History, Literature, Philosophy, Reviews.

Swerving into modernity

Book Book Review, Title The Swerve, Author Stephen Greenblatt, Rating 4.0,

The Swerve

Stephen Greenblatt

Book Review

Stephen Greenblatt's book The Swerve: How the World Became Modern is an excellent tale of the influence of Epicurus on the modern way of thinking. Epicurus spoke of change in terms of a 'swerve'; the author's allusion to a swerve otherwise is to the narrow and chance survival during the Renaissance of Lucretius' poem De Rerum Natura, a rumination and celebration of all things Epicurean, and whose influence in subsequent Western thought represents a giant swerve in cosmology, religion and natural philosophy away from Plato and Aristotle and towards Epicurus.

Essays, Philosophy, Religion.

Hope against hope: Immortality and illusion

Shortly after my father-in-law Burt died, Christopher Hitchens, the contrarian and atheist, announced that he had been diagnosed with an incurable disease. There was a good deal of response in the media , much of it around the idea that Hitchens subscribed to no hopeful or immortal view of his afterlife. Many asked: should one pray for him, given that he did not believe in any religion? Should he go against his life-long atheism and embrace the "life-enhancing illusion" of the soul's immortality before he dies?
Observations, Philosophy.

Mother Teresa’s advice

Many years ago, my wife gave me a copy of some simple advice Mother Teresa had written regarding how to live well.  I love the sentiments, although I find them personally very challenging to follow on a daily basis; I don't always live up to them, but I keep them visible as gentle reminders of how to be a good human being. An example:

"People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered; Forgive them anyway.

Family, Memoirs, Philosophy.

Burt Ferguson Remembered: words, words, words

My father-in-law Burt died recently, and before he died, Burt and I spent many hours talking about language, history and philosophy, his great passions. Burt spent more time reading than any other of his pastimes. He was a serious reader, meaning both that he read carefully, and that he read very little fiction or humor, but focused on more sober subjects. One of the most powerful and recurring memories that his children have of him is Burt sitting in his den, reading and taking notes. This habit continued into his last days; Burt spent much of his retirement hours in his den engrossed in reading about his favorite subjects.