Utilitarianism – A Book Review

“It is better to be a human being dissatisfed than a pig satisfied.” – John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism

Mill has one hell of an opening for his now immortalized book Utilitarianism: not only does he claim that there exists a single infrastructure, as it were, upon which the entire superstructure of morality sits, but that this single “first principle” has been self-evident throughout our entire history. For these thousands of years in which we’ve argued over moral philosophy, hungering insatiably for a guiding principle which will let us be certain, moral beings, it has been right there, so he claims, dangling before our faces. Within the first few pages, the pressure is on—and Mill delivers.

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Euthyphro – A Book Review

A peculiar man, one of stocky build and bulging eyes, once walked the streets Athens. A group of eager young men trailed behind him like ducklings, waiting for him to choose his next prey. This man was Socrates, who wandered the streets of Athens in search of its “experts,” be them of religious, legal, or intellectual matters. Upon finding them, he would inflate them with fawning and praise before very gently and very politely bringing them to the conclusion that they know nothing of their trade. Among these eager ducklings was a young man named Plato. He was not yet known, but these debates would lead him down an intellectual rabbit hole from which he would forever change the world. Continue reading “Euthyphro – A Book Review”

Outliers: The Story of Success – A Book Review

What if I were to tell you that the most successful men and women were not so because they were the best and the brightest–that all of our favorite rags-to-riches stories were incomplete and misleading? Well, our author, Malcolm Gladwell, is convinced that this is true, and he makes a moderately convincing case.

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The Language Instinct – A Book Review

“Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana” – Anthony Oettinger

The above quote is often attributed to the absurdly witty Groucho Marx, and who would second guess it? The man gave us English-exploiting jokes like, “Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read,” and, “I once shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in them, I’ll never know.” The true author of this quote, however, is Anthony Oettinger, a linguist and computer scientist who, in the 1960s, tried to make an artificial intelligence that could comprehend English sentences.

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The Murderer Next Door: Why Our Minds are Designed to Kill – A Book Review

“We foist evil onto other things, too frightened to admit it is within us.” – C.G. Jung

In this riveting summary of his scientific findings, evolutionary psychologist David M. Buss asserts, quite convincingly, that previous theories on murder “simply don’t hold up.” I’m sure you’ve heard interviews on the news discussing the motive for a murderer’s crime: some claim it’s violent video games, a disconnect with religion, insanity, poor parenting, and so on and so forth. Those who claim murder has its origins in violent television shows, movies, and video games cannot explain why Continue reading “The Murderer Next Door: Why Our Minds are Designed to Kill – A Book Review”