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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

My Reading List

Favorite Novels and Fiction

All the King's Men, Robert Penn Warren
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut
Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry
The Door into Summer, Robert A. Heinlein
Crime and Punishment, Feyodor Dostoyevski
The Riders of the Purple Sage, Zane Grey
The Caine Mutiny, Herman Wauk
Moby Dick, Herman Melville
Catch-22, Joseph Heller
Little Big Man, Thomas Berger
Mr. and Mrs. Bridge, Evan S. Connell
Good Faith, Jane Smiley
Tortilla Curtain, T. C. Boyle
King Solomon's Carpet, Barbara Vine (Ruth Rendell)
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler
Continental Drift, Russell Banks
Lust for Life, Irving Stone
Hawaii, James A. Michener
The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett
Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes
The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum
The Chill, Ross Macdonald
The Goodbye Look, Ross Macdonald
Bang the Drum Slowly, Mark Harris
A City for Lincoln, John R. Tunis
One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, Ken Kesey
A Blackness Darker than Night, Michael Connelly
Silence of the Lambs, Thomas Harris
The Shining, Stephen King
Sister Carrie, Theodore Dreiser
The Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe
The Return of the Native, Thomas Hardy
Dracula, Bram Stoker
Snow Crash, Neil Stephenson
Neuromancer, William Gibson
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larrson
V, Thomas Pynchon
The Tin Drum, Gunter Grass
Fatherland, Robert Harris
Gorky Park, Martin Cruz Smith
The Ginger Man, J P Donleavy
A Star Called Henry, Roddy Doyle
Kahawa, Donald E. Westlake
The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand
Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, Philip K. Dick
The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
Get Shorty, Elmore Leonard
The Steam Pig, James McClure
Love in the Time of Cholera,  Gabriel García Márquez
The Shipping News, Annie Proulx
The Day of the Locust, Nathanael West
Miss Lonely Hearts, Nathanael West
Tales of the Fish Patrol, Jack London
Something of Value, Robert Ruark
The Stranger, Albert Camus
The Full Catastrophe, David Carkeet
The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood
The Trial, Franz Kafka
The Naked and the Dead, Norman Mailer
All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque
Natural Man, Ed McClanahan
From Here to Eternity, James Jones
Cat's Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut
Gone Girl, Jillian Flynn
Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card
The Dogs of Riga, Henning Mankell
Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
Gulliver's Travels, Jonathan Swift
Candide, Voltaire
The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexander Dumas
Gargantua and Pantagruel, Rabelais
Cancer Ward, Alexander Solzhenitzyn
Rabble in Arms, Kenneth Roberts
The Tenants of Time, Thomas Flanagan
War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
Captains Courageous, Rudyard Kipling

Favorite Non-fiction

The Control of Nature, John McPhee
Common Carriers, John McPhee
Chaos, James Gleick
The Information, James Gleick
A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson
Longitude, Dava Sobel
Krakatoa, Simon Winchester
The Fracture Zone, Simon Winchester
The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell
Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell
Innumeracy, John Allen Paulos
Beautiful Evidence, Edward Tufte
Envisioning Information, Edward Tufte
Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative, Edward Tufte
The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Edward Tufte
The Fatal Shore, Robert Hughes
The Cluetrain Manifesto, Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls, David Weinberger
Software for Use, Lucy Lockwood & Larry Constantine
Information Anxiety, Richard Saul Wurman
Human Ecology: A Theory of Community Structure, Amos Hawley
The Inmates Are Running the Asylum, Alan Cooper
Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid, Douglas Hofstadter
The Design of Everyday Things, Don Norman
The Yalta Conference (Problems in American Civilization), Richard F. Fenno, Jr
Common Carriers, John McPhee
Civil Disobedience, H. D. Thoreau
As We May Think, Vannevar Bush
The Allegory of the Cave, Plato
Following the Equator, Mark Twain

