Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Category: 100s

185: Aristotle Made Easy by Mortimer Adler


185: Adler, Mortimer J. Aristotle For Everybody: Difficult Thought Made Easy. New York: Collier, 1978. 192 pp. ISBN 0-02-064111-7.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 100: Philosophy, parapsychology and occultism, and psychology
  • 180: Ancient, Medieval, and Eastern Philosophy
  • 185: Aristotelian philosophy

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198: Kierkegaard Within Your Grasp by Shellet O’Hara


198.9: O’Hara, Shelley. Kierkegaard Within Your Grasp: The First Step to Understanding Kierkegaard. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2004. 75 pp. ISBN 0-7645-5974-5.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 100: Philosophy and Psychology
  • 190: Modern Western and other non-Eastern philosophy
  • 198: Scandinavia and Finland
  • 198.9: Denmark

This book is simple is its aim and execution: to help the reader into the writings of Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard. In less than a hundred pages, we are introduced to Kierkegaard’s life, works, and thinking. The author goes through each major work well and legitimately synthesizes the salient theses into the thinking of the period. In many variations, Kierkegaardian philosophy struggles with choice, faith, and the individual, trying to make sense of both the existence of the self and the existence of God. This is indeed a good introduction to Kierkegaard’s work, but it is just a first step.

115: Time by Eva Hoffman


115: Hoffman, Eva. Time. New York: Picador, 2009. 189 pp. ISBN 978-0-312-42727-6.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 100: Philosophy and Psychology
  • 110: Metaphysics
  • 115: Time

Time is all at once the most universal, the most intangible, and the most misunderstood concept. We make time, take time, keep time, lose time, waste time, borrow time, but never really understand it. Eva Hoffman’s Time takes a look at time from four different vantage points: physiologically, psychologically, culturally, and contemporaneously. And in each perspective, we see time in a whole new light.

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130: Occult America by Mitch Horowitz


130: Horowitz, Mitch. Occult America: White House Seances, Ouija Circles, Masons, and the Secret Mystic History of Our Nation. New York: Bantam, 2010. 258 pp. ISBN 978-0-553-38515-1.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 100: Philosophy and Psychology
  • 130: Parapsychology and occultism

In 1774, Mother Ann Lee emigrated from England to New York and started a small but important movement in America: the Shakers. Their belief in a more mystical Christian God led to accusations of heresy from mainline believers. From this small band of radical believers sprang pockets on mysticism throughout America over the last 250 years. Mitch Horowitz’s Occult America takes a slightly off-center look at American history through the lens of those who believed, prayed, practiced, and lived a little differently from the rest of us.

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123: As Luck Would Have It by Joshua Piven


123.3: Piven, Joshua. As Luck Would Have It: Incredible Stories, from Lottery Wins to Lightning Strikes. New York: Villard, 2003. 181 pp. ISBN 1-4000-6055-9.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 100: Philosophy and Psychology
  • 120: Epistemology, causation, and mankind
  • 123: Determinism and indeterminism
  • 3: Chance

In As Luck Would Have It, Joshua Piven investigates nine chance occurrences and how they inform our view of the world and the circumstances of our lives. It’s a quick little book, to say the least. It covers the following stories:

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149: The Rationalists


149.7: The Rationalists. New York: Anchor, 1960. 471 pp.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 100: Philosophy and Psychology
  • 140: Philosophical schools of thought
  • 149: Other philosophical schools and doctrines
  • 149.7: Rationalism and related systems and doctrines

The Rationalists is a collection of philosophical treatises by Rene Descartes, Benedict de Spinoza, and Gottfried Leibniz. You get Descartes’s Discourse on Method and Meditations, Spinoza’s Ethics, and Leibniz’s Monadology and Discourse on Metaphysics. By the middle of the 17th century, philosophy was finding its way out of the tired debates on religion and started to become a bit more scientific. The natural philosophers of the Renaissance started to place more importance on observable phenomena and experimentation rather than dictated dogma. The three philosophers collected here show how the school of rationalism started, matured, and culminated in an entirely different way of thinking.

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100: The Big Questions by Steven E. Landsburg


100: Landsburg, Steven E. The Big Questions: Tackling the Problems of Philosophy with Ideas from Mathematics, Economics, and Physics. New York: Free Press, 2009. 248 pp. ISBN 978-1-4391-4821-1.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 100: Philosophy and Psychology
  • 100: General works on philosophy

I’m going to be open-minded here. I will be. First, I will address the book on its style, its writing, and the information presented. Then, there will be a rant and I do not apologize for that.

Steven E. Landsburg’s The Big Questions is an intriguing foray into the use of non-typical sciences to look at macroscopic philosophical questions. The questions in questions range from why is there something rather than nothing, is there a God, is logical disagreement a sign of inherent meaninglessness, can we really know everything, and so on. These are indeed interesting and challenging questions. Looking into philosophy using physics and economics is kind of fun and gets one thinking laterally and not directly, which on the whole is a good skill to have.

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