Slavoj Žižek - Demanding the Impossible
Where are we today and what is to be done? Slavoj Zizek ponders these questions in this unique and timely book. Based on live interviews, the book captures Zizek at his irrepressible best, elucidating such topics as the uprisings of the Arab Spring, the global financial crisis, populism in Latin America, the rise of China and even the riddle of North Korea. Zizek dazzles readers with his analyses of Hollywood films, Venezuelan police reports, Swedish crime fiction and much else. Wherever the conversation turns, his energetic mind illuminates unexpected horizons. While analyzing our present predicaments, Zizek also explores possibilities for change. What sort of society is worth striving for? Why is it difficult to imagine alternative social and political arrangements? What are the bases for hope? A key obligation in our troubled times, argues Zizek, is to dare to ask fundamental questions: we must reflect and theorize anew, and always be prepared to rethink and redefine the limits of the possible. These original and compelling conversations offer an engaging and accessible introduction to one of the most important thinkers of our time.
Slavoj Žižek - Revolution at the Gates
The idea of a Lenin renaissance might well provoke an outburst of sarcastic laughter. Marx is OK, but Lenin? Doesn’t he stand for the big catastrophe which left its mark on the entire twentieth-century? Lenin, however, deserves wider consideration than this, and his writings of 1917 are testament to a formidable political figure. They reveal his ability to grasp the significance of an extraordinary moment in history. Everything is here, from Lenin-the-ingenious-revolutionary-strategist to Lenin-of-the-enacted-utopia. To use Kierkegaard’s phrase, what we can glimpse in these writings is Lenin-in-becoming: not yet Lenin-the-Soviet-institution, but Lenin thrown into an open, contingent situation. In Revolution at the Gates, Slavoj Žižek locates the 1917 writings in their historical context, while his afterword tackles the key question of whether Lenin can be reinvented in our era of “cultural capitalism.” Žižek is convinced that, whatever the discussion—the forthcoming crisis of capitalism, the possibility of a redemptive violence, the falsity of liberal tolerance—Lenin’s time has come again.
Matthew Arnold - Culture and Anarchy
My foremost design in writing this Preface is to address a word of exhortation to the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. In the essay which follows, the reader will often find Bishop Wilson quoted. To me and to the members of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge his name and writings are still, no doubt, familiar; but the world is fast going away from old-fashioned people of his sort, and I learnt with consternation lately from a brilliant and distinguished votary of the natural sciences, that he had never so much as heard of Bishop Wilson, and that he imagined me to have invented him. At a moment when the Courts of Law have just taken off the embargo from the recreative religion furnished on Sundays by my gifted acquaintance and others, and when St. Martin's Hall [iv] and the Alhambra will soon be beginning again to resound with their pulpit-eloquence, it distresses one to think that the new lights should not only have, in general, a very low opinion of the preachers of the old religion, but that they should have it without knowing the best that these preachers can do. And that they are in this case is owing in part, certainly, to the negligence of the Christian Knowledge Society. In old times they used to print and spread abroad Bishop Wilson's Maxims of Piety and Christianity; the copy of this work which I use is one of their publications, bearing their imprint, and bound in the well-known brown calf which they made familiar to our childhood; but the date of my copy is 1812. I know of no copy besides, and I believe the work is no longer one of those printed and circulated by the Society. Hence the error, flattering, I own, to me personally, yet in itself to be regretted, of the distinguished physicist already mentioned.
Alex Bandy - Chocolate and Chess
Chocolate and Chess is a Holocaust story with a twist that shocked even Elie Wiesel, a Cold War story, with spy vs. spy intrigue, an intellectual story and, alas, also very much a human story. It reads like a thriller, but it is the true tale of Imre Lakatos, the brilliant philosopher of the London School of Economics, who was a mystery to colleagues, friends and lovers - and to Britain's MI5. Surviving the Holocaust, he wanted to start anew and devoted his energies to building the Hungarian Communist Party. Surviving torture and incarceration by his comrades, he left for England for another fresh start. But the secret services of countries on both sides of the Cold War divide remained interested in him and England denied him citizenship despite the backing of esteemed colleagues like Karl Popper. Based on previously classified Western counterintelligence and Hungarian secret police archives, this book endeavors to fill gaps in the knowledge of both cognoscenti and counterspies.
