees with Socrates famous dictum that "An unexamined life is not worth living." After you read his book, you will feel the same way.

5-0 out of 5 stars A great book!
Tom Morris has given us an outstanding introduction into great philosophy. Most major topics of concern in life are covered. Now, I must point out that Tom Morris has two Ph.D.s, from Yale. One of them is in philosophy, and the other is in theology. One of the first things this book does is debunk relativism, moral and otherwise. In this book Morris discusses the proofs for the existence of God, the major theodices surrounding the explanation of the problem of evil, and the major thinking around the nature of God.

I was lucky to have a thoroughly Catholic education, the sort of Catholic education you rarely get in Catholic schools these days, and none of Morris' thinking was new to me. This stuff was in my blood by the time I graduated high school. If you are an atheist, you may not like this book. If you are a relativist, or a nihilist you will probably not like this book. Morris is not out to handhold liberals and nut-jobs by giving bad philosophy equal time with scholasticism.

If you want a great, and sane, introduction to the philosophy that gave birth to the West, i.e. the theistic philosophy of our greatest minds, like Aquinas, then this book is for you. If you are out to take a bath in the tepid waters of relativism and postmodernism, you had best look elsewhere.

2-0 out of 5 stars Uneven coverage, pop psych pull quality down
I worked my way through Morris' book from cover to cover. While there were pieces of the first section that left me scratching my head (feeling like something was being left out, connections weren't being made), I mostly enjoyed the first half of the book. It was interesting to explore the various ideas and questions that Morris put forth, and they were put forth in an engaging and thoughtful way.

However, the second half lacks the engagement and thoughtfulness. On the contrary, Morris seems to believe that we can only be "happy" and "successful" if we buy into his own beliefs, and those are aligned with a theism that is not presented in a convincing way. Why did he feel that he had to present theism as the only valid conclusion by always giving it the last word? I know that there are philosophers who have compelling arguments to many of his beliefs, but the tone of his writing is to debunk them and convert us to his philosophical position. Of course there will always be bias, but coverage should have been much more equal.

Near the end of the book he degenerates completely into pop psychology, filling the pages with platitudes that are almost unbearable to read. They seem to be taken directly from the corporate speaking engagements that he is certainly paid a lot of money for. Telling us to set attainable goals and stick to them is an embarrassment and doesn't belong in a book of philosophical thought.

I give the book some credit because the first half is fairly well done. I would not suggest to anyone that they buy the book though. The second half is without merit.

1-0 out of 5 stars philosophy is not therapy
I loved the editorial description at the beginning of the entry for this book: "Philosophy ... [is therapy]" Well, if you think philosophy is therapy, you should buy this book, because you'll have things laid out for you and you won't have to doubt that you're right any more.

Philosophy is not therapy. It is not about "the meaning of life?" because that is an incoherent question.

What should philosophy be, then?

Philosophy should be an especially painful form of argumentation. This is because it helps us realize that the linguistic categories (I mean this intensionally) we've created do not pertain to the world outside our minds. We may be able to use them to delimit set of objects but they may do so inconsistently. (All of the descriptors we may use in reference to a certain object or phenomenon cannot be true at the same time.) Philosophy is a game that plays with these categories to try to deduce properties about them from the ignorance that lies at their root: there are no first principles, there is only the hope that a consistent system might be created from which an inconsistency cannot be produced. But philosophy need not have such grand ambitions- a decent paper need only to chip away at the foundation of misconception or ambiguity of a system or proposition suggested before to be worthwhile.

Philosophy is a very exhilirating activity but it requires slightly more effort than this book demands as well as a more unbiased guide. ... Read more


194. Qigong Empowerment: A Guide to Medical, Taoist, Buddhist, Wushu Energy Cultivation
by Shou-Yu Liang, Wen-Ching Wu
list price: $34.95
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Asin: 1889659029
Catlog: Book (1996-12-01)
Publisher: Way of the Dragon, Limited, the
Sales Rank: 31811
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Qigong Empowerment is the most unique and complete volume ever written in the English language on Qigong (Chi Kung), the attainment of energy. It is a volume that you can refer to over and over again for all your energy studies. This book includes all the major energy training schools in ancient China:1. Medical Qigong theories and training methods to strengthen the organs and to rejuvenate overall health. 2. Taoist Qigong cultivation and training outline, from the basic to the most profound methods, to foster Essence, Qi, and Spirit. 3. Buddhist Qigong empowering methods to develop the Esoteric Abilities of the Body, Speech, and Mind. 4. Emitting, Absorbing, and Healing Qigong to develop your healing ability. 5. Wushu (martial arts) Iron Shirt, Iron Palm, Iron Fist Qigong for developing your ultimate physical potential. ... Read more

