December 5, 2011

Leviathan Book II: Of Common Wealth

Title: Leviathan
Author: Thomas Hobbes
Publisher: Public Domain Books
Genre: Philosophy

Our natural man seeks power of many different forms.  This desire precedes conflict and contention even combat.  Arise the need for laws (contracts) that protects man from man.  Laws are upheld by a common power (common wealth).  The head of the common wealth must have sovereign power and wield its power through fear of punishment.  This fear must be powerful enough to instill peace amongst the people.  Excerpts from Job 41:10-33 describe the Leviathan as such, "none is so fierce that stir him up...his teeth are terrible round about...his scales are his pride...out of his mouth go burning his neck remaineth strength...his heart is firm as stone...when he raiseth up himself, the mighty are afraid: by reason of breaking they purify themselves...upon earth there is not his like, who is made without fear."

The primary reason for the creation of a common wealth is peace.  Peace is achieved through restrictions.  Our desire for peace is more powerful then our desire for liberty.

July 17, 2011

Leviathan Book I: Of Man

Title: Leviathan
Author: Thomas Hobbes
Publisher: Public Domain Books
Genre: Philosophy

Our knowledge and experiences in this world originate from our senses.  External bodies colliding with our senses creates images, tastes, smells, pressures, sounds, etc.   The residual effect is our decaying sense or imagination.  Understanding and thought is the succession of one imagination in line with another line of imagination.  Speech is the transformation of mental discourse into verbal discourse.  Reason is inviting our experiences into our thought processes.

To reason is to be subject to our senses.  True individual reason cannot exist.  Senses and thought processes are different by each individual beholding.  True certainty based on individual reason cannot exist.  There must be an agreed upon definition of each word in order for reason to become somewhat homogeneous.  Science is putting lines of reason together and cannot be possible without well defined words.

The arrangement of the book is a philosophical stepping stone.  The first part leads into the second and the second bases its arguments and conclusions on the ideas of the first part and so on.  However, after science, appetites (good) and aversions (bad) are the motions that take place within us that create endeavor or action.  Some are born with us others are gained from experience.  Proceeding our actions is deliberation and our so called will.  Passion and fear are rooted in appetites and aversions.  To have no passion is to be dead; to have weak passion is to be dull; to have passions indifferent is to be irresolute; to have passions abound is to be mad. The same can be said for fear.  From our passions and fears arises the pursuit of  our desires and the avoidance of our fears.  Pursuit and avoidance are actions that will inevitably lead to conflict; placing men against each other.  In this system there is no liberty.  Contracts must be created in order to allow some sort of liberty without fear.

Hobbes believes to be able to have a philosophical method, the human nature must be understood.  His reasoning, deduced from sensual experiences, I am sure, is the reason the first part of his argument is dedicated to defining human nature and the human thought process. The second part, Of the Common-Wealth, will be a show of protecting man from himself.

May 28, 2011

The Fall of Japan

Title: The Fall of Japan
Author: William Craig
Publisher:  Galahad Books (1997)
Pages:  368
Genre: Historical non-fiction

"The enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is indeed incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives. Should we continue to fight, it would not only result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but would also lead to the total extinction of human civilization.  Such being the case, how are we to save the millions of our subjects, or to atone ourselves before the hallowed spirits of our Imperial Ancestors?  This is the reason why we have ordered the acceptance of the provisions of the Joint Declaration of the Powers." - ignoring Imperial protocol Emperor Hirohito in his first ever public address to the nation of Japan on August 15, 1945, four days after the surrender of Japan and six days after the unleashing of the 2nd atomic bomb that devastated Nagasaki.

The fall of Japan was a dramatic time in an august nation.  Young and zealous men of military indoctrination continued the fight despite the words of their Emperor.  Coupes to overthrow the surrender rose and fell overnight.  Those in favor of surrender were stalked and murdered in their sleep.  To many, surrender was the denial of the sanctity of their Emperor and their nation.  Disembowelment, assisted suicides, self inflicted shootings, murders, terrorized this people.  The nightly bombing of Tokyo killed thousands.  The atomic bombs killed tens of thousands and thousands more in the following days and months.