Niccoló Machiavelli - The Prince
The most famous book on politics ever written, The Prince remains as lively and shocking today as when it was written almost five hundred years ago. Initially denounced as a collection of sinister maxims and a recommendation of tyranny, it has more recently been defended as the first scientific treatment of politics as it is practiced rather than as it ought to be practiced. Harvey C. Mansfield's brilliant translation of this classic work, along with the new materials added for this edition, make it the definitive version of The Prince, indispensable to scholars, students, and those interested in the dark art of politics. This revised edition of Mansfield's acclaimed translation features an updated bibliography, a substantial glossary, an analytic introduction, a chronology of Machiavelli's life, and a map of Italy in Machiavelli's time. "Of the other available [translations], that of Harvey C. Mansfield makes the necessary compromises between exactness and readability, as well as providing an excellent introduction and notes."—Clifford Orwin, The Wall Street Journal "Mansfield's work . . . is worth acquiring as the best combination of accuracy and readability."—Choice "There is good reason to assert that Machiavelli has met his match in Mansfield. . . . [He] is ready to read Machiavelli as he demands to be read—plainly and boldly, but also cautiously."—John Gueguen, The Sixteenth Century Journal
Thomas Hobbes - Leviathan
After the publication of his masterpiece of political theory, Leviathan, Or the Matter, and Power of Commonwealth Ecclesiastic and Civil, in 1651, opponents charged Thomas Hobbes with atheism and banned and burned his books. The English Parliament, in a search for scapegoats, even claimed that the theories found in Leviathan were a likely cause of the Plague of 1665 and the Great Fire of 1666. For the modern reader, though, Hobbes is more recognized for his popular belief that humanity's natural condition is a state of perpetual war, with life being "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." Despite frequent challenges by other philosophers, Leviathan's secular theory of absolutism no longer stands out as particularly objectionable. In the description of the organization of states, moreover, we see Hobbes as strikingly current in his use of concepts that we still employ today, including the ideas of natural law, natural rights, and the social contract. Based on this work, one could even argue that Hobbes created English-language philosophy, insofar as Leviathan was the first great philosophical work written in English and one whose impact continues to the present day.
Nathaniel Hawthorne - The Scarlet Letter
America’s first psychological novel, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter is a dark tale of love, crime, and revenge set in colonial New England. It revolves around a single, forbidden act of passion that forever alters the lives of three members of a small Puritan community: Hester Prynne, an ardent and fierce woman whobears the punishment of her sin in humble silence; the Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, a respected public figure who is inwardly tormented by long-hidden guilt; and the malevolent Roger Chillingworth, Hester’s husband—a man who seethes with an Ahab-like lust for vengeance. The landscape of this classic novel is uniquely American, but the themes it explores are universal—the nature of sin, guilt, and penitence, the clash between our private and public selves, and the spiritual and psychological cost of living outside society. Constructed with the elegance of a Greek tragedy, The Scarlet Letter brilliantly illuminates the truth that lies deep within the human heart.
Iris Murdoch - The Unicorn
When Marian Taylor takes a post as governess at Gaze Castle, a remote house upon a beautiful but desolate coast, she finds herself confronted with a number of weird mysteries and involved in a drama she only partly understands. Some crime or catastrophe in the past still keeps the house, like the castle of the Sleeping Beauty, under a spell, whose magic also touches the neighbouring house of Riders, inhabited by a scholarly recluse. Marian's employer, Hannah, and her retainers, seem to be acting out some tragic pattern: but it is not clear whether Hannah herself, the central figure, the Unicorn, is innocent victim or violent author, saint or witch... In a novel that has all the beauty of a fairy story and the melodrama of a Gothic tale, Murdoch explores the fantasies and ambiguities which beset those who are condemned to be passionately abandoned and yet hopelessly imperfect in their search for God.
Ismeretlen szerző - The Bhagavad Gita
_The_ _Bhagavad_ _Gita,_ a scintillating jewel embedded in the great Sanskrit epic Mahabharata, is a dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna set against the background of war. At the beginning of the poem, we learn that there is going to be a great war for the rule of a kingdom. On the battlefield, with armies of the Kuru clan ranged against each other, Arjuna and Krishna explore the necessity of war and the nature of the human soul. The eighteen chapters of the Bhagavad Gita encompass the whole spiritual struggle of a human soul, and the central themes of this immortal poem arise from the symphonic vision of God in all things and of all things in God.