Reviews (20)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Fine Assortment of Qigong Practices
Whether one is interested in qigong for health, healing, or self-defense, this is the book to have. Separated into five sections, Qigong Empowerment runs the spectrum of internal arts practices. The taijiquan practitioner finds information on Taoist practices. The "hard-style" practitioner finds plenty of training approaches. Those not interested in martial arts but interested in Asian energy healing practices will not be disappointed. Expensive for a paperback, but well worth it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Tremendous Effort
Combining a good deal of theory with a tremendous amount of well explained, useful qigong exercises is what makes this book the single most valuable book on qigong available. The authors cover in five separate chapters, the essential theory and practice of five major schools of qigong: Medical, Taoist, Buddhist, Healing, Wu-Shu.The section on Medical qigong covers Qi Permeation technique, various techniques for each of the six organ systems in the body, and the six healing sounds.The section on Taoist Qigong covers three levels of the Taoist system, including the Microcosmic orbit. Everything is presented sequentially to ensure safety. The final steps aren't presented with detailed instructions as they require, according to the authors, supervision.Buddhist Qigong includes Nine Segment breathing, Precious Vessel, Spiritual Flame, Great Perfection, Protective Qigong, and the Nine Esoteric Seals.The section on healing qigong is tremendous. Numerous methods of building, emitting, absorbing qi are given. Also discussed are various abilties related to scanning, auras, and protecting yourself from bad energy.The wu-shu qigong section was somewhat dissapointing. Most of it seemed very external. Still, many exercises are given.The only real downside to the book is that it is sometimes hard to follow based on the layout of chapter and subchapter headings, but a close reading will clarify any problems.Also, I would have liked some information about how to combine the routines into a daily practice.This book is not as detailed on theory as Yang Jwing Mings Root of Chinese Chi-Kung, but contains more actual routines. The two books complement each other well.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Most Complete Book on Qigong
Quite simply, this book covers more aspects and types of Qigong than any other book available to the english speaking public. I am a practitioner of the huge Universal Tao System and this one of the only books that that is up to par with Sifu Mantak Chia's books. Furthermore, it uncovers very, very secret practices from the Taoist Internal Alchemy, Chinese and Tibetan Tantrism, Shaolin Secret Arts and even Dzogchen(!) many of which have never been publicly published before. Some of these practices are so secret most practitioners have either: never heard of them or had concluded they had been lost. Yet, Sifu Shou-yu Liang and Sifu Wen-ching Wu have found it in their hearts to share these profound practices with the rest of the world. They are both incredible masters in their own right, not to mention winning numerous qigong and martial arts awards under their belt. Their schools are well known and respected worldwide.
Really, Qigong Empowerment is set of 5 books. After reading the introduction you will then be able to choose which books you want to read. If you are feeling unhealthy you might go to the Medical Qigong Book; if you practice a style of martial arts you may go to the Martial Qigong Book. All five books are really amazing though.
Each practice is outlined in a very logical and practical manner and really pretty easy to understand. There is also a healthy amount of philosophical explanation and theory. So even the teaching method is complete here: they give WHO founded the particular technique and how it was passed down, WHAT it is in clear explanation, WHERE it is from exactly, and HOW it should be done along with safety tips, and to top it off, WHY you would want to practice such a technique with some examples of the benefits.
If your new to Qigong start here. It will give you the proper understanding of Qigong far from those videos at whole foods with some guy waving his arms around. This is real Qigong which involves leading the Qi with the Yi (heart/mind intent) It will also give you thorough understanding of each of the most common Qigong schools.
If you already experienced in Qigong or any type of Martial Arts -- buy this book right now and prepare yourself to experience some of the most amazing abilities humans are capable of. The title says it all: Qigong Empowerment!

5-0 out of 5 stars More bang for your buck
Very well written book.
This book ranks up with Yang Jwing-ming's books on taijiquan and qigong, as to form practice and mind stillness.
This book is definately a must read, as the author has also spent years on it.

There are some things that don't seem right like the "spritual flame technique". Now this technique heats up the body.
Unfortunately the bones are very yin, and heat can damage them. It is my understanding that you must use cooler yin energy to protect your bones, and other yin parts of the body.
Not necessarily something you want to do early in training.


There is also the 'bone marrow to qi' technique. Sorry, I spent too many years packing qi into my bone marrow (or more appropriately circulating it within). Without qi, bonemarrow becomes fatty.
Now even though I disagree with some of it, there is still a wealth of information contained in these books.
Studing does not hurt and separates the wheat from the chaff.

With qigong, once again, you must practice regularly to maintain, otherwise you lose it.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good
This is a good book. It covers many aspects of Chi Gung. Sometimes it lacks some depths, though. ... Read more


195. Bushido: The Way of the Samurai (Square One Classics)
by Tsunetomo Yamamoto, Justin F. Stone, Minoru Tanaka
list price: $9.95
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Asin: 0757000266
Catlog: Book (2001-10-01)
Publisher: Square One Publishers
Sales Rank: 3799
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars If you want to know the world of the samurai
This is a quick read and very informative.

