Saturday, December 29, 2012

Amazon Categories Are Not Infallible.

A singularly unparalleled collection of dreck. Taking a quick look at the top 20, both paid and free:

Just a thought – if the title of the book features phrases containing any of these: “selected quotes”, “heart advice”, “dating”, “positive thinking”, “great lessons from”, “mindfulness”, “superheroes”, “close your eyes”, or  (especially) “Tuesdays with Morrie”, no philosophy is occurring.  None. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Move along; no thinking is occurring here. It’s the philosophy version of Mad Libs - fill in the blanks on your three | seven | twelve step program to smuggery.

Of the others,

“Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”. Really? People are paying for this? As the ESPN guys used to say, C’ome on, Man!

The Communist Manifesto.  While a work of great practical import, Marx, as an economist, has been largely discredited since, ohhhh, Eugen Böhm von Bawerk started writing about him in the 1880’s.  Which is probably why most academic Marxists can survive only in America’s teacher’s colleges. Sort of explains the country’s Stalinist 5 year plan approach to education, as well as the not entirely unexpected pitiful results. Clue for Parents: If you hear one of your kid’s teachers use the phrase “social justice”, it explains why your kid isn’t learning math | science | history | English | fill in subject matter here.

Of the rest, Plato, Hayek, Aquinas, Sun Tzu, Kant, and to some degree, Hume, are all well worth spending time with. Paine, Rousseau, and Nietzsche less so.  And looking at this list, where are our chief problems, the pragmatists? (William James, John Dewey, Charles Pierce)? Or, for that matter, the existentialists, or the positivists | logicians?

You have to go further down the list to hit Descartes, Spinoza, Hume, and Locke. But, unfortunately, the ratio of dreck to worthwhile remains pretty high.