Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Tag: philosophy

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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707: A World Art History and Its Objects by David Carrier


707.22: Carrier, David. A World Art History and Its Objects. University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania University Press, 2008. 154 pp.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 700: Fine Art and Recreation
  • 707: Education, research, and related topics of fine and decorative arts
  • 707.22: Collected treatment

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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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511: Mathematical Fallacies and Paradoxes by Bryan Bunch


511.3: Bunch, Bryan. Mathematical Fallacies and Paradoxes. Mineola, NY: Dover, 1997. 210 pp. ISBN 0-486-29664-4.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 500: Science
  • 510: Mathematics
  • 511: General principles of mathematics
  • 511.3: Mathematical logic

About every month or so, diagrams go around social media proving various paradoxes. From proving 2 = 3, or that certain infinite series converge to -1/12, these proofs often use fallacious logic or hidden steps to achieve their ends. Bryan Bunch’s Mathematical Fallacies and Paradoxes collects eight such examples to help broaden our understanding of both logic and math. Be wary, though, this is not for the faint heart.

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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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