5-0 out of 5 stars A look into the warrior's mind
This book was written at the very start of the 19th century, by a samurai in retirement. It gives a unique look back to the late 18th, when Yamamoto was active as a samurai. The view is unique, in part, because Japan was unifying and there was less need for each minor lord to have an armed class. The warrior ethic was changing as war became less common. In part, these notes seem to mourn the passing of the clearest, purest form of that ethic.

The warrior ethic only changed, though and still underlies many aspects of modern Japanese thought and policy. The feudal caste system still gives a fair decription of different levels of management.

This book is not just about a time and a culture different from that in the modern West. It teaches personal responsibility, a lesson that many too many people still need. In part, this means responsibility to one's self, in maintaining professional skills and personal credibility. It also means responsibility towards one's employer. I do not feel crass in saying that, by accepting the pay that feeds and houses me, I have a duty to return the value given. Self interest, if not personal honor, should encourage me to support my employer well enough to keep supporting me and to support me better in the future.

I was also interested to see that a strict code of honor can include a strictly preserved set of personal freedoms. Yamamoto stresses the need to tolerate a few flaws in order to use a person's strengths. He also notes that samurai - or, I think, any professionals - can be effective only when free to make decisions on their own. This is not insubordination, quite the opposite. The skilled employee must be able to make decisions based on that skill. Too tight a managerial rein just strangles the professional's effectiveness.

I was surprised (but perhaps should not have been) that this book describes the modern professional so well. Yamamoto's advice is right in line with my own business experience. I think that more of today's skilled workers, and their managers, would be more effective if they applied this book in their lives.

It was also surprising, but satisfying, to read Yamamoto's most secret advice: to do what you love most. I certainly see why this maxim must be held back. This advice can only enrich a person who is already so trained that their loves are honorable, loyal, and productive. Keeping with Yamamoto's Zen spirit, though, I would say that such people do not need that inner secret. Today, as then, such people already follow what they love.

5-0 out of 5 stars Creating Super-men...
The Hagakure was dictated by Yamamoto and later scribed verbatim by Tsuramoto Tashiro over a period of seven years (1710-1716) in which they lived together in a far off mountain retreat in Japan. Tashiro was sworn to secrecy over the texts contents because the author believed the teachings to be far too radical and too militaristic for the then peaceful times during the Shogunate Rule (1603-1867). During this time of unusual calmness, the teachings of Buddhism and the ethical codes of Confucius permeated Japan, enriching every aspect of her culture from arts to politics. But the old Samurai, Yamamoto, believed (though acknowledging the Buddha and the tenets of Confucius) that the Samurai, as a class, had become effeminate and weak. Yamamoto's basic premise was that the Samurai could not serve two masters (religion and the Clan) and by doing so had become less effective. The service of the lord and the clan should come first, and once this was done, one could then amuse oneself with the studies of the humanities. In writing the Hagakura, Yamamoto hoped that someday the Samurai would return to the purity of its strong and compassionate past. More than this, however, he wanted to create a class of super-men. As Tanaka explains in his historical overview:

"In his (Yamamoto) talks, he wanted every Samurai to become a super-man. But he wanted super-men who were capable of gaining great power, not for their own self-interest, but for the interest of the clan. He wanted super-men who were capable of operating effectively for the solidarity of the clan." (xv)

This is the key to the power and longevity of the way of the Samurai, and that is its notion of devout loyalty to the Lord of the Clan and the Clan itself. All other concerns in life are simply deemed irrelevant. Moreover, that other essential dictum, do your duty to your parents. And lastly, but most importantly, ensuring compassion for all sentient beings and the devout service of others. By devoting oneself to these vows of allegiance and practicing them, Yamamoto believed the Samurai would attain super-man status.

This particular translation is divided into eleven books, covering personal, social and philosophical advice from How to Excel Above Others, How to Conduct Yourself, Spiritual Vigour and Conceal Your Wisdom. These titles really speak for themselves.

This is an excellent text to prime oneself on the foundational tenets of the way of the Samurai and a good introduction to the history of Japanese culture and thought in terms of social discourse and philosophical perspective.

5-0 out of 5 stars Correcting a previous review ...
Regarding the comments, "...business leaders in Japan today all study Kendo" and, "...It's wise not to take Japanese women in business lightly. They nearly all study naginata in school."

I know Japan enough to say that these comments are not true, in other words lies. One may have special feelings for Japan, the same as I do, but these comments are misleading.

The Samurai teachings live on in Japan as a part of society, but are considered modern and not solely of that era.

