What Are You Currently Reading?
Post Reply
 
Thread Rating:
  • 2 Votes - 5 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
31-10-2015, 02:46 AM
RE: What Are You Currently Reading?
(30-10-2015 03:42 PM)ghostexorcist Wrote:  
(10-10-2015 05:03 AM)Szuchow Wrote:  Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning by Timothy Snyder.

I heard about that on NPR the other day. Any good?

Yes, very good. It's new (or at least unknown to me) interpretation of Htler policy and Shoah itself. In this book Hitler is anarchist rather than nationalist and Jews are killed cause they're stateless not by oppressiveness of the state. Hitler antisemitism is shown in new way, slur about Jews being disease is treated as what Hitler really thought not just part of dehumanizing rhetorics.

I would reccomend this book if you're interested in such topics. And even if not I would say it's worth reading.

The first revolt is against the supreme tyranny of theology, of the phantom of God. As long as we have a master in heaven, we will be slaves on earth.

Mikhail Bakunin.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
31-10-2015, 07:39 AM
RE: What Are You Currently Reading?
(31-10-2015 02:46 AM)Szuchow Wrote:  
(30-10-2015 03:42 PM)ghostexorcist Wrote:  I heard about that on NPR the other day. Any good?

Yes, very good. It's new (or at least unknown to me) interpretation of Htler policy and Shoah itself. In this book Hitler is anarchist rather than nationalist and Jews are killed cause they're stateless not by oppressiveness of the state. Hitler antisemitism is shown in new way, slur about Jews being disease is treated as what Hitler really thought not just part of dehumanizing rhetorics.

I would reccomend this book if you're interested in such topics. And even if not I would say it's worth reading.

Thanks. I'll check it out.
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
04-11-2015, 02:37 AM
RE: What Are You Currently Reading?
Hitler's Beneficiaries: Plunder, Racial War, and the Nazi Welfare State by Götz Aly.

The first revolt is against the supreme tyranny of theology, of the phantom of God. As long as we have a master in heaven, we will be slaves on earth.

Mikhail Bakunin.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
13-11-2015, 08:35 AM
RE: What Are You Currently Reading?
Stacy Schiff’s ‘The Witches’.
The Salem Witch trials. A REALLY great book, (well .... Kindle).

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
13-11-2015, 09:19 AM
RE: What Are You Currently Reading?
Currently reading: Living Without God by Ronald Aronson

Next in queue: Knocking on Heaven's Door by Lisa Randall
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
16-11-2015, 03:00 PM
RE: What Are You Currently Reading?
Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott

"Holy Mother!" said the monk, as he addressed the assembled knights, "I am at last safe and in Christian keeping."
"Safe thou art," replied De Bracy: "and for Christianity, here is the stout Baron Reginald Front-de-Boeuf, whose utter abomination is a Jew; and the good Knight Templar, Brian de Bois-Gilbert, whose trade is to slay Saracens--If these are not good marks of Christianity, I know no other which they bear about them."


"I forgive you, Sir Knight,: said Rowena, "as a Christian."
"That means," said Wamba, "that she does not forgive you at all."

Atheism: it's not just for communists any more!
America July 4 1776 - November 8 2016 RIP
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
16-11-2015, 03:23 PM
RE: What Are You Currently Reading?
The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss
I started this one because it is written by an old friend of mine. I am finishing it because it is really a fun read.

I just wanted to let you know that I love you even though you aren't naked right now. Heart
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
16-11-2015, 03:36 PM
RE: What Are You Currently Reading?
The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
22-11-2015, 09:07 AM
RE: What Are You Currently Reading?
Thinking of reading the following book, here is a NYT book review.

‘Battling the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World,’ by Tim Whitmarsh
By REBECCA NEWBERGER GOLDSTEINNOV. 20, 2015

The philosopher Sydney Morgenbesser, beloved by generations of Columbia University students (including me), was known for lines of wit that yielded nuggets of insight. He kept up his instructive shtick until the end, remarking to a colleague shortly before he died: “Why is God making me suffer so much? Just because I don’t believe in him?” For Morgenbesser, nothing worth pondering, including disbelief, could be entirely de-­paradoxed.

The major thesis of Tim Whitmarsh’s excellent “Battling the Gods” is that atheism — in all its nuanced varieties, even Morgenbesserian — isn’t a product of the modern age but rather reaches back to early Western intellectual tradition in the ancient Greek world.

The period that Whitmarsh covers is roughly 1,000 years, during which the Greek-speaking population emerged from illiteracy and anomie, became organized into independent city-states that spawned a high-achieving culture, were absorbed into the Macedonian Empire and then into the Roman Empire, and finally became Christianized. These momentous political shifts are efficiently traced, with astute commentary on their reflection in religious attitudes.

But the best part of “Battling the Gods” is the Greek chorus of atheists themselves, who speak distinctively throughout each of the political transformations — until, that is, the last of them, when they go silent. If you’ve been paying attention to contemporary atheists you might be startled by the familiarity of the ancient positions.

