Thursday, March 31, 2016

Book Review: The Will to Doubt

‘The Will to Doubt’, by Alfred H. Lloyd is an essay addressed to the general reader, or rather to the general thinker. Like the declaration by a great philosopher, Schopenhauer that man walks only by saving himself at every step from a fall, this book places doubt, as an essential element of ones belief. How, we continue reasserting our beliefs by constantly getting our doubts answered.
In introduction, author mentions the present times as the age of doubt.  The next chapter, The Confession of Doubt, examines the confession of doubt, of our doubt, and other aspects like how doubt is necessary to life, while explaining how, humans came to be dependent on one another as they are ‘universal doubters’. Difficulty in the ordinary view of things is explored next, as a variation between the physical or of the substance of matter, and, the ideal or of the substance of mind or spirit. When we come to next chapter, The View of Science: its Rise and Consequent, the author states of the challenge: “To understand and appraise the view of science we must trace its rise as clearly as we can, and then critically examine its peculiar conceits, its own ideal methods and attitudes”. Which is the theme of the coming chapter, Character V, the author, comparing how, tracks which limit the locomotive to a certain course are essential to its successful movement, mentions of the need for something of the same kind, in respect of science. Hence, he continues, we have attributed certain characteristics or limitations for science, giving rise to, The Objective nature of Science, How Science is Specialized, and Why not Science would not be Agnostic. Nature of experience it self is analyzed next. It is truly and essentially social, the book proclaims, no individual was meant to dwell alone, which is the trigger of an unperturbed brotherly love, and of a quiet life. An essential defect of experience, a doubt, must be for something good, the author exclaims, and goes on to examine the possible worth of the original defects of experience. The author concludes with projecting Descartes as the finest doubter in history, whose famous words Dubito, cogito; ergo sum. I doubt, I think; I as doubter and thinker am, places doubt in its prime position.

This book, though is a tough one to read, is a scholarly discourse on many aspects of common logic. The author has found the unmistakable presence of doubt as an integral part of our social history. “To come down to more recent times, for open belief in what they doubted, for doubt well controlled in its expenditure, for doubt as raising questions of meaning rather than the more radical questions of reality and existence, perhaps no people of Christendom has been so conspicuous as the English.” Is nothing but an acknowledgement that the questioning nature of the British was greatly relevant in forming the British Empire. Throughout the book, he presents a strong case for doubt as the initiator of every good thing the world went through, every sage the world has listened to reach in the end, five demonstrated facts: (1) We are all universal doubters. (2) Doubt is essential to all consciousness. (3) Even habit, though confidence be the horse, has doubt sitting up behind. (4) Like pain or ignorance, doubt is a condition of real life. (5) And the sense of dependence, so general to human nature, gives rise to doubt, although also, like misery, it always seeks company--the company of nature, of man, of God. By proclaiming that we believe through our doubts; we believe, not in something apart, but in the very things we doubt, the author places this as an essential feature of our existence. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


‘GOVERNMENT FOR A NEW TOMORROW’ by Anthony Horn begins with a thought provoking remark, that political parties always represent the extremes of opinion, which always is the view, of only a negligible few. The book tries to identify the problems of tomorrow, and examines sustainability, complexity, shortage of resources, and the others.  Author notes, as estimated by scientists, while the world is busy adapting to Western levels of consumption (as they are rapidly doing), the resources of four planet Earths will be required to support the population. At the same time, people can and want to throw off oppressive regimes. The present balance of international trade also is under threat, even though China is the largest lender of USA, it continues to get foreign aid from US. In search of a root cause, the book identifies that the various symptoms that we presently mistake as the cause for world problems, like overpopulation, needs to be examined further.
While examining human history from the very beginning, author finds that humans, abandoning their groups and communities, joined in favor of subservience and bondage to a larger body (powerful rulers, government). That was by believing a lie, that all our questions will be taken care of, and we will have nothing to worry about. We have been living in an artificial existence since then, and time is coming now to group ourselves according to our natural propensity. The author proposes concrete steps for achieving this, both for the United States and for rest of the world.
A set of questions and answers is provided in the book to further elaborate the proposal clearly, while answering many of the questions of its implementation.

I find, as the author has pointed out at many places in this book, the most significant problem facing modern communities, whether in governance, distribution of resources, meeting the needs of people, or of survival, is the alarming rise of world population. The author attributes this to our ‘unsuccessful’ living. He has a point I think. The increase in population is giving us a false sense of success, effectively barring us from realizing our failures. While reading the book, mainly owing to the nonconformist ideas encountered at each flip, I could find myself saddled with a lot of questions. The author foresaw this I think; an extensive set of questions and answers found at the end of the book was greatly helpful in clearing many of those. This book left me with a lot to think, after I closed the back cover.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Book Review: Stumbling on Happiness

‘Stumbling on Happiness’ by DANIEL GILBERT has the author wondering at the remarkable achievements of human brain. In Part I, the author identifies ‘making future’ as one of its main business and, along with the other feature of anticipating future, how, the impacts from unpleasant events are minimized. In Part II and part III of this book is found, an exploration into the science of happiness. How we beautifully steer ourselves toward the futures that we think will make us happy. Sometimes our journey takes us to unseen horizons, using our imaginations to look into time. Just as our eyes sometimes lead us to see things as they are not, our imaginations sometimes lead us to foresee things as they will not be. The shortcomings of imagination that give rise to the illusion of foresight are dealt in this book. When we come to Part IV, one of the principal causes of dismay, the wide difference between the products of imagination and the results of reality is analyzed, and how we adjust to our shortcoming in imagination. Thereafter in Part V, another major difficulty for we humans, how to reconcile with actual present, while maintaining that we are highly imaginative, is put to test. If we have trouble foreseeing future events, then we have even more trouble foreseeing how we will see them when they happen. Finally, in Part VI illusions of foresight are examined. Like why we remember our previous mistakes more often than our appropriate responses, just because mistakes were unusual. As our ability to simulate future selves and future circumstances is by no means perfect, and as we imagine future feelings, we find it impossible to ignore what we are feeling now and impossible to recognize how we will think about the things that happen later, we end up stumbling on happiness.
This is an interesting book, a page turner. Witty observations, interesting narratives and sharp, incisive comments make this an engaging one.  For example, about futuristic literature, the author says, If you leaf through a few of them, you quickly notice that each of these books says more about the times in which it was written than about the times it was meant to foretell”. A rich collection of anecdotes and real life stories enliven the ambience. I could notice one thing protruding, though the author mentions in the book that certain corrective measures are suggested to improve our ability to predict correctly, the relevant discussion could have touched these issues a little more deeply.

Thoroughly enjoyable and informative.

Sunday, March 27, 2016


‘SELECTIONS FROM THE PRINCIPLES OF PHILOSOPHY’ by DESCARTES begins by according philosophy, high status, as the science of wisdom. The book also says, “in order to seek truth, it is necessary once in the course of our life, to doubt, as far as possible, all things.” The author divides the whole work into four parts, the first of which contains the principles of human knowledge, and which may be called the First Philosophy, or Metaphysics. The other three parts contain all that is most general in Physics, namely, the explication of the first laws or principles of nature, and the way in which the heavens, the fixed stars, the planets, comets, and generally the whole universe, were composed; in the next place, the explication, in particular, of the nature of this earth, the air, water, fire, the magnet, which are the bodies we most commonly find everywhere around it, and of all the qualities we observe in these bodies, as light, heat, gravity, and the like.

The complete book is in fact made up of about 207 independent paragraphs, each dealing with one specific question. Like “Why we may also doubt of mathematical demonstrations?”, What thought (COGITATIO) is, and why, I think, is superior to other expressions like, I see, or, I walk. Who can fail to notice the beauty in his reasoning? For example, see his treatment of errors, “The chief cause of our errors is to be found in the prejudices of our childhood. The second cause of our errors is that we cannot forget these prejudices. The third cause is, that we become fatigued by attending to those objects which are not present to the senses; and that we are thus accustomed to judge of these not from present perception but from pre-conceived opinion. The fourth source of our errors is, that we attach our thoughts to words which do not express them with accuracy”, or his assessment of the material world, where he says, “the perceptions of the senses do not teach us what is in reality in things, but what is beneficial or hurtful to the composite whole of mind and body”. I found the ideas quite illuminating, and the book as a whole, an excellent read. The book ended with another declaration that the author “desires no one to believe anything that may have been said, unless he is constrained to admit it by the force and evidence of reason”.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

A Thorough Review of The Unsure Male

A exhaustive review of my work 'The Unsure Male' is published by Author Ingrid Hall.
"...While I didn’t completely agree with all the topics presented in the book, there were several areas that made complete sense. The Unsure Male presents topics that should be further discussed. In other ways, it also helps to explain how people act in different ways."
Short link:

Monday, March 21, 2016

Man can't find what is good for him, but as men, they however do

I Published another Hub!

All that is unpleasant with our world can also be traced to the agitation we continuously cause to the world, either due to  the efforts each one of us take to show their intelligence or, the struggle we as groups take to counter that. Is it that our idea about intelligense is wrong? Published a hub on this topic

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Some More Reviews...

‘An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals’ By David Hume begins with a general discussion on morals, in which the author specifies: 'The end of all moral speculations is to teach us our duty; and, by proper representations of the deformity of vice and beauty of virtue, beget correspondent habits, and engage us to avoid the one, and embrace the other.’ Thereafter continues enquiry on this head, beginning with the consideration of the social virtues, Benevolence and Justice.  Many of the most used epithets belong to this, author says, like SOCIABLE, GOOD-NATURED, HUMANE, MERCIFUL, GRATEFUL, FRIENDLY, GENEROUS, or BENEFICENT. The author observes that social virtues are nothing but moral distinctions that arise from education, and were, at first, invented, and afterwards encouraged, by the art of governance, in order to render men polite, pliable and well mannered, and subdue their natural ferocity and selfishness, which could have caused hindrance to society. While examining the practice of morals by society, Hume observes a great difference between the way society deals with male and female on these aspects. If a man behaves with cowardice on one occasion, a contrary conduct reinstates him in his character. But if a woman forgets chastity, the greatest regard that can be acquired by that sex, by what action can the woman be reinstated to glory? Once her behavior has been dissolute, how can she assure us, that she has become her former respectable self?
In the chapter titled Qualities Immediately Agreeable To Ourselves, the degree of utility (or the lack of it) of each of these is discussed. For example where a man has no sense of value in himself, we are not likely to have any higher esteem of him. And ‘if the same person, who crouches to his superiors, is insolent to his inferiors (as often happens), this contrariety of behavior, instead of correcting the former vice, aggravates it extremely by the addition of a vice still more odious’. Next chapter, Qualities Immediately Agreeable To Others, examines those qualities that produce pleasure, because they are useful to society, or useful or agreeable to the person himself. Many of these are conventions, which could vary from society to society. For example, author says, ‘A Spaniard goes out of his own house before his guest, to signify that he leaves him master of all. In other countries, the landlord walks out last, as a common mark of deference and regard.’
He mentions that such principles, like, that all BENEVOLENCE is mere hypocrisy, friendship a cheat, public spirit a farce, fidelity a snare to procure trust and confidence; and that while all of us, at bottom, pursue only our private interest, we wear these fair disguises, in order to put others off their guard, and expose them the more to our wiles and machinations, or, that the most generous friendship, however sincere, is a modification of self-love, exist in society. He then goes on to argue, supporting their just existence.
Apart from other virtues is origin and nature of Justice, the author says, and marks out some differences. Like the importance of correct application of justice, whereby, a blemish, a fault, a vice, a crime is dealt differently, awarding them with different degrees of censure and disapprobation.
This is an eye opening book, it made me more aware of the unseen areas of social controls and desires. Virtues, desirable qualities of each one of us, though he says has a common origin, vices need not make a man anything other than a just object of regard and compassion: his betrayers alone deserve hatred and contempt. We can see here some of the hallmarks of modern justice. 

‘70 Of The Most Motivational Quotes You Will Ever Find’ Compiled by Matthew Roberts of is a unique collection. One might have come across almost all intelligent quotes in this book, but in a different form, but what makes this a delectable one is the joy of seeing all those in a different light. For example, I know, there is no short cut to success, but it was nice to know that ‘there is no short cuts to anywhere worth going’. Seek, you shall find, people used to exhort, but this book quietly tells me, ‘you do not find what you do not seek’. Great expectations, I always wanted entertain, but I never realized its great significance, as I did when I read ‘seldom does an individual exceed his own expectations.’
On the whole this is an enjoyable set, tastefully compiled. I have studied few of them by heart and I find them useful to draw attention.

‘Famous Men of the Middle Ages’ By  J. H. Haaren and A. B. Poland chronicles the time when the power of Rome was broken and tribes of barbarians who lived north of the Danube and the Rhine took possession of lands that had been part of the Roman Empire. Rise of Goths, Huns, Attila defeating the Roman Emperor Theodosius, Theodoric and the rise of Ostrogoths and the rule by Clovis are described. The reign of Justinian the Great, the rise of Islam, Charlemagne and going up to William the Conqueror, the book continue, narrating the main events of Europe. Peter the Hermit and the crusades, Kingdoms in France, Germany and Russia as well as the reign of kings of England till King Edward the Second finds mention in this book.
However scant information only is available about other parts of the world, though there is some mention of China, known as Cathay.

‘My Choice to Abuse Drugs’ by Erekose begins with author’s reflections on the inner meanings of life, triggered by watching an army of snails trying to step over a cigarette butt, which prompts him to compare humans as socially programmed beings, deserving the name ‘bio-mechanical dolls’. Drug use, which is just anther feature of bio-mechanical life, does not deserve to be labeled a crime. At most it may be a useless feature, but certainly, not all features of the modern democratic society need be useful to all.
The author then goes on to examine one of the most feared drug, heroin, and the damage it can cause. Curiously he observes that, rather than the dangers caused by the substance heroin, the users are constantly being affected by other dangers, like, substandard material, contaminated syringe etc.
I remember reading somewhere that the biggest effort for elimination of drugs is by alcohol industry. This is because that industry stands to benefit the most from a ban on drugs. As can be seen from sales figures, non-availability of drugs result directly in increased sales of hard liquor. The author thus suggest a heavy involvement of alcohol industry in financing the anti-drug propaganda, and spreading terrible stories like, drugs cause impotency, it invites schizophrenia, all based on incomplete scientific studies.
I found this an interesting book. The author’s contention is that it is not mere drug use that is leading to social health problems, but incorrect and dangerous use of drugs, and such misuse is dangerous for the society even in respect of a nondrug material. Therefore just because of this, drugs do not deserve to be hounded. ‘The most useless person in the world is not a criminal until killing, stealing or raping takes place. Everything else is a moral judgment of personal lifestyle, which should have no place in the laws of states which describe themselves as ‘impartial’, ‘democratic’ and ‘free’.’
Though I am not yet in agreement with what is said here, this certainly is food for thought.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Book Review: The Seasons Of Our Lives

‘The Seasons Of Our Lives: How they Alternate from Good to Bad and Vice Versa and How we Can Benefit from their Alternations’ by George Pan Kouloukis is a book introducing a new concept: that alternations of good and bad seasons happen in our lives, and at a definite interval of 16 -17 years. The author illustrates this idea citing the biographical details from the life of more than twenty great figures from olden days to the present. Analyzing each major incident in the respective biographies, he points out how the seasons of their lives alternate from good to bad and vice versa according to a certain pattern. A good season gives its place to a bad, and a bad season gives its place to a good one – and so on. While analyzing their fortunes further, the author notes the repetition of good times and bad times happening at a predetermined interval, identified as 16 or 17 years alternately following 1496, 1512, 1529, 1545, 1562, 1578, 1595, 1611, 1628, 1644, 1661, 1677, 1694, 1710, 1727, 1744, 1760, 1776, 1792, 1809, 1825, 1842, 1859, 1875, 1892, 1908, 1925, 1941, 1957, 1974, 1990, 2007, 2024, 2040, 2056, 2073…

To come to this conclusion, the author explores life history of twenty one great names of history starting with Ludwig van Beethoven. Giuseppe Verdi, Pablo Picasso, and Mikhail Gorbachev. The Dalai Lama of Tibet, Margaret Thatcher, Elizabeth Taylor, Christopher Columbus and Victor Hugo are some of the other twenty great names, whose ups and downs of personal life are shown in great clarity, to support this finding. The author further points out how this data can be of assistance for each one of us. The knowledge of how ones lives’ seasons alternate can help in many ways, such as taking advantage of the good times in other people’s seasons. One can, for example, entrust an employee or colleague with the solution of a difficult problem, like governing the country (a politician could add this to his value, specially while canvassing for votes!), or coaching a team. Opponents can be faced with greater confidence when it is known that one is in a good season of their life, operating thus from a position of strength.

I found this a very interesting book, with clear explanations for all fresh concepts. I tried to suit the periods mentioned with my personal life, I have been able to make some headway in trying to make periods like 1974-1990, 1990-2007 relevant to whatever ups and downs happened in my life, prompting me to try harder. And the author confidently suggests that this is a valid document for anyone and everyone to have a glimpse of their future prospects.    

Book Review: Cultural Rehydration: A Layman’s Guide to Dealing with Culture Shock

Cultural Rehydration: A Layman’s Guide to Dealing with Culture Shock by Gerald W. Anthony, PhD begins with introduction of Cultural paralysis, better called cultural dehydration, as a condition experienced by expatriates that causes them to feel weak and unable to function in a foreign environment. Author points out that the stress of adapting to a new environment is often the one that leads to cultural dehydration.  In the three chapters to follow, the whole process of cultural dehydration and techniques that will serve as hydrators in such eventuality, are discussed. And the author begins by a comparison with the real problem of dehydration. If we do not understand that our bodies need water, how can we solve the problem of dehydration?  The same is true for cultural dehydration.  If we do not first understand the natural processes that our minds and bodies go through when we enter foreign cultures, then it will be hard to remedy cultural dehydration and allow cultural rehydration. Thereafter he explains the cultural adaptation process, every one undergoes in a foreign country, dividing the process into different stages.  Preparing oneself to meet the challenges is then discussed as an assembly of twelve pre-departure factors. Once you reach the country of destination, how these steps of adaptation are put to use is discussed as a seven-step process called Cultural Rehydration Therapy. At frequent places, the author has provided check points to establish satisfactory progress, making, monitoring the effective use of his techniques quite easy.