Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Month: January, 2014

842: No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre


842.914: Sartre, Jean-Paul. “No Exit”. In No Exit and Three Other Plays. Translated by Stuart Gilbert. New York: Vintage, 1972. 46 pp. ISBN 0-394-70016-3.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 800: Literature
  • 840: Literatures of French and Romance languages
  • 842: French drama
  • 842.9: 20th Century to the present
  • 842.91: 1900 to 1999
  • 842.914: 1945 to 1999

Jean-Paul Sartre’s play “No Exit” is an interesting look at human interactions when nothing else can distract them. The play involves three people, valeted into a room in Hell one at a time, and then coming to grips with what exactly Hell means. Sartre’s famous quote—“Hell is other people”—is the culmination of their interactions. There’s Garcin, the serial philanderer who deserted the army and was executed by firing squad, Inez, the postal clerk whose affair with a woman led that woman to kill her husband, and Estelle, the aristocrat whose affair bore a child that she subsequently killed. Each firmly belongs where they are, but they squabble with other over petty things. The room they are in has no mirror, so each person must trust the other’s perception of how they look.

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196: Three Spanish Philosophers by Jose Ferrater Mora


196.1: Ferrater Mora, Jose. Three Spanish Philosophers: Unamuno, Ortega, Ferrater Mora. Albany, NY: State University of New York, 2003. 252 pp. ISBN 0-7914-5713-3.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 100: Philosophy and Psychology
  • 190: Modern Western and other non-Eastern philosophy
  • 196: Modern Spanish and Portuguese philosophy
  • 196.1: Modern Spanish philosophy

Jose Ferrater Mora’s Three Spanish Philosophers is a look into the current philosophical work being done by Spanish thinkers. Mora, a philosopher in his own right, tries to interpret, blend, and comment on the works of Miguel de Unamuno (1864-1936) and Josa Ortega y Gasset (1883-1955). These two analyses form a sort of prelude to his own work, which is presented as the third part of the book. It’s a rather odd situation for this work. Mora died in 1991, and this edition came out in 2003. His widow Priscilla Cohn and fellow philosopher Prof. Josep-Maria Terricabras have curated and updated this edition. Each chapter is from a separate work he wrote, but here they are combined to show a progression in Spanish thought from the beginning of the 20th century to the end.

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182: The Music of Pythagoras by Kitty Ferguson


182.2: Ferguson, Kitty. The Music of Pythagoras: How an Ancient Brotherhood Cracked the Code of the Universe and Lit the Path from Antiquity to Outer Space. New York: Walker and Company, 2008. 328 pp. ISBN 0-8027-1631-8.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 100: Philosophy and Psychology
  • 180: Ancient, medieval, and Eastern philosophy
  • 182: Pre-Socratic Greek philosophies
  • 182.2: Pythagorean philosophies

All that is left of him is an equation: a-squared plus b-squared equals c-squared. Every person going through basic geometry hears it. And yet for its ubiquity and almost-infinite proofs, there is very little known of the man who first discovered it in the Western world (there were earlier proofs in Babylon and India). Pythagoras (ca. 570 BCE – ca. 495 BCE) is a man surrounded by mystery. He formed a philosophical cult, but forbade anyone to write anything down, and yet his theorem survived. Kitty Ferguson’s The Music of Pythagoras attempts to separate fact from fiction on behalf of this ancient Greek thinker.

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148: First Principles by Donald Foy


148: Foy, Donald. First Principles: A Return to Humanity’s Shared Traditions. New York: Algora Publishing, 2004. 153 pp. ISBN 0-87586-259-4.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 100: Philosophy and Psychology
  • 140: Specific philosophical schools and viewpoints
  • 148: Dogmatism, eclecticism, liberalism, syncretism, and traditionalism

I honestly have no idea where to start with this one. Perhaps, just simply this: Don Foy’s The First Principles is a philosophical and moral look at both traditionalism and liberalism. It would be a simple book if that’s all it was. But Foy decides to ride the train way off the rails and take the reader into a thicket of personal animosity towards the state of many current institutions. He bases his invectives on C.S. Lewis’s List of First Principles, sprinkles in a little turn-of-the-century heathen-bashing from G.K. Chesterton, and runs amok all over aspects of the postmodern world. Sounds like fun, right?

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