The book was very interesting and includes perspectives from a wide spectrum both Allied and Imperial.  It is evident that a lot of time was spent in the research of this book.  From survivors of the Fat Man in Nagasaki to Gen Wainwright (an amazing story) POW in the Philippines, the perspective changes from personal to capacious giving a very unique insight into the events.  Highly recommended for anybody interested in 20th century history, Japanese culture, philosophy or military history

March 16, 2011

Guns, Germs, and Steel

Title: Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
Author: Jared Diamond
Publisher:  W.W. Norton and Company
Pages:  494
Genre: Social Science, Human Geography

The Fertile Crescent is the native home to the donkey, the cow, pig, goat, sheep and dog.    It is a native home to 32 types of large-seeded wheat species.  It is also the native home to peas, lentils and chickpea which are pulses high in protein.  Flax, also original to the area, is high in fiber.  This variety of homegrown, provided for a balanced diet of the early man.  The Fertile Crescent is the birthplace of modernity.  Australia is native to no domestic animals.  Australia was home to no crops.  All their nutrients came from the hunting of wild animals and the harvesting of wild vegetation.  For various reasons, the animals were not able to be domesticated and the vegetation was not able to be farmed.  Australian natives were hunting with spears as recently as the 20th century.

Each area of the world has its own climate, native plants, animals, and unique geographic features.  The foundation of each culture springs from the circumstances offered that specific group based on geographic location.  If there are no animals easily domesticated nor harvest-able crops in a particular area, those living there will not grow and prosper as those living in the Fertile Crescent.  With animals and edible vegetation come farms and with farms come large groups of people living in small areas and with this comes government, competition and disease.  Each society is equal other than geographic location.

This book appears to have been written in reverse.  The author has his politically correct conclusion selected and must be particular in supporting the resolution with historical examples, facts and theories.  He neither has anything negative nor positive to say about any particular culture or society.  This gives the appearance of an unbiased author.  The book is powerful with interesting examples.  It offers some education with a broad and brief, although theorized history of the world.

January 19, 2011

The Jungle

Title: The Jungle
Author: Upton Sinclair
Publisher: Barnes and Noble Classics
Pages: 396
Genre: Political Fiction/Classic

The purpose of this book was to expose, in the words of Upton Sinclair, "the inferno of exploitation of the typical American factory worker at the turn of the 20th Century."  Undoubtedly, the book did have an effect on the meatpacking industry, but not in the manner Sinclair wanted.  Theodore Roosevelt was president at the time.  His view of Sinclair:  "I have an utter contempt for him. He is hysterical, unbalanced, and untruthful. Three-fourths of the things he said were absolute falsehoods. For some of the remainder there was only a basis of truth."  Despite this, Roosevelt sent two men into the meatpacking factories to find that the conditions were absolutely revolting, unsanitary and unbearable.  As a result,  the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 were passed.

The jungle begins with a family of eager and excited Lithuanian immigrants who arrive in Chicago in the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness in the early 1900's.  Despite the many unemployed in the area at the time, the able bodied find work at Packing-town, a large slaughterhouse and meatpacking factory.  The family spends their savings on a down payment for a home.  They soon come to find that they were swindled in the purchase of the home.  From this point on, the family struggles with wage slavery, horrid working conditions, starvation, freezing cold, injuries and even death.  Family members run away; jobs are lost; morality loses its prestige becoming a jungle of individuals fighting for survival.

Real life is a continuous struggle.  Some struggle more than others.  The story of struggle in this book is not to be easily forgotten, but if pondered may be revealed to be an exaggeration.  First, the book, as stated by the author was created to promote an ideal.  That reveals a bias.  Second, when someone speaks in extremes, they reveal themselves to exaggerate.  This book is nothing but extremes.  There are few if any moderate characters (rich or poor, strong or weak), no moderate plot, no moderate settings and no moderate thoughts.  A portion of this book is not storyline, but instead a sort of socialist manifesto.  The manifesto states, "but imagine the problem of providing the food supply of our nation once taken in hand systematically and rationally, by scientists!"  It also predicts that if controlled by scientists, "the exact requirements of the community known," and "the exactly needful number to each place."  Be weary of statements that offer promises on something this impossible to fulfill.  Small communities cannot master this idea without disturbances and it remains only impossible to be used on a grander scale.