Internet Goosing the Antithesis

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The Holy Books of Rational Individualism

The Logical Structure of Objectivism, by David Kelley, is a book with a deceptive title, since 5 chapters out of 7 are about morality. I consider this to be the bible of realist morality. And it looks like it'll always be available on the Internet for free - it is perpetually under revision. Because it is a book of deductions primarily, I use it as a reference guide first and foremost.

"Our lives are long-term projects, and our most important values are long-term values that can support life over its full length, values like wealth, friendship, a career, and so on. But because the present is directly before us, and because perceptual experience is our most realistic and direct form of awareness, short-range goals and immediate pleasures can seem more salient and feel more tempting than long-term values do. Our daily lives present us with a multiplicity of decisions about what values to seek or forgo in the short-term, but we need to make those decisions with an eye to life as a whole, not merely what is right before us."

Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder, by Richard Dawkins. If LSO is the realist's bible, this book is its hymnal. Dawkins' radical materialism, his love of science, and his European appreciation for the esthetic come together to form a powerful praise of all that is realist.

"Isn't it a noble, an enlightened way of spending our brief time in the sun, to work at understanding the universe and how we have come to wake up in it? This is how I answer when I am asked-- as I am surprisingly often-- why I bother to get up in the mornings. To put it the other way around, isn't it sad to go to your grave without ever wondering why you were born?"

Atheism: A Philosophical Justification, by Michael Martin, is the equivalent of, although to be fair it is vastly superior to, the works of Plantinga or Aquinas. It presents us with powerful negative and positive arguments, as well as a sophisticated examination of theological arguments and objections. While I think that it would have benefitted from more depth, it is an overview for anyone seriously interested in the issues.

Atheism: The Case Against God, by George Smith, is more of an introductory level counterpart to Martin's book. But I must praise its extensive examination of theological noncognitivism as being groundbreaking.

"If the Christian wishes to use positive characteristics for God while retaining their meaning, he must reduce his God to a manlike or anthropomorphic level. On the other hand, if these predicates do not mean the same when applied to God as they do when applied to natural entities, then they assume some unknown, mysterious meaning and are virtually emptied of their significance."

"Explicit atheism is the consequence of a commitment to rationality--the conviction that man's mind is fully confident to know the facts of reality, and that no aspect of the universe is closed to rational scrutiny. Atheism is merely a corollary, a specific application, of one's commitment to reason."

Dying to Live: Near-Death Experiences, by Susan Blackmore. This is the realist's Book of the Dead. Blackmore discusses the various characteristics of NDEs with studies on hand and exemplary scholarship. Just on that alone it would be well worth its price, but to me it's the last chapters, on the nature of the self, that make it something more.

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At 1/09/2006 7:32 PM, Blogger Aaron Kinney declaimed...

You know what book I really like? Its Called "Atheism: A Reader" and it is edited by S.T. Joshi.

What it is is a compilation of selected essays and other works from some very big names. I think Joshi selected some excellent writings and it serves as a great intro book to atheism as well as a good reference to lots of issues and of course the writings of some very influential and famous thinkers.



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