5-0 out of 5 stars Good information for both martial arts AND business
Often, if you take a course in business strategy, it will include the wonderful Art of War by Sun-Tzu. Sometimes you are asked to read Mushashi's Book of Five Rings, which is Japanese in origin, not Chinese like Sun-Tzu. It's more philosophical and etherial than Sun-Tzu's book, which can be compared to Von Clauswitz's "The Nature of War." But--if you study martial arts, or plan to work in Japan, have Japanese partners, or if you just enjoy learning about military philosophy as a part of business strategy, then "Bushido: The Way of the Samurai" is a fascinating book with a lot to offer the reader. In fact, this is probably one of the best books I could recommend to get to know the mindset of Japanese business leaders. Man of them come from old Samurai families, whose history and traditions go far, far back in time.

In particular, the book outlines the aspects of Bushido philosophy:

Justice
Courage
Benevolence
Loyalty
Honor
Self-control
Sincerity

The book of course gives the meaning of Samurai rituals, including seppuku (hari-kiri) and discussing the training of a warrior. Lest you think this is old hat, business leaders in Japan today all study Kendo, the martial art of the sword and the closest to Bushido's heart.

Even women are not exempted from the Bushido code. They are expected to do their part as warriors, and women traditionally have used the naginata (halberd or pike) as a defensive weapon. It's funny to think that the naginata is considered "effeminate" and watch a Japanese sportswoman wielding that deadly blade against eight opponents during a martial arts demonstration. It's wise not to take Japanese women in business lightly. They nearly all study naginata in school.

I've worked briefly in Japan and have studied Aikido in the past. I found "Bushido" to be one of the most valuable books I own on the subject of Japanese culture and mindset, as well as an additional good book on military philosophy. ... Read more


196. Of Grammatology
by Jacques Derrida, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
list price: $23.95
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Asin: 0801858305
Catlog: Book (1998-01-01)
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Sales Rank: 92112
Average Customer Review: 3.46 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (24)

5-0 out of 5 stars Among the most important texts of the 20th century
This volume is central to Derrida's project and is, perhaps, his single most important work. In it, one finds the essentail contentions that inform his other essays. Whether one views, from the analytic tradition, these concepts as indulgent rubish or as culmination of a pre-Socratic force hidden under the ubiquitous effects of Plato and Aristotle, they are critical in understanding the disjunctions of philosophy.

While Derrida's writing may be difficult because it is both dense and playful, allusive and iconoclastic,these presentational "quirks" are not empty but tied to the basic structures of his argumentation.

Since its publication, popular characterizations of this book have attributed to it positions it does not hold. Derrida is, among his other gifts, a scholar of the first order and behind his statements are close readings of many of the philosphical greats that preceded his effort. This is not the babbling of the manic mind but a huge encounter with the dominant tradition of interpretation.

Such a gigantic target cannot be exhausted in one volume, but even if one wishes to affirm the analytic tradition, this volume should be read with the respect and care one gives a worthy enemy.

5-0 out of 5 stars juggling the (extra)ordinary
In the context of Derrida's early project - to provide a critique of the foundational human science - linguistics - Of Grammatology is an essential book. In it he develops ideas about "writing" and about the "trace", ideas which illuminate much about the modern science of linguistics. His work is an astringent when applied to other more "analytical" philosophers of language (e.g. John Searle).

Derrida's writing style may seem difficult at first, until one realizes that it embodies two other important ideas - play and undecideability. Of Grammatology is not exactly a book of philosophy, and not exactly a book on linguistics, and not exactly a literary work but one which rests uneasily among these three disciplines. By not drawing conclusions, by keeping in play many concepts at once, Derrida manages to provide provocative ideas on mental representations while at the same time instantiating these ideas in the ebb and flow of the work itself.

Because of its kalidescopic style, the book can be read for the pure enjoyment of a rambunctious entertainment, and as an important philosophical text, and as a satire, and as profoundly serious.

As the academic furor over "decontruction" dies down, Derrida's work perhaps can begun to be read for its human importance. Those who value an insistent questioning will find a champion here.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
This text is worth the effort and cost, if only for the fantastic introduction by Spivak -- perhaps the nicest introduction to Deconstruction available. The Introduction itself, was, in fact required reading for comp-lit classes studying Deconstruction at Yale in the mid-80s -- the time of DeMann, Hartmann and J. Hillis Miller.

4-0 out of 5 stars "Ivory Tower" egghead. Welfare for Intellectuals.
THOSE CAN DO WILL DO, THOSE CANNOT DO WILL TEACH!!!!!

Anyone who has been to a good college knows there are the "HARD" subjects like science, mathematics, engineering, physics, chemistry, medicine,

where the smart ones gravitate toward and "SOFT" subjects like arts, humanities, English lit, history, and philosophy.

The soft subjects are what's called "bonehead" "non-science", "mickey mouse", "for dummies." "future at Burger King"

A degree in literature or philosophy will get you a job at Burger King, Taco Bell. A degree in engineering can get a job working on the Space Shuttle, NASA, Boeing 777, Microsoft, Intel CPU, real jobs, with real benefits for humanity.

Philosophy text, philosophy classes are basically "bull session" endless BS in language, language, language.

All these phoney, fake, jobs for academics exists only on colleges. Once the Internet, Computer obsoletes these soft classes, professors will be at the drive-by windows at Burger King.

Jacques Derrida has been an academic all his life. That's not a real job. Please get a real job, produce goods, services in the real world, earn a living like the rest of us. The old adage:

THOSE CAN DO WILL DO, THOSE CANNOT DO WILL TEACH!!!!!

4-0 out of 5 stars Where Were You The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down?
Or, *Of Grammatology* As A Guide To Theoretical Criminology

Jacques Derrida's *Of Grammatology* is one of the most infamous theoretical works of recent decades: from its initial reception as a Rosetta Stone of a new literary history to Derrida's famous snubbing by Cambridge dons, it was reputed to be all kinds of mind-expanding. But although Derrida has settled into a more philosophical metier, the theory presented in this book has a character which is rarely remarked upon: in reality, it is all but a highly adequate theory of criminal investigation built upon the non-substantial character of the trace.

Traces of evidence are not exactly anything, including the intended meanings or effects of the words or actions which serve as the subject of judicial inquiry: and Derrida's ruminations upon Levi-Strauss, Saussure, and Rousseau -- concerning their "lines" with respect to the amount of structure which can be uncritically attributed to language at the popular, "unpopular", or personal level -- "desediment" a theory of language which relies heavily upon Freud's evocation of the magnetic-writing pad as metaphor for a "graphological" unconscious which brooks no imagistic guff. In this he is not very distant from Richard Montague's concern with "disambiguation" as a ground for linguistic meaning, but those who consider Derrida's work beyond the analytic pale have perhaps been snookered by theories of linguistic meaning which assume that institutions forming an integral part of language must not play any significant role in the formulation of a theory of meaning.

As Derrida will tell you here museums are no myth, but perhaps a certain amount of *elan* as regards the restrictions placed upon us by such things is actually a condition of adequacy for such work (as it certainly would be for any such social theory -- one might also not be amiss in considering earlier confrontations with "positivistic" criminologists as an intellectual benchmark for this book). In other words, although in considering deconstruction/desedimentation we are also not far from the concerns of anti-realism finely spun there is really nothing "spectacular" about this book: by the standards of its time -- and that is saying something -- it is a careful analysis of classic works, the product of an "honest *Ordinarius*".

However, those having a passing acquaintance with Derrida's French will recognize in Gayatri Charkravorty Spivak's translation an able attempt to "estrange" the reader from what could otherwise be an all-too-familiar text: the "Translator's Preface" is a device for working a "logic of disintegration" upon Derrida's text, such that his more speculative comments "appear to have" the same grade of theoreticity as his borrowings from social scientists (perhaps the event of this book's translation deserves more attention from translation theorists than it has traditionally gotten). Whether or not such "evenness" gave people ideas as to the character of the printed word, this was certainly one of the more important texts of the 20th Century; and if people talking about "deconstruction" strikes your ear wrong, here is an easy and earnest way to remedy that. ... Read more


197. Looking At Philosophy: The Unbearable Heaviness of Philosophy Made Lighter
by DonaldPalmer
list price: $30.93
our price: $30.93
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Asin: 076740596X
Catlog: Book (2000-07-28)
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages
Sales Rank: 246599
Average Customer Review: 4.53 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Organized historically and augmented by more than 400 cartoons designed to make teaching and learning more fun, this lighthearted work born of serious scholarship can be used as a core text or as a supplement in introductory courses. ... Read more

Reviews (15)

5-0 out of 5 stars A worthy introduction to philosophy: fun, yet serious
Neutrality does not exist, everyone has his own ideas. The author of this book belongs to the faith of Postmodern Skepticism. Except for the emphasis on postmodern or feminist thinkers, Palmer remains balanced. The exposition of philosophical ideas is not oversimplified. This is not the case of the lovely book "Sophie's World", by the Lutheran Christian J. Gaarder, where the oversimplification sometimes turns into incorrectness. Gaarder's book is yet an excellent choice for those who would prefer to discover the history of philosophy by reading a charming novel written in the style of "Alice in the wonderland".

Palmer's treatment is good. I wish he had not remained silent about Jewish thinkers such as some writers of the Old Testament , Philo, Jesus Christ and his apostles, given the considerrable impact of Jewish thought on the West. The book is illustrated by many drawings that are really fun. This is the best introduction to the history of philosophy that I know among those books that are not too boring or too heavy).


As for a systematical introduction to the ideas of philosophy, I can only recommend "Introduction to philosophy", by Norman L Geisler. The author honestly and clearly presents himself as a Christian and also concludes each chapter with a Christian view, yet most systematically brings all points of views on all issues in all chapters, and gives all the arguments and counter-arguments, and also many references. Whereas Palmer's other book "Does the center hold?", is defineltely postmodern/skeptical, yet in a hidden way, which may be misleading for a beginner in the field.