Favorite Poems

Tiger Tiger, William Blake
For Whom the Bell Tolls, John Donne
The Iliad and The Odyssey, Homer
The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
Xanadu, Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Ozymandias, Percy Bysshe Shelley
Invictus, Gerard Manley Hopkins
Hiawatha, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Casey at the Bat, Ernest Thayer
Jabberwocky, Lewis Carroll
The World is Too Much with Us, William Wordsworth
Hélas, Oscar Wilde
The Odyssey, Homer
The Iliad, Homer
I am large, I contain multitudes, Walt Whitman
How Calmly Does The Olive Branch, Tennesee Williams
If I Ran the Zoo, Dr. Seuss
Green Eggs and Ham, Dr. Seuss
Annabelle Lea, Edgar Allan Poe
The Raven, Edgar Allan Poe
The Highwayman, Alfred Noyes

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Proust Questionnaire -- In Process

The Proust Questionnaire has its origins in a parlor game popularized (though not devised) by Marcel Proust, the French essayist and novelist, who believed that, in answering these questions, an individual reveals his or her true nature. Here is the basic Proust Questionnaire.

__1.__What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Who claims perfect happiness?  If there is any case in which perfection is the enemy of good, this is it.  If you reach perfect happiness, then what?  I think it far more valuable to achieve a happy disposition and a happy philosophy.  Equipped that way, when you have a set back, you can respond emotionally and rationally within the bounds of your disposition and your world view.  Happiness is a choice you make.

__2.__What is your greatest fear?  

Physically, I avoid claustrophobic confinement.  Mentally, I shun enslavement of any kind.  And spiritually, I do not turn toward closed ends.

__3.__What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?  

The tendency to respond with fight or flight, and to let that hold you back from high purpose.  I hope that I am an analytical, reasonable man.  But I fear the knee jerk, subliminal, primordial reaction that preempts critical thinking, forestalls principled analysis.

__4.__What is the trait you most deplore in others?

I do not empathize with those who cannot be generous to everyone.  It is something that everyone can aspire to without great sacrifice, therefore it is mean-spirited, small, and frightened to be otherwise.

__5.__Which living person do you most admire?

I don't know how to make a distinction among the living and those who illuminate today from the past.  Why should I have to make a distinction.  If I must name a person, he would be Mark Twain, a person of great wit, deep seriousness, and well-informed hope.  The grandest  aspect of human life is that, though few, there are always men and women of Twain's stripe.

__6.__What is your greatest extravagance?

I live as though I have unlimited time to spend.  I refuse to accept that there is not immortality, at least until I have had the alternative proven in my personal case.  There are many whom I do not wish to outlive, but since that is not my call, I do not dwell on it.  In either event, it will be among life's many things.

__7.__What is your current state of mind?

My current state of mind is being content with the state my mind finds itself in.  I am patient enough to wait for the world to play onward for awhile.  Every day delivers a thousand new delights.

__8.__What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Patriotism, and similar abstractions, are without substantial outcome.  It is a handle by which one may be manipulated.  It  is not a commodity of which one can share in happiness with others.

__9.__On what occasion do you lie?

Whenever I have the luxury of knowing in advance that it would be kind, then I may tell a lie.  The problem is that one seldom can know anything in advance.  Lots of practice, however, makes one less blind to likelihoods.

__10.__What do you most dislike about your appearance?

I haven't really thought about it much.  I believe that I have, practically, very little control over how others see me.  If anything, I am a bit too unthinking in this regard.  Other people do have legitimate reasons for wanting people to show a close match between their appearance and their affect.  But I am unsure whether my leaning toward naturalness is as welcomed by the average person as it is by me.

__11.__Which living person do you most despise?

Again, I don't claim even to know who is living or has died. I have a kind of a folk grasp of whom is present and of whom may have departed.  There are many villains of today and of the past, the worst being the warmongers.  I do not speak here of the soldiers.  My disdain is for those manipulators who think anyone's death ever serves the cause of peace.

__12.__What is the quality you most like in a man?

Openness is the quality I most like in a person, regardless of gender.  It is a quality most often dampened by fear and lack of confidence.

__13.__What is the quality you most like in a woman?

See above.  I have no reason, reasonable or otherwise, to suppose that I would like one aspect of women that I wouldn't find in a man.  In fact, I reject the idea that an entire gender would have a single, unique quality.  If I see the uniqueness of an individual, it is never in gender.

__14.__Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

These are too numerous to mention, but "too numerous to mention" would be a good example.  I do not throw away cliche casually, only those that have lost their power to communicate more adequately than a newly formed phrase.

