March 4, 2011


Hubert Dreyfus & Sean Dorrance Kelly, All Shining Things: Reading the Western Classics to Find Meaning in a Secular Age (New York: The Free Press, 2011) ("But improvements of technology are impoverishments as well. The GPS covers over the meaningful distinction that the art of skilled navigation revealed. To the extent that technology strips away the need for skill, it strips away the possibility of meaning as well. To have a skill is to know what counts or is worthwhile in a certain domain. Skills reveal meaningful differences to us and cultivate in us a sense of responsibility to bring these out at their best. To the extent that it takes away the need for skill, technology flattens out human life." Id. at 213.).

Bernard-Henri Levy & Michel Houellebecq, Public Enemies: Dueling Writers Take on Each Other and the World, translated from the French by Miriam Frendo & Frank Wynne (New York: Random House, 2011).

James Miller, Examined Lives: From Socrates to Nietzsche (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2011) ("Here, then, are brief lives of a handful of philosophers, ancient and modern: Socrates and Plato, Diogenes and Aristotle, Seneca and Augustine, Montaigne and Descartes, Rousseau and Kant, Emerson and Nietzsche. They are all men, because philosophy before the twentieth century was overwhelmingly a vocation reserved for men: a large fact that has limited the kinds of lives--stubbornly independent, often unattached, sometime solitary and sexless--that philosophers have tended to lead. Within these common limits, however, there has been considerable variation. Some philosophers were influential figures in their day, while others were marginal; some were revered, while other provoked scandal and public outrage." "Despite such differences, each of these men prized the pursuit of wisdom. Each one struggled to live his life according to a deliberately chosen set of precepts and beliefs, discerned in part through a practice of self-examination, and expressed in both word and deed. The life of each one can therefore teach us something about the quest for self-knowledge and its limits. And as a whole, they can tell us a great deal about how the nature of philosophy--and the nature of philosophy as a way of life--has changed over time." Id. at 14-15.).