Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Category: 140s

149: The Rationalists

DDC_149

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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140: The Universe Next Door by James W. Sire

DDC_140

140: Sire, James W. The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog, 3rd Ed. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1997. 200 pp. ISBN 0-8308-1849-6.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 100: Philosophy and Psychology
  • 140: Specific philosophical schools and viewpoints

James Sire caught me with my proverbial pants down (so to say) with his Universe Next Door. Ostensibly, it goes through the six to ten (depending on how you count and group them) major philosophical schools and examines each one for strengths and flaws. He indeed covers the whole spectrum, from theism to nihilism to naturalism to existentialism to postmodernism. And his dutiful explanations of each school are decent; I’ll give him that. But sadly, it’s the last chapter that wallops you on the side of the head. After a competent exploration of the world of philosophy, he dumps all but one into a bucket labelled “Not Worth Your Time.” The conclusion he brings the book to is to that to live a “well-examined” life, one must be a Christian theist. That left a sour taste in my mouth. That is not to say that Christian theism isn’t a worthy worldview for some people. But simply dismissing billions of people as not living a good life is both insulting and deflating. If you must read this one, stop just before the end—trust me, you’ll feel a lot better about it.

 

148: First Principles by Donald Foy

DDC_148

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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146: Darwin’s Dangerous Idea by Daniel C. Dennett

146.7: Dennett, Daniel C. Darwin’s Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life. New York: Touchstone, 1996. 521 pp. ISBN 0-684-8241-X.

Dewey Construction:

  • 100: Philosophy and Psychology
  • 140: Philosophical schools of thought
  • 146: Naturalism and related systems and doctrines
  • 146.7: Evolutionism and process philosophy

What is the meaning of life? That question will get as many answers as there are people on the planet. It’s a heady subject. For this and many other reasons, the Dewey Classification had plenty of subject sections for philosophy and schools of thought. Naturalism—today’s subject—concerns the philosophy that nothing exists beyond the natural (and perceptual) universe. According to this doctrine, there are no supernatural laws, no outside mythical forces, and no “purposes” to nature per se. Seems like fun…

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