An Autonomous Agent

exploring the noosphere

Category: book (Page 1 of 25)

The Great War for Civilisation – Robert Fisk

The Great War for Civilisation by Robert Fisk provides a comprehensive account of events in the Middle East in the 2nd half of the 20th century. The book, despite being 1000+ pages, is easily readable thanks to Fisk’s incredible stories of adventure, harrowing near death experiences, and interviews with interesting people. Fisk interviewed and reported on some of the areas most notorious figures such as Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Ayatollah Khomeini, among others. This is the book to read to have a proper introduction and realistic, albeit with a Western perspective, understanding of historical events in the Middle East.

Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World – Paul Stamets

Know nothing about mushrooms, fungi, or mycelia? — Paul Stamet’s Mycelium Running opens a door to an exotic universe beneath your feet. Fungi and their interaction with ecosystems upturn all of what you thought you knew about the button mushrooms on your salad or pizza. Fungi, simply and truely, are incredibly important and amazing organisms. And as Stamets proves, they are a powerful tool to maintain the world for all of our descendants — not to mention their ability to provide a healthy and functioning human immune system.

Fungi Perfecti is Stamet’s family owned company for those interested in supporting mycoremediation, mycoforestry, mycofiltration, or mycopesticides.

Politics and Vision – Sheldon Wolin

After watching Chris Hedges’ interview with Sheldon Wolin, I desired to read Wolin’s books. Democracy Incorporated provided a creative perspective with which to interpret recent American political and social events. Upon completion, I had an urge to continue extracting the political ideas of Wolin and I concluded that the best way to do this would be to jump into the deep end and open his book, Politics and Vision. Not only do I now have incredible respect for his ideas but I also feel that he has broadened my personal awareness of my place in society and history. There are criticisms I have toward the content (exclusively focused on “European/American”), but they are rather minimal in scope compared to the benefits any reader would gain by reading it thoroughly. I would say that Politics and Vision, as time progresses, will turn out to be one of the most important books I have ever read.

Democracy Incorporated – Sheldon Wolin

In his book, Democracy Incorporated, Sheldon Wolin analyzes the current (2010 preface) American polity and its historical development. Every line is eye opening and revelatory, especially for those Americans who have been living in a virtual-reality cave for the past 15 years and/or have not been able to find the leisure time to discover what is slowly happening to their beloved society. The already aware reader will immediately identify with Wolin’s perspective and understand his point — that the government can be considered a corporate government. He makes it clear that despite calling their government a democracy, the American people live in a “managed democracy.”

If a path to legitimate democracy is to be successful, the people themselves must begin the renewal process by creating a democratic ethos in every individual — the revolution must come from within each citizen. Change will not come from the elites who promise change!

Wolin is poignantly critical of certain groups of political elites who insist, unwaveringly, that the founding fathers and the Constitution are outside the sphere of critique. These foundations for American “managed democracy” are treated as if they were created and inspired by divinity. Of course, Wolin does not suggest that the foundations should be abolished. They should be improved, clarified, and refined as required by developments in technology and culture. He points out the hypocrisy in the rhetoric of politicians — that they simultaneously deify and nullify the Constitution. At every opportunity, politicians and government officials attempt to subvert the powers they swore to protect.

Wolin’s book is a must read for any democratically inclined citizen and every American!

The following is one of the only video interviews of Wolin I could find:

Steps to an Ecology of Mind – Gregory Bateson

The papers, essays, and lectures contained in Steps to an Ecology of Mind showcase Gregory Bateson’s incredibly unique perspective. Due to the wide range of discussion within this collection, it is very difficult to write a concise summary. There are a few points which made a lasting impact in my mind.

He explains the levels of learning and how the animal mind can “learn about learning” and “think about thinking”; concerning humans – they can reach a third and possibly fourth level in this learning recursion hierarchy. He discusses this in the context of various subjects: anthropology, psychology, evolution, information, ecology, cybernetics and epistomoglogy in general.

He emphasizes that western science should adjust the way it thinks about relationship and form and discusses how these are relavant to the study of matter and energy. He questions the western conception of mammalian emotions, aesthetics, and the ego-self. On several occasions I found myself with the desire to re-read Godel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter. Both books I think contain some overlap in their treatment of information and the mind. Overall, Bateson was an incredible thinker and you will improve your intellect by reading this collection of work.

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