For those who want to read deeper thoughts written by current Professors of philosophy, I can recommend the books of James P Moreland, William Craig and Norman Geisler. (especially Geisler's book on logic: "Come, let us reason"). (these guys are Christians, but brilliant).

I think Palmer's "Looking at philosophy" can bring a lot of enlightenment and fun to the readers and also incite them to embark for some adventure in the philosophical lands. Let us hope they will be willing to read more and explore all these mind-bogling landscapes..

5-0 out of 5 stars Wow! Tough stuff made easy
This book is hilarious. But it't not silly or simplistic. Don Palmer has a great talent for drawing funny cartoons teaching philosophy and describing difficult concepts quite easily. This book covers most philosophers fom the entire history of philosophy, from Thales to Derrida. What makes the book great is that, unlike other comic philosophy books, it consists of a lot of written text (very simple to understand, but accurate and informative!), while the cartoons are just on the side to help exemplify and remember a point that is explained in the text. And the cartoons are funny! Palmer draws such statements as "God is not in time" or "Edmund Husserl performing an Epoche on a coffee cup." Another bonus is that the book has an easy-to-understand glossary and an index. It's a great introduction to the history of philosophy, and also a terrific guide for the advanced student of philosophy who needs to quickly look up a given concept (e.g., Locke's metaphysics) he doesn't fully remember.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great book that gets you thinking and keeps you laughing
This book got me to look at philosophy more... It's a great book if you just need a reference, without a lot of analysis by critics, or the actual philosophers themselves, which can get mind-numbing at times. It's great to get, if just for the cartoons (you end up having to read the text to make sense out of most of the cartoons). But no, I don't know if I can explain the naked-male-prostitute-riding-on-a-bicyle cartoon, which is actually in here (and not a figment of my imagination). But don't let that keep you from buying...

4-0 out of 5 stars Good primer
I use this textbook as an introductory guide to Philosophy at a small state college. The students like it, and can actually get through it, and yet it is smart, and doesn't dumb down big ideas.

This book is just wonderful, and the author even has a sense of humor. From this, we go on to Seinfeld and Philosophy, and finally Cohen's book A Philosophical Approach to Jokes, if that's the right name. Of these, Palmer's book is far and away the most helpful.

I wish there was just a little bit more about the importance of these ideas as they are reflected in the polis. For instance, he goes through the ideas of Hobbes but doesn't talk about where they lead, or the social implications of his ideas.

5-0 out of 5 stars Best philosophy book ever!
...P>I read this book when I was in eighth grade. Granted some of it was a little abstract for me, but I loved the way it presented everything in a straightforward manner. I wish that I didn't lose my copy of it, because I want to reference it now that I am in college! ... Read more


198. Logic for Lawyers : A Guide to Clear Legal Thinking
by Ruggero J Aldisert
list price: $49.95
our price: $49.95
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Asin: 1556815387
Catlog: Book (2001-06)
Publisher: National Institute for Trial Advocacy
Sales Rank: 113140
Average Customer Review: 4.17 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

Developing good legal reasoning habits is essential to a quality law practice. Judge Aldisert examines legal thinking from a variety of perspectives to help guide lawyers through appropriate reasoning patterns. One Amazon.com reviewer says the book "provides a shortcut to understanding the basics of legal reasoning, including the common law doctrine of precedent, identifying weaknesses in legal arguments, and fashioning winning arguments through syllogisms." --David Marshall Nissman, J.D. ... Read more

Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great, but also see Common Sense Rules of Advocacy
In additon to Aldisert's book, also get a practical book on trial advocacy, "Common Sense Rules of Advocacy for Lawyers" (also a wonderful book for 3Ls and new lawyers who want to learn how to be effective advocates). The author, Keith Evans, practiced as a British barrister for a decade and as a California trial lawyer for many years. He also lectured regularly to many American Inns of Court.

However, be warned: Common Sense Rules of Advocacy is NOT a book for litigators, but for advocates.

What others have said about Evans book:

"Valuable review for the old timers and an excellent primer for those who are starting the climb."
-- Jacob A. Stein, Stein, Mitchell & Mezines, Washington, DC

"Superb how-to book ...that is refreshingly readable."
-- Karl Tegland, author, "Courtroom Handbook on Washington Evidence"

"A wonderful 'Bible' for the trial lawyer who wants to win. If only we had had this in law school!"
-- Browne Greene, Greene, Broillet, Panish & Wheeler, Santa Monica, CA

"Even the most experienced trial lawyer can pick up some new techniques here."
-- Frederick C. Moss, Professor, Dedman School of Law, Southern Methodist University

"Valuable insights and practical lessons for anyone who advocates for a living."
-- Steve Clymer, J.D., mediator, arbitrator, and facilitator with ACCORD Dispute Resolution Services, Inc.

