Philosophy

Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?

Date Reviewed

Review

Author Frans de Waal answers the question in the title early and in the affirmative. This is the latest offering of the animal behaviouralist, whose book 'The Bonobo and the Atheist' is profiled on this site.

But in this book, the scope of his insights and observations is broader. And maybe more importantly, his political challenge is more pointed. Those who still insist on measuring animals capabilities against those of humans in a human context have to deal with a twist.

The Philosophical Baby:What Children's Minds Tell us about Truth, Love and the Meanings of Life

Date Reviewed

This book is more developmental psychology than philosophy, but it certainly offers thinking points. At the age of 10, author Alison Gopnik was reading Plato and questioning his thought. So it may be no surprise that as an adult, while giving answers, she is asking questions from various perspectives. Through this book I have come to quite like the author and the way she combines thought, ideas, science and personal observations.

Tools and Weapons: The Promise and the Peril of the Digital Age

Date Reviewed

 

This book urges readers to beware, but not despair about the threats, dangers and complexities that accompany the rewards of the expanding opportunities of pervasive data.

 

Then the author proceeds to go though the history of reasons to despair and then some suggestions for how the dangers may be mitigated.

 

Although two authors are credited for the book, the entirety is in the voice of Smith, a lawyer by training and the president of Microsoft.

 

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power

Date Reviewed

 

 

Many years ago in one of my university courses, the professor prefaced his presentation of an essay with, “I am a retailer of knowledge. This writer is a primary producer of knowledge.”

 

I am not certain, but I think it was an essay by the political economist Joseph Schumpter. By about the sixth read through, I had tamed the piece to a 'difficult read'. Before that it was mostly opaque, with ideas I hadn't encountered and words I hadn't seen used in that context.

 

The Future is Asian

Date Reviewed

 

 

'The Future is Asian' by Parag Khanna is a comprehensive book reflecting the size and complexity of Asia and how inclusive he is in portraying it. The Arctic, Israel, Japan and Australia/New Zealand are on the margins of Khanna's Asia.

 

I would put this book in the top half dozen of the best in the last 100 I have read. Without excusing 'bad behaviour in western eyes' the author tries, and succeeds to a large extent, to explain it, and the characters involved, in an illuminating way.

 

The Prehistory of the Mind:the Cognitive origins of Art Religion and Science

Date Reviewed
Category


‘The Prehistory of the Mind:the Cognitive origins of Art Religion and Science’ by Steven Mithen deals with the evolution of the human mind from the common ancestor with the apes six million years ago to the most modern humans who appeared sometime between 100,000 and 50,000 years ago.

 

 

 

The author is a British archaeologist.