__15.__What or who is the greatest love of your life?

My wife of 50 years and our generations are the people.  The thing is language.

__16.__When and where were you happiest?

I have been happiest in the period between April 29, 1943 and today.  I have found a piece of everywhere I have been that makes me happier.

__17.__Which talent would you most like to have?

I would love to compose music that sounded as though it were written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.  But wouldn't that be selfish of me?   Although we could always use more of the genuine Mozart, an ersatz Mozart would be a drug on the market.  I suppose that the impostor complex would take me down.

__18.__If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I would work harder at being a better writer.  But wait!  I should work harder at being a better friend to my wife.  The second plan, however, will scotch the first plan.  But the first plan will destroy both the second plan and itself.

 ... to be continued ...

__19.__What do you consider your greatest achievement?
__20.__If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
__21.__Where would you most like to live?
__22.__What is your most treasured possession?
__23.__What do you regard as the lowest depth of m
__24.__What is your favorite occupation?
__25.__What is your most marked characteristic?
__26.__What do you most value in your friends?
__27.__Who are your favorite writers?
__28.__Who is your hero of fiction?
__29.__Which historical figure do you most identify with?
__30.__Who are your heroes in real life?
__31.__What are your favorite names?
__32.__What is it that you most dislike?
__33.__What is your greatest regret?
__34.__How would you like to die?
__35.__What is your motto?

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Interface between Neuroscience and Philosophy

Churchland has focused on the interface between neuroscience and philosophy. According to her, philosophers are increasingly realizing that to understand the mind one must understand the brain. She is associated with a school of thought called eliminative materialism, which argues that commonsense, immediately intuitive, or "folk psychological" concepts such as thought, free will, and consciousness will likely need to be revised in a physically reductionistic way as neuroscientists discover more about the nature of brain function.[20] 2014 saw a brief exchange of views on these topics with Colin McGinn in the pages of the New York Review Of Books.[21]

Human Ecology

Amos Hawley

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Civilization at National Geographic

Civilization at National Geographic

Self-organizing Principles

Human_Action by Ludwig von Mises

Spontaneous Order

Next Meeting

Your weekly reminder --

We will convene Friday, March 17, 2017 from 9:45am until 11:45am.  Our meeting place is the Eastside Branch of the Lexington Public Library, on the second floor.

Our topic will be "Social Cooperation."  There are several relevant items on our group web page, 

Please note, we are meeting WEEKLY, although the catalog showed, in error, Bi-weekly.

I look forward to seeing each of you!

Best philosophical regards

Links for Social Cooperation

Social Collaboration

Social Cooperative


Social Cooperation and the Marketplace | Foundation for Economic Education

Human Nature and Social Cooperation.doc

ty Jim Smith

Food for Thought

Reading Lists

Submitted by Bill Bowden for Jim Carigan’s Lifelong Philosophy class in the Osher program

Reading in the earlier stages of my life that has helped to shape my philosophical views

· An Introduction to Modern Philosophy (Alburey Castell)    An undergraduate college course and textbook title. Survey course that included St. Thomas Aquinas, Schopenhauer, Kant, Nietzsche, Huxley, Hobbes, Hegel, and others. Introduced me to the metaphysical realm of ideas, epistemology, the nature of existence, and much more.

· Various undergraduate English courses that included ancient literature, Greek and Roman philosophers such as Aristotle, Plato, Sophocles, Euclid, Lucretius, Saint Augustine, others.

· Various political and social essayists read on the graduate level in connection with master of arts in British and American literature. Locke, Hume, Mill, , Burke, Lamb, Addison, Bacon, others.

· Various non-fiction works of Ayn Rand, including Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, For the New Intellectual, and The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution.

· Various political and social columnists from the left, center, and right, Gore Vidal to George Will.


Reading that reflects the philosophical view of life I hold to as a result of my studies, which also includes additional commentary on those ideas. Literature is the focus.

Philosophy and literature have always been closely intertwined in my choice of reading material. The novel is my favorite literary form. Plots must portray heroes and heroines struggling and often, but not always, prevailing against various forms of evil propagated by man. This means no reliance for plot points on freak accidents of nature, fatal disease, or coincidence, which have no philosophical meaning. I choose to exclude themes of nihilism, cynicism, and relativism. I’m looking for a clearly conceived universe where purposeful action, courage, productive achievement, and reason rule in an inspiring account of a view of life expressed in memorable characters and compelling plots.

