Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Category: 110s

115: Time by Eva Hoffman

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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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113: The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos by Brian Swimme

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113: Swimme, Brian. The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos: Humanity and the New Story. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1996. 112 pp. ISBN 1-57075-281-8.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 100: Philosophy and Psychology
  • 110: Metaphysics
  • 113: Cosmology (Philosophy of nature)

Brian Swimme’s The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos is one of the weirdest books I’ve read in a long time. In one fell swoop, he declares capitalism the new cult of our age and urges parents to replace evangelist doctrine with teachings of astronomy, science, and cosmology. His main invective is against the constant barrage of advertisements, product placement, and consumer behavior that gets ingrained into children, thereby teaching them that the meaning of life is in things and not ideas. While this is not an entirely crazy notion, his hippy-dippy awe of the universe sometime gets in the way of his message.

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118: The Force of Reason and the Logic of Force by Richard A. Lee

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118: Lee, Richard A., Jr. The Force of Reason and the Logic of Force. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2004. 114 pp. ISBN 1-4039-3366-9.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 100: Philosophy and Psychology
  • 110: Metaphysics
  • 118: Force and energy

Richard A. Lee’s The Force of Reason and the Logic of Force is a complex foray into how the concept of force, depicted here as the basis for violence and power, interweaves itself into our realities, thoughts, and cosmologies. At least that’s what I’m pretty sure it’s about. Lee hits fast and hard with complex philosophical arguments right off the bat and never really lets up. It’s a short book, but requires a lot of energy to get through. He examines the history of the concept of force from the ancient Greeks through Roger Bacon and Thomas Aquinas and then on to Pierre d’Ailly and Thomas Hobbes. He also looks as force from both a human and a natural perspective. Human force gets linked to power and violence pretty easily, but force in nature is linked to simple movement.

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117: Complexity and Postmodernism by Paul Cilliers

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117: Cilliers, Paul. Complexity and Postmodernism: Understanding Complex Systems. London: Routledge, 2002. 142 pp. ISBN 0-203-01225-9.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 100: Philosophy and Psychology
  • 110: Metaphysics
  • 117: Structure

Paul Cilliers’s Complexity and Postmodernism lies at the intriguing intersection of philosophy and science. It has long been theorized that the rules and equations that govern scientific processes and physical models could also pertain to complex, philosophical structures. One of the interesting notions of the postmodern school of thought is that there is the possibility to get away from traditional notions of order and morality, a way to escape structured thought. Complexity, on the other hand, deals with the notion that all the parts of a system are indelibly tied to each other, preventing the system from collapse. Complexity seems to evade understanding, but you don’t have to understand a system for it to still work.

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116: The Emergence of Everything by Harold Morowitz

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116: Morowitz, Harold J. The Emergence of Everything: How the World Became Complex. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. 200 pp. ISBN 0-19-517331-7.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 100: Philosophy and Psychology
  • 110: Metaphysics
  • 116: Change

As soon as human beings became self-aware, they became universe-aware as well. While we seek to understand our place and our origins as individuals, we also have a need to explain the origin of all life and the universe as a whole. These are not easy questions, as they involves elements of many field of science and philosophy. Harold Morowitz, in The Emergence of Everything, lays out a fundamental structure for getting to the root of some of these questions by peering into the fields of cosmology, biology, physics, chemistry, and ultimately, theology.

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111: The Infinite Book by John D. Barrow

111.6: Barrow, John D. The Infinite Book: A Short Guide to the Boundless, Timeless and Endless. New York: Pantheon, 2005. 274 pp. ISBN 0-375-42227-7.

When you start reading about philosophy (100s), you have to start with the basics. Philosophy is study of general and fundamental problems, including existence, knowledge, language, and morality. But, before you talk about these things, you have to talk about what “things” are (and also what “talking” is), which is metaphysics. You also have to define what “is” is—this is the study of being, or ontology. One of the many fundamental questions of ontology is that of infinity; can you begin to discuss the idea of an infinite quantity?

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