Plato - The Last Days of Socrates
The trial and condemnation of Socrates on charges of heresy and corrupting young minds is a defining moment in the history of Classical Athens. In tracing these events through four dialogues, Plato also developed his own philosophy, based on Socrates' manifesto for a life guided by self-responsibility. Euthyphro finds Socrates outside the court-house, debating the nature of piety, while The Apology is his robust rebuttal of the charges of impiety and a defence of the philosopher's life. In the Crito, while awaiting execution in prison, Socrates counters the arguments of friends urging him to escape. Finally, in the Phaedo, he is shown calmly confident in the face of death, skilfully arguing the case for the immortality of the soul.
John Stuart Mill - On politics and society
Although he wrote extensively for fifty years, Mill's reputation as the philosopher of liberalism is largely based on three books published within a short space of five years: On liberty (1859); Considerations on representative government (1861); Utilitarianism (1863). Such a selective record offers a very partial view of Mill's scope as a political theorist, and one that largely ignores the restless and questioning approach which was central to his work. In John Stuart Mill on politics and society Geraint L. Williams provides a new selection from the whole range of Mill's political writings to present a comprehensive view both of the structure of Mill's thought and of the development of his political thinking from the 1820s to the 1870s.
Andy Warhol - The Philosophy of Andy Warhol
'I never think that people die. They just go to department stores.' Andy Warhol Andy Warhol - American painter, filmmaker, publisher, actor and major figure in the Pop Art movement - was in many ways a reluctant celebrity. Here, in his autobiography, he spills his secret and muses about love, sex, food, beauty, fame, work, money, success, New York and America and its place in the world. But it is his reflections on himself, his Pennsylvanian childhood and his life among celebrities, from working with Elizabeth Taylor to partying with the Rolling Stones, which give a true insight into the mind of one of the most iconic figures in twentieth-century culture.
John Gribbin - Deep Simplicity
'One is left feeling even more - if this is possible - filled with admiration for science and delight at the world it investigates' The world around us can be a complex, confusing place. Earthquakes happen without warning, stock markets fluctuate, weather forecasters seldom seem to get it right. How do we make sense of it all? John Gribbin reveals our seemingly random universe is actually built on simple laws of cause and effect that can explain why, for example, just one vehicle breaking down can cause a traffic jam; why wild storms are caused by a slight atmospheric change; even how we evolved from the most basic of materials. Like a Zen painting, a fractal image or the pattern on a butterfly's wings, simple elements form the bedrock of a sophisticated whole. Synthesising chaos and complexity theory for the perplexed, _Deep Simplicity_ brilliantly illuminates the harmony underlying our existence.
Samuel Johnson - The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia
In Samuel Johnson’s classic philosophical tale, the prince and princess of Abissinia escape their confinement in the Happy Valley and conduct an ultimately unsuccessful search for a choice of life that leads to happiness. Johnson uses the conventions of the Oriental tale to depict a universal restlessness of desire. The excesses of Orientalism—its superfluous splendours, its despotic tyrannies, its riotous pleasures—cannot satisfy us. His tale challenges us by showing the problem of finding happiness to be insoluble while still dignifying our quest for fulfillment.
Stephen W. Hawking - Leonard Mlodinow - The Grand Design
The three central questions of philosophy and science: Why is there something rather than nothing? Why do we exist? Why this particular set of laws and not some other? No one can make a discussion of such matters as compulsively readable as the celebrated University of Cambridge cosmologist Hawking (A Brief History of Time). Along with Caltech physicist Mlodinow (The Drunkard's Walk), Hawking deftly mixes cutting-edge physics to answer those key questions. For instance, why do we exist? Earth occupies a "Goldilocks Zone" in space: just the perfect distance from a not-too-hot star, with just the right elements to allow life to evolve. On a larger scale, in order to explain the universe, the authors write, "we need to know not only how the universe behaves, but why." While no single theory exists yet, scientists are approaching that goal with what is called "M-theory," a collection of overlapping theories (including string theory) that fill in many (but not all) the blank spots in quantum physics; this collection is known as the "Grand Unified Field Theories." This may all finally explain the mystery of the universe's creation without recourse to a divine creator. This is an amazingly concise, clear, and intriguing overview of where we stand when it comes to divining the secrets of the universe.