Novels that have been important to me, and their heroes/heroines

· Far From the Madding Crowd (Thomas Hardy) Bathsheba Everdene
· Middlemarch (George Elliot)  Dorothea Brooke and Tertius Lydgate
· Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain)  Huckleberry Finn
· For Whom the Bell Tolls (Ernest Hemingway) Robert Jordan
· Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean Auel) Ayla
· Main Street (Sinclair Lewis) Carol Milford and Will Kennicott
· Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand) John Galt
· We the Living (Ayn Rand)  Kira Argounova
· Lonesome Dove (Larry McMurty) Woodrow Call and Augustus McCrae
· The Winds of War and War and Remembrance (Herman Wouk)   An ensemble cast


On the building of the transcontinental railroad, the Oregon Trail, the Erie Canal, World War II.


Popular music, movies of the 1930s and ‘40s, filmmaking in general, the media.

· Katherine Hepburn (Barbara Leaming)  Biography

· Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley (Peter Guralnick)  Biography

· The Beatles Anthology (The Beatles)

· The Universal Story (Clive Hirschhorn) History of Universal Studios

· The Publisher (Alan Brinkley) Biography of Henry Luce


 Emily Dickinson

 To make a prairie it takes a clover
and one bee –
One clover, and a bee,
And, revery.

The revery alone will do
If bees are few.

Sunday, March 12, 2017


One of the ideas we discussed about Plato's Allegory of the Cave was the differences in perceptions between observers.  I thought of a way to illustrate (no pun intended) this phenomenon, by comparing the three generations of great painters, the Wyeths -- grandfather, father, son.  N. C. Wyeth was the illustrator par excellence -- his perception was enlarged by imagination.

His son, Andrew semed to focus on the minute details of everyday life.

While his grandson, Jamie, seemed to pursue a larger scope of realism, doing landscapes and catching nature in his vision.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Upcoming Meeting 3/10/2017

Your weekly reminder --

We will convene Friday, March 10, 2017 from 9:45am until 11:45am.  Our meeting place is the Eastside Branch of the Lexington Public Library, on the second floor.

Our topic will be a short wrap-up of the discussion of our reading lives and what impact it has on our philosophies.  There are several relevant items on our group web page, 

We will also have our major discussion on Plato's Cave.

Please note, we are meeting WEEKLY, although the catalog showed, in error, Bi-weekly.

I look forward to seeing each of you!

Best philosophical regards

T Shirts

Planning ahead

All SIG facilitators received the following email in the past week.

Good morning All,

            If you are going to be facilitating through summer, beginning June 5 - July 31, please let me know by March 14.  Please let me know if you want to keep the same class or open a few more spots for the catalog and online.  I need dates, times and location too please.

Thank you!
Teresa Hager
Staff Support Associate II


According to my notes, we decided on these issues this past Friday, as follows.

Summer, yes.  Weekly, maybe bi-weekly.
Enrollment, yes, open a few more spots for the catalog and online -- 10 spots???
Location, Eastside Branch of Lexington Public Library
Dates and Time --- first Fri in June - last Fri in July, weekly, 9:45am- 11:45am.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Meeting of March 3, 2017

Your weekly reminder --

We will convene Friday, March 3, 2017 from 9:45am until 11:45am. Our meeting place is the Eastside Branch of the Lexington Public Library, on the second floor.

Our topic will be a short wrap-up of last week's discussion of our reading lives and what impact it has on our philosophies. There are several relevant items on our group web page,  

We will also have a preparatory discussion on Plato's Cave as a precursor to our March 10 meeting.

Then we will talk, for our main topic, about our choice from past recommendations from group members OR new topic recommendations brought to the meeting.

Please note, we are meeting WEEKLY, although the catalog showed, in error, Bi-weekly.

I look forward to seeing each of you!

Best philosophical regards

Plato's Allegory of the Cave

Here is a resource from the Web for this topic.

Allegory of the Cave

We will share other resources at the next meeting.