Archive for category Books

First few pages of The Brothers Karamazov

“One would think that you’d got a promotion, Fyodor Pavlovitch, you seem so pleased in spite of your sorrow,” scoffers said to him. Many even added that he was glad of a new comic part in which to play the buffoon, and that it was simply to make in funnier that he pretended to be unaware of his ludicrous position.

I have a feeling I will like this book quite a bit.

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Semicolon Obsession

I’m slowly making my way through Insanity: The Idea and Its Consequences, by Thomas Szasz. The book is quite interesting, but I find the overuse of semicolons a bit distracting. It almost becomes a game of trying to guess where he will throw in another semicolon (you can expect about 5 per page).

It may simply be just me (and the particular books I happened to read thus far), but I’ve seen more semicolons in the 80 or so pages that I’ve made it through the book than I’ve seen in my entire life.

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Ayn Rand and her hatred of Kant

Having read her book, Philosophy: Who Needs It, and knowing a bit about the history of philosophy, I feel compelled to make this post. Throughout the entire book, Rand characterized Kant’s project solely as an “evil” attack upon the reason of human beings. It was a relentless assault which she attempted to justify by citing several sources (I can remember 2 clearly), which were largely uncompelling. Why pick on Kant when he was the one trying to figure out where David Hume and the entire project of Empiricism had gone wrong? If Kant is evil, is she afraid of speaking Hume’s name? Hume had taken Berkeley’s skepticism of the material world further, not only claiming that there is nothing but perception, but saying that there is no sense of “I,” no perceiver to speak of, either, because the “I” cannot be directly experienced (the possibility of there being other perceivers but yourself was already under assault by Berkeley’s time before he inserted his “wonderglue” solution of God). He also denied the concept of causality and was critical of the method of induction (it is justified by a circular argument). What wound Rand think about that?

It seems to me as though Rand is counting on the readers’ ignorance of the history philosophy to pander her opinion which she fails (in my opinion) to justify. Nevertheless, the very beginning and the end of her book was worth the read.

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Nearing the end of War and Peace

It does feel somewhat like a work accomplished, although I’ve really done nothing but read. 1240 pages in, 130 or so pages to go — pages that are easily 2 times as dense as the typical text that I read. I’m welcoming the more frequent philosophical asides, which seem to be concentrated mainly at the beginning and at the end of the boook. They originally made for a bit of a slow start to the book, but I’m enjoying the change of pace (events are coming to a “close”).

For those wondering, it took me about 3 months to get this far into the book, with various interruptions (college, other reading such as The Death of Ivan Ilych and A Confession, both by Tolstoy). This didn’t feel like a book that I could power my way through (unlike a book such as Complications) — some parts were a bit dense and I felt like I needed to take a bit of a break from reading. The chapters were partitioned in a way that it’s very easy to take a break — many chapters are 1-2 pages in length. I am quite pleased with the book.

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Why I Love Borders

Borders offers everyone who has shopped at their store a free Borders Rewards card in exchange for their email address. I’ve had the card for over a year and have not yet received anything that may be classified as spam. I receive coupons that can be printed out and redeemed quite often, ranging from 20 to 40% off any book in the store—other types of merchandise usually have restrictions that I don’t wish to list.

I received a 33% off coupon not too long ago and decided to visit Borders and see if I could snatch an inexpensive book. I noticed a fairly large book for only $4.99 and decided to check it out. That book turned out to be The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States, 2nd edition. The book currently selling for $43.87 on Amazon. With my 33% off coupon, the total came out to be $3.65 for a hardcover book that’s over 1200 pages. The pages themselves are not the usual ultra-cheap, about-to-fall-apart-in-your-hands type. The pages actually feel good in my hands, a quality which affects my reading a surprising amount.

Perhaps Borders forgot to add an extra “9” in the price tag, which would’ve made it $49.99, a figure that would make more sense in comparison to the Amazon price. Amazon may not have the absolute best pricing, but it certainly isn’t off by a factor of 10 or more.

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