Showing posts with label philosophy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label philosophy. Show all posts

Monday, October 24, 2016

Abigail the Whale by Davide Cali

Rating: WORTHY!

This was a wonderful book which takes a positive-thinking approach to bullying. You can't control what other people do (although you can influence it for better or for worse!), but you can control how you see what they do and how you let it affect you.

Abigail is overweight and she loves swimming, and there, at the crux of these two contentions, is her problem: people make fun of her at the pool, and call her Abigail the Whale. She makes a big splash and it's not seen in a positive light by her classmates. I was tempted to wonder why the teacher didn't berate her classmates for their bullying and their mean 'fun-making', especially given that he's the one who turns around and introduces her to positive thinking, but I doubt young kids will be quite that analytical! It would have been nice had he said something to the other kids, though.

But this is about Abigail's problem, not the teacher's, and Abigail is smart and considers this new addition to her armory seriously. Once she tries it out and finds that it works, she embraces it whole-heartedly and starts to enjoy life again, and not just at the pool. I liked the way this book offered something for the child to do, and a way to think positively about herself. It's very simplified here, but maybe this will sow a seed or two which will grow, flourish, and blossom strongly later in children's lives. I love the illustrations by Sonja Bougaeva, and the book's overall tone.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Can a Robot be Human? by Peter Cave

Title: Can a Robot be Human?
Author: Peter Cave (no website found)
Publisher: One World
Rating: WORTHY!

This is a non-fiction book featuring "33 Perplexing Philosophy Puzzles", and take it from me as a person who despises philosophy (which is indeed a cereal box religion), it's the most entertaining introduction to philosophy that you can buy. Think of it more along the lines of logic puzzles, and you will have a better feel for it than thinking of it as a philosophy 101. Its actually not a logic puzzle book as such, but it presents one conundrum after another which will stimulate your logic cells as you try to make sense of the challenge and figure out the best answer. It will also stimulate your compassion cells, your moral cells and a host of other cells, including prison cells and terrorist cells!

The book covers morality and decency and hits you with sometimes-almost-impossible-to-figure or counter-intuitive responses to real life situations which are here stripped down to the simple bare bones, to hone in on the crux of the issue. The chapters are really short, and they cover health, religion, Zeno's paradox, love, what makes a sand castle a sand castle, contrariness, hungry donkeys, wolf whistles, and saints, sinners, and suicide bombers. Who wouldn't want to read this? It's almost as good as an exploding wicker chicken.

Its recommended that you tackle a couple of chapters each day, but I found that once I began, I was reading scores of pages at a time.
Each chapter has a brief discussion of the issues at the end, with references to other chapters which feature related issues. You by no means have to read this linearly.

I recommend this. If you're a fan of Sam Harris, particularly his The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values, then you might find this a refreshing alternate way to approach that topic.