Reading Notes 5/23/14

On a whim, I started reading an excerpt of Kripke’s ‘Rules and Private Language’. Actually, it wasn’t a whim, I was reading Wittgenstein and remembered that I had a volume on philosophy of language which included Kripke. Anyway, it’s the excerpt where he breaks down his ‘plus and quus’ argument, and it’s pretty interesting, and surprisingly well-written and readable. It reminded me of Hume, actually, only with language instead of causality, and then lo and behold, he compares his skeptical argument to those of Hume. This was the first time I’d read Kripke, and I was quite impressed by how enjoyable it was. I realized, however, that I need to purchase ‘Philosophical Investigations’.

Over this last week I reread Timothy Ferris’ ‘Coming of Age in the Milky Way’ which is a history of astronomy and cosmology, from ziggarauts to string theory. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read and certainly ranks as one of the most accessible history/exposition of science volume I’ve read – Ferris can break down complex ideas in a way that is purely delightful reading. His expositions of quantum physics in the latter parts of the book are probably as good as you’re going to find anywhere, and I found the chapter on Darwin to be an outstanding breakdown of Darwin, the man, and his ideas. In my opinion, the greatest strength of the book is the detailed and anecdote-filled accounts of the lives of the great scientists – Ptolemy, Archimedes, Kepler, Brahe, Darwin, Newton, Einstein, Gell-Mann, etc – which, to repeat myself, are purely delightful. Please, buy this book.

I also re-read Jaki’s ‘Road of Science and the Ways to God’ – which is my personal favourite book on science/metaphysics/philosophy of science. Jaki is a penetrating thinker, leading you from China, to Greece, to Copenhagen and back again as he examines all the major developments in the history of science. The medievals, Bacon, Hobbes, Descartes, Fichte, Hume, Kant, Newton, Maxwell, Planck, Einstein, Bohr, Comte are all decisively critiqued, some ruthlessly, some less so, as Jaki argues for moderate realism – of all the books I own, this is my number one.

Gilson’s account of Ockham and nominalism in ‘The Unity of Philosophical Experience’ is brilliant – I highly recommend purchasing that book, if only for that section and the breakdown/critique of Kant, which remains the best exposition of Kant I’ve been able to find.  As an account of metaphysics, this volume ranks as one of the greats.

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4 thoughts on “Reading Notes 5/23/14

  1. SamL May 23, 2014 / 8:05 am

    Nice. I read Naming and Necessity recently and was also pleasantly surprised by how much fun Kripke is to read. Been meaning to grab a copy of Rules and Private Language – thanks for the reminder.

    Sam

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    • whitefrozen May 23, 2014 / 8:09 am

      I’d like to read ‘N&N’. I’ve been hesitant to, since, you know, I’m less than thrilled with analytic philosophy of language, but Kripke appears to at least have the decency to write in a readable way. Oddly enough, I feel the same about Frege, but I get the feeling I’m alone in that.

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      • SamL May 23, 2014 / 10:37 am

        I’d recommend it, it’s highly lucid. Really gives a good account of how to separate the necessary/contingent distinction from the a priori/a posteriori distinction. Frege is someone I’ve never read in the flesh, as it were. Might give him a whirl someday.

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        • whitefrozen May 23, 2014 / 10:52 am

          Hey, whaddya know, my phil of language sourcebook has an excerpt from N&N. I’ll dig in. RE Frege, I recommend his essay, ‘The Thought’, which is just a stellar example of great philosophy.

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