Stephen W. Hawking - A Brief History of Time
Brief History of Time, published in 1988, was a landmark volume in science writing and in world-wide acclaim and popularity, with more than 9 million copies in print globally. The original edition was on the cutting edge of what was then known about the origins and nature of the universe. But the ensuing years have seen extraordinary advances in the technology of observing both the micro - and the macrocosmic world - observations that have confirmed many of Hawking's theoretical predictions in the first edition of his book. Now a decade later, this edition updates the chapters throughout to document those advances, and also includes an entirely new chapter on Wormholes and Time Travel and a new introduction. It make vividly clear why A Brief History of Time has transformed our view of the universe.
Thomas Metzinger - The Ego Tunnel
Consciousness, mind, brain, self: the relations among these four entities are explored by German cognitive scientist and theoretical philosopher Metzinger, who argues that, in fact, there is no such thing as a self. In prose accessible mainly to those schooled in philosophy and science, Metzinger defines the ego as the phenomenal self, which knows the world experientially as it subjectively appear[s] to you. But neuroscientific experiments have demonstrated, among other things, that the unitary sense of self is a subjective representation: for instance, one can be fooled into feeling sensations in a detached artificial arm. So the author argues that the ego is a tunnel that bores into reality and limits what you can see, hear, smell and feel. Metzinger tests his theory by ranging over events of the consciousness such as out-of-body experiences, lucid dreaming and free will, and he concludes by probing ethical actions and what a good state of consciousness would look like. Most readers will have difficulty penetrating Metzinger's ideas, and those who do will find little that is genuinely new.
Philip K. Dick - The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
"A great and calamitous sequence of arguments with the universe: poignant, terrifying, ludicrous, and brilliant. The Exegesis is the sort of book associated with legends and madmen, but Dick wasn’t a legend and he wasn’t mad. He lived among us, and was a genius."—Jonathan Lethem Based on thousands of pages of typed and handwritten notes, journal entries, letters, and story sketches, The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick is the magnificent and imaginative final work of an author who dedicated his life to questioning the nature of reality and perception, the malleability of space and time, and the relationship between the human and the divine. Edited and introduced by Pamela Jackson and Jonathan Lethem, this will be the definitive presentation of Dick’s brilliant, and epic, final work. In The Exegesis, Dick documents his eight-year attempt to fathom what he called "2-3-74," a postmodern visionary experience of the entire universe "transformed into information." In entries that sometimes ran to hundreds of pages, Dick tried to write his way into the heart of a cosmic mystery that tested his powers of imagination and invention to the limit, adding to, revising, and discarding theory after theory, mixing in dreams and visionary experiences as they occurred, and pulling it all together in three late novels known as the VALIS trilogy. In this abridgment, Jackson and Lethem serve as guides, taking the reader through the Exegesis and establishing connections with moments in Dick’s life and work.
William Irwin - Downton Abbey and Philosophy
Who can resist the lure of Downton Abbey and the triumphs and travails of the Crawley family and its servants? We admire Bates's sense of honor, envy Carson's steadfastness, and thrill to Violet's caustic wit. Downton Abbey and Philosophy draws on some of history's most profound philosophical minds to delve deeply into the dilemmas that confront our favorite characters. Was Matthew right to push Mary away after his injury in the war? Would Lord Grantham have been justified in blocking Lady Sybil's marriage to Tom Branson? And is Thomas really such a bad person?
Thomas Cathcart - Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar - Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes
Outrageously funny, Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar . . . has been a breakout bestseller ever since authors—and born vaudevillians—Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein did their schtick on NPR’s Weekend Edition. Lively, original, and powerfully informative, Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar . . . is a not-so-reverent crash course through the great philosophical thinkers and traditions, from Existentialism (What do Hegel and Bette Midler have in common?) to Logic (Sherlock Holmes never deduced anything). Philosophy 101 for those who like to take the heavy stuff lightly, this is a joy to read—and finally, it all makes sense!