So here is Democritus in the fifth century B.C. — he who coined the term “atom,” from the Greek for “indivisible,” speculating that reality consisted of nothing but fundamental particles swirling randomly around in the void — propounding an anthropological theory of the origins of religious beliefs. Talk of “the gods,” he argued, comes naturally to primitive people who, unable yet to grasp the laws of nature, resort to fantastical storytelling. The exact titles of his works remain in doubt, but his naturalist explanation of the origins of conventional religion might have made use of Daniel C. Dennett’s title “Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon.”

Or take the inflammatory title of Christopher Hitchens’s book, “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.” Lucretius, who lived in the first century B.C., chose a more neutral title for his magnificent poem, “De Rerum Natura,” or “On the Nature of Things,” but he concurred with the sentiment expressed in Hitchens’s subtitle. He focused not just on the groundlessness of beliefs proffered in ignorance of the natural causes of physical phenomena, but also on their behavioral consequences. In the grip of religious conviction, a person will commit acts too horrific to otherwise contemplate. So Agamemnon, advised by a priest, made a human sacrifice of his daughter to appease the goddess Artemis, who had been offended over the killing of a deer. “Tantum religio potuit suadere malorum,” Lucretius wrote: “Such is the terrible evil that religion was able to induce.” Though the religion may have changed, the point remained sufficiently pertinent for Voltaire to quote the line to Frederick II of Prussia in urging the case for secularism.

But whereas Lucretius focused on the immorality of men when under their religious delusions, other ancients stressed the immorality of the gods themselves, who either passively permit or actively participate in human tragedies. The gods are not great. Euripides, toward the end of his life, composed “The Madness of Heracles,” which has one character dressing down Zeus: “You are a stupid kind of god, or by nature you are unjust.” Mortals morally overtake immortals, the gods being oblivious to what the virtuous know: the value of human life, the outrage of its guiltless suffering.

And then there are those pre-­Socratics, like Xenophanes and Anaxagoras, who, in my mind, foreshadow what would be Spinoza’s special brand of atheism, identifying God with nature — or, more specifically, the intelligible structure of nature expressed in unchangeable laws. “Xenophanes, then, was not an atheist in any straightforward sense,” Whitmarsh writes. “He was not denying the existence of deity but radically redefining it.” The author goes on to ask whether anything would be lost “in Xenophanes’ account of the world if we substituted ‘nature’ for ‘the one god.’ ” Such a redefinition reappears not only in Spinoza’s magnum opus, the posthumously published Ethics, but in those who studied Spinoza, including Einstein. When asked whether he believed in God, Einstein responded, “I believe in Spinoza’s God,” which amounted to an affirmation of the guiding principle of science, namely nature’s beautiful intelligibility.

But where, among the ancient Greeks, did I catch the strains of Sydney Morgenbesser? Not surprisingly, it was in a play by the comic poet Aristophanes, who, like Euripides, was an Athenian of the fifth century B.C. In the opening scene of “Knights,” two slaves are complaining about another overbearing slave. How can they evade him? One suggests they go to the statue of some god and prostrate themselves, which calls forth a disdainful reaction from the other: Do you really believe in gods? What’s your proof? “The fact that I’m cursed by them,” comes the response. I can well imagine Sydney in the role.

Ancient Greece was full of myths, and we are full of myths about ancient Greece. One of these is that Greece was so replete with religion — for there were indeed religious rites accompanying almost every facet of public life — that it soaked through to the Greek view of both the physical and the moral spheres. This is demonstrably false. As Whitmarsh states, Greek religion was consistently silent on precisely those questions on which religion as we know it is most noisily insistent: “As a rule, Greek religion had very little to say about morality and the nature of the world.” Scholars have all too often imposed the Abrahamic conception of religion onto the ancient Greek world, thereby failing to see how a secular worldview easily cohabited with frenetic religious activity.

But if Greek religion didn’t ponder the great moral and metaphysical questions, what was its point? Whitmarsh argues convincingly that Greek religion functioned mainly as an expression of civic engagement, both at the local level of the city-states, each of which had its own favored divinities and rites, and at the broader level of greater Hellenicity.

The civic function of their religion left Greeks the intellectual space in which to exercise reason in pursuing ontological and normative questions, which led to the beginnings of both natural philosophy (later called science), devoted to puzzling out the nature of reality, and moral philosophy, devoted to puzzling out how we best ought to live. Both disciplines are necessary for a robust secularism; Whitmarsh shortchanges one of them, which results in some sentences that I would wish away from this admirable book, including: “In an advanced capitalist economy based on technological innovation, it has been necessary to claw intellectual and moral authority away from the clergy and reallocate it to the secular specialists in science and engineering.”

Thank God, secular specialties aren’t confined to science and engineering but also include moral philosophy, which, if it has stopped short of presuming the mantle of “moral authority,” has nevertheless helped in the laborious process of expanding our moral intuitions.

Or rather, don’t thank God. Thank the Greeks.

BATTLING THE GODS
Atheism in the Ancient World
By Tim Whitmarsh
290 pp. Alfred A. Knopf. $27.95.
Rebecca Newberger Goldstein is the author, most recently, of “Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won’t Go Away.” She is a recipient of this year’s National Humanities Medal.

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
“Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.”~ Ambrose Bierce
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes Full Circle's post
02-12-2015, 02:38 PM
RE: What Are You Currently Reading?
Just finished Faith vs Fact by Jerry Coyne. Articulates the argument well. Highly recommended.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
Post Reply
Forum Jump: