Damascus, MD, United States | Member Since 2008
I detest being duped into reading books based on the uncritical, ill-informed opinions of others, even when well intended. Time is far too precious to waste in the hearing or reading of worthless books. I do not think I will be found guilty of this transgression in highly recommending Oliver Burkeman’s, The Antidote. Admittedly, there is some egocentrism involved here. Among the central theses of the book is that (1) viewing life (and oneself) positively is no secure path to happiness (2) seeking security is sure to undermine efforts at obtaining lasting happiness (3) accepting and embracing the unavoidable evils of life is essential to true happiness (4) efforts to delude oneself about the ultimate nature of reality in all its brutality and banality (e.g. through religion, entertainment, and other forms of ‘reality transcendence’) are bound to fail and (5) in due deference to both Bertrand Russell and Ernest Becker, acknowledging the existential inevitability of death is essential for philosophical integrity and psychological solace. Anyone familiar with the Author’s philosophy, especially as delineated in Mind, Matter, Mathematics, & Mortality, will immediately recognize the common theoretical threads. Nothing, however, can be subtracted from the value of Burkeman’s project—his contribution to what Huxley called “the Perennial Philosophy” is original and enlightening.
Ian Shaw unfortunately affords extreme Afrocentrists ample ammunition in their allegations against Eurocentric Egyptologists. While it is proper to desire a post-prejudicial society, a post-racial society is neither requisite nor warranted as intellectual ideal. Race remains a meaningful concept and constitutes a legitimate (though betimes imprecise) way of crudely classifying peoples, if classify we must. It is neither irrational nor immoral to inquire into the racial composition of an ancient peoples such as the Egyptians. The accumulated evidence unambiguously indicates that the substratum of the populace was Black-African and that the civilization bore many elements aligning it with other African cultures (as well as influences from and “effluences” to the Levant). To this Africoid substratum would eventually be added Asiatic and Mediterranean peoples as well as other Africans from northerly (Libyan) and southerly (Nubian, Cushite)) regions. Despite this admixture, the ancient Egyptians must still have appeared distinctively “Black” for this was the observation of “the Father of History”, Herodotus, the 5th century BCE traveler who observed and dwelt with the Egyptian priests principally. To deny the simple (though substantive) supposition that the Ancient Egyptians were basically Black suggests the unconscious operation of an obscurantist ideology. Scholars such as Shaw may mean well by presuming to put race behind us but all efforts to alter or embellish the truth are ultimately abortive in the eyes of the informed and enlightened.
It is not pleasant to accuse an author of plagiarism and the allegation is rarely irrefutable. However, the evidence that Dr. V. Vedral incorporated ideas originally presented in my book Mind, Matter, Mathematics, & Mortality (M4): Musings on a Momentous Metaphysical Theory (Amen-Ra, 2011), is far too glaring to ignore. First and foremost, his thesis is identical to mine. Namely, he maintains that the fundamental nature of reality can be understood entirely in terms of information—more pointedly, that information constitutes reality. However, it is clear that Dr. Vedral’s thesis is derivative in that he provides no logical sequence of reasoning to support the hypothesis or model, whereas M4 does. Readers of both books will notice at least five additional parallels: (I) The identical name of one of his chapters (Creatio ex Nihilo); (II) The use of the same extended quote from Lord Bertrand Russell in the same context of the “the heat death of the universe” owing to the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics; (III) “The Hierarchical Nature of Scientific Disciplines” (my terminology) to describe the increasing informational complexity of the various branches of science; (IV) The invocation of the ideas of Sir Karl Popper—the notable philosopher of science—to provide an evaluative criterion of sorts [M4 ends with an entire exposition entitled “A Popperian Peroration” that does essentially the same.]; (IV) Reference to the film The Matrix, as exemplifying the intuitiveness of an informational interpretation of reality and (V) Invocation of elements of Eastern philosophy to (presumably) propound the notion that the Ancients’ understanding of nothingness is relevant to modern metaphysical thinking. [It should be noted that although M4 appeared in complete e-book form in 2011, extended excerpts and the contents page was published on my website beginning in 2005-2006. Thus, the author of Decoding Reality had a half-decade to apprise himself of my ideas.]
As both books are rather brief, the independent occurrence of so many similarities is improbable (unless the truth of the model is adjudged extremely evident to individuals of a certain intellectual orientation). Unfortunately, Dr. Vedral introduces ideas including casino gambling, stock market investing, quantum computing, social network theory, and even an uniformed dietary discourse that detracts decidedly from the overarching thesis of the book. This incoherence only illustrates that he has failed to argue convincingly for the validity of the Informational Metaphysical Hypothesis (as we might describe it). It would be unbecoming to promote my own book at the expense of Dr. Vedral. I shall resist this natural temptation and instead advise all readers interested in this fascinating perspective to acquire J. Gleick’s, The Information—a truly original and momentous work that is, happily, available from Audible.
A masterpiece of meticulous linguistic and historical research made intelligible to the interested laymen. So exquisite is the elocution of the narrator, so impressive is his mastery of several spoken languages, that it must be heard, not merely read.
The book, Bozo Sapiens, by the Kaplan couple exemplifies how lewd, lame, and lugubrious learned persons can be. Listen to the book only if you can bear being disappointed by the irredeemable depravity of humankind, the authors included. They so deserve each other....
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