"Remarkable compendium of useful advice."
-- Roxanne Barton Conlin, Roxanne Conlin & Associates, Des Moines, IA (first woman President of Association of Trial Lawyers of America)

"Great introduction for the new lawyer and a wonderful learning tool for the advocate with experience."
-- Sherman L. Cohn, Professor, Georgetown University Law Center (first national President of American Inns of Court)

"Terrific guidebook."
-- Philip H. Corboy, Corboy & Demetrio, Chicago, IL

You can see more testimonials and more information about Evans' book at RulesOfAdvocacy.com. Or search Amazon for ISBN 1587330059.

1-0 out of 5 stars Not What I Was Looking For
This book is not what I was looking for. Aldisert basically quotes Copi's book "Introduction to Logic" throughout. I've taken I logic course using the Copi book and recieved an "A-" and I still couldnt grasp what Aldisert tried to say in the book. I wanted a book to help me debate/argue in my pre law courses and this book didnt help.

I kept reading and re-reading this book in some hope that it would help me refute arguments and anaylze readings. This book just didnt do the job.

Aldisert said in the preface that he updated this book to make it easy to understand, and he failed.

I thought this book was going to help me apply logic to my readings. Alidisert just gave a whole bunch of court cases but I didnt see how he used Deductive/Inductive reasoning on it. This book was too vague. I liked the idea of giving us cases to anaylze, but he should broke down the cases step by step so the reader can understand how to apply logic.

Simply, he just doesnt show he the reader can apply logic to arguments/readings/everday language. I was very disapointed because by the reviews on Amazon I thought this book was going to do the trick.

I recommend "Intorduction to Logic" by Copi for anyone trying to learn how to apply logic, or you can just pick up an LSAT book.

This book cost me 50 bucks and i'm going to return this crap as soon as possible !!!

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent book!
If you are preparing for law school or attending law school, then you need to read this book. This book will improve your understanding/analysis of common law and improve your ability to construct legal arguments.

5-0 out of 5 stars Helps to burn off the fog that law profs relish creating
I can't say it any better than in Aldisert's own words in his chapter on the Socratic Method: "An understanding of the principles of deduction and induction will significantly assist the student in the daily exercise [i.e. the Socratic Method used by law professors in the classroom]. To lack this understanding is to be substantially, if not totally, disadvantaged."

5-0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended
The reviewer from San Diego has it spot on. I wish this would have been required reading in law school. It would have been infinitely helpful in dealing with the professors' hide-the-ball obfuscatory nonsense. Senior Judge Aldisert has obviously spent a long time contemplating the subject, thus it will be well worth your time and effort to not just read this book, but to closely study it. Aside from its great value in assisting legal studies, a side benefit of the book is that you'll probably find that you start spotting all sorts of logical fallacies in the world at large. This can be both good and bad, of course. Good for sharpness of mind, bad for romantic/familial relationships. We cannot effectively deal with our loved ones through the strict scrutiny of a legal lens. Be sure to take it off when appropriate. But I'm getting off track here. In short, if you acquire this book before or during law school, consider yourself fortunate. ... Read more


199. Ethics for Life: A Text with Readings
by Judith A. Boss, Judith Boss
list price: $61.10
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0072831332
Catlog: Book (2003-07-15)
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Langua
Sales Rank: 26253
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Ethics for Life provides a clear, well-organized overview of theoretical ethics that employs a contemporary tone and framework.Multicultural coverage and attention to college students' moral development help readers relate the material to their own experience and their own moral growth.Both scholarly and practical, this text aims to significantly improve students' ability to make real-life moral decisions. ... Read more

Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars A great read!
Boss succeeds in presenting an entry level look at deep philosohpical questions. How should we live? What is moral in a pluralistic world? With references to contemporary film and psychological theory, I found this to be a very compelling book. She is not a relativist, but is sensitive to cultural diversity. Again, a great read.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Thoughtful Text
To say any race or gender would be put off by Judith Boss' presentation of ethical theories and case studies is ridiculous. Boss presents students with a humanizing and compelling look at the lives and work of Thomas Aquinas, David Hume, Aristotle, Immanuel Kant, and John Stuart Mill, all classics in the standard Western presentation of ethics. However, she also includes compelling portrayals of Black Elk, Mencius, Ayn Rand, Mahatma Gandhi, Carol Gilligan, and the Buddha. She truly offers introductory students a wide scope of perspectives that is both interdisciplinary and multicultural. There is nothing to fear in this. Having taught this book on the high school level, students are quick to point out Boss' own ethical stand (and she does take them). We debate and wrestle with her perspective in class. For example, while Boss articulates the philosophical framework of ethical subjectivism (including the related philosophy of emotivism and ethical skepticism) with care, she takes a firm stand against this view. No one would be able to miss this. As a teacher, I want my students to not only critique and think deeply about the content of a text, but also the view of the writer who composed it. I also recommend the work of ethicists Jeffrey Olen and Vincent Barry in addition to using specific case studies when teaching and introductory course on ethics. However Boss' text can be a key cornerstone to a well-taught course and one negative review shouldn't steer people away from taking the time to benefit from her thoughtful work.

1-0 out of 5 stars ETHICS or INDOCTRINATION?
Warning to all white males reared in a Western culture: if you read this book and take it seriously, guilt feelings could cause you to jump from the nearest bridge. It is difficult to tell if Ms Boss is a socialist, a Buddhist or both, but one thing we do know is that throughout her book she promotes Eastern, feel-good philosophies and blames white males, capitalism and Western philosophy for all the evils in the world.Boss tries to hide her slant by using subtle adjectives and sometimes mixing her opinion in with quotes from other writers--but she doesn't try hard enough, and her biased opinion soon becomes obvious. Early on she writes: "...genuine praxis demands a shift away from the manner in which an individual routinely sees the world, to a viewing of the world through the eyes of the collective 'we'....We will use this broader definition of analysis throughout this text" (41). Unfortunately, Boss remains true to her word, and her "analysis" turns into unbalanced rhetoric that appears to be an effort to indoctrinate young, impressionable students to her socialistic way of viewing the world's moral problems. Due to lack of space, I can give only a few examples. "Feminists, animal rights activists, and social reformers, for example, are often snubbed by academics as not being 'real' philosophers" (42). If this were true, books like Boss's would not sell. I suppose this is an effort to draw sympathy by making these people appear as underdogs. However, in today's universities, most "academics" are feminists, animal rights activists and social reformers. Do they snub themselves? "Some men, for example, feel that they are entitled to have the last word" (47). Does this mean three men? a thousand? ten million? It would be just as truthful, if not more so, to say that some women feel they are entitled to the last word. "Men may have kept women out of the dog-eat-dog job market out of consideration for their well being, but the effect has been harmful to women" (51). With the rising number of divorces, single mothers, children in day-care instead of home where they would get individual love and attention, and with the rising number of women with heart disease and stress related illnesses, the harmful effect on women (and children) could be easily argued. "Our [U.S.] Constitution has allowed slavery and prevented women from voting and, to this day, allows people to own handguns...." (66). No matter which side a person takes on the controversial gun ownership issue, to lump two evils in with a highly debatable topic can be nothing but an attempt to manipulate young minds. "The neglect of both philosophers and psychologists to take the women's perspective into account has created the false impression that women are morally deficient compared to men" (218). Morally deficient? In the past a minority of white men might have thought this was true, but to make this statement in the 21st century is absurd and only another cry for sympathy. Today, most men welcome the blending of caring and intuitive women's views into a philosophy that has been dominated by white men. But to tear down one in order to promote the other is counterproductive. In her effort to denigrate the United States and everything Western, Boss uses the same sort of rhetoric communists used in the early 20th century when they were trying to sell socialism to poor field workers: "To respond to the plight of people who are starving by telling them to act in ways to promote their own self-interest is nothing but a meaningless gesture" (257). Should they act in ways that do not promote self-interest? "...capitalism turns labor into a commodity--thereby reducing the workers to objects who must sell their labors to capitalists to survive" (258). This statement would be more truthful if it had been written: Capitalism turns an individual's labor into a valuable commodity--thereby raising the individual to the level of a trader who can sell his/her labor to the highest bidder--for capitalism cannot survive without labor. I suppose Boss believes she can get away with cheap shots like this by often using the adjective, laissez-faire, when referring to capitalism. This tripe was easy to sell to poor, uneducated field workers, but the fall of communist Russia and the rise of capitalism has proved it wrong-headed and difficult to sell to bright college students. In the preface of her book, Boss admits that students pass ethic courses, but then she adds: "When confronted with real-life moral issues, most students simply revert back to their earlier forms of reasoning based on cultural norms or self-interest" (vii). There's that pesky self-interest problem again. Boss should consider that these students might be learning more than she gives them credit for. Perhaps students simply reject the socialistic, feel-good morals that universities try to feed them. Perhaps Boss should take heed of her own words--under the subheading of Rhetoric, she states: "Some people are so emotionally invested in certain opinions on moral issues that they may, unknowingly, manipulate their arguments to 'prove' a conclusion that does not logically follow the premise" (55). ... Read more


200. Political Analysis: Technique and Practice
by Louise G. White
list price: $79.95
our price: $79.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0155055224
Catlog: Book (1998-05-22)
Publisher: Wadsworth Publishing
Sales Rank: 351330
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Book Description

This text gives students the skills necessary for analyzing important political issues logically and systematically. Louise White guides students through the entire research design process step-by-step, from formulating sound questions and devising strategies for answering them to analyzing and presenting the results. Exercises throughout let students apply and practice these skills using examples based on real world data and current political events. ... Read more


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