Today’s my last day in Paris. It’s been a good trip. Lots of food, reading, wine, and critical examinations. I’ll be spending most of my time airborne on New Years day, so I’d like to quickly commemorate my personal heroes and the goals of my future before my internet dissipates into thin air. Furthermore, in order to help myself become prudent, it’s helpful to celebrate it through a ritual called “my blog”. As Ellen Dissanayake once said, “making special” is an instinct with evolutionary merits, and the chief instinct behind our affinity towards creativity and Art. I’d like to encourage others who admire prudence and the arts to partake in this activity as well.
For the upcoming year, I’d like to finish the books I have not yet finished to expand my knowledge and broaden my horizons. These books are:
1) The Better Angles of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker http://www.amazon.com/The-Better-Angels-Our-Nature/dp/1491518243 (This book has helped me understand the merits of the Enlightenment, and the sociological/psychological/biological/anthropological/historical evidence for the decline of violence. A splendid book. Should be required to read in schools.)
2) Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter http://www.amazon.com/Gödel-Escher-Bach-Eternal-Golden/dp/0465026567 (This book allows me to understand Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem and its implications better, as well as presenting an interesting explanation for consciousness.)
3) Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals’ Abuse of Science by Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont http://www.amazon.com/Fashionable-Nonsense-Postmodern-Intellectuals-Science/dp/0312204078 (The title explains it all. This must be a required read for all universities.)
4) People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2767.A_People_s_History_of_the_United_States (A must read. It should be essential for students to imagine history from the perspective of the minorities as early as grade school.)
5) Darwin’s Dangerous Idea by Daniel Dennett http://www.amazon.com/DARWINS-DANGEROUS-IDEA-EVOLUTION-MEANINGS/dp/068482471X (Recommended for any philosophers who deny the potency and importance of Darwin’s contributions to practically all fields of knowledge.)
6) The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker http://www.amazon.com/The-Blank-Slate-Modern-Denial/dp/0142003344 (An excellent book that dispels any Tabula rasa nonsense.)
7) Liberalism and the limits of Justice by Michael Sandel. http://www.cambridge.org/fr/academic/subjects/philosophy/political-philosophy/liberalism-and-limits-justice-2nd-edition (An astounding criticism of Rawls’ view of personhood from a communitarian standpoint.)
8) Merchants of Doubt by by Naomi Oreskes http://www.amazon.com/Merchants-Doubt-Handful-Scientists-Obscured/dp/1608193942 (This is a book not only for students but the rest of humanity has to read. It is obliged as citizens and as victims of the merchants of doubts to read about those who’ve destroyed the climate with lies and propaganda.)
On top of finishing these books, I’m going to read a collection of poems by Yeats and Baudelaire to further my poetic knowledge and skill. I wish I could read Patricia Churchland’s Braintrust and Touching a nerve, as well as Dawkins’ Selfish Gene. When it comes to music, it’s essential for me to practice piano, and study jazz harmony to improve my chops. I must check up on how to better use DAW’s and production programs as well. Wait. There’s also my senior paper in French…
Now that I’ve established my upcoming plans, I’d like talk about my heroes. These are individuals who’ve deeply influenced my life, and it’s appropriate for me to honor their contributions to my life. Furthermore, I’ll be able to see where I stand intellectually and artistically to better analyze my works.
1) Serge Gainsbourg. His witty lyrics, extravagant wordplay, poetic prowess, and unrelenting spirit as a provocateur have deeply influenced my works. In fact, I’m writing my senior paper on his oeuvre and artistry. He is the reason I’m in Paris, and my interest in poetry. His rebellious spirit and controversial attitude have shaped my outlook of the arts, distancing myself from candy pop. I live to emulate Serge.
2) Noam Chomsky. Although I’ve recently renounced my affiliation with anarchism, I cannot bring myself to call Libertarian socialism an idiotic belief. Some of it is founded on assumptions of Human Nature that I do not find Darwinian (Chomsky is cited for describing creativity as a phenomenon somewhat independent from natural selection, whereas I believe it is highly related to natural selection), but its goals are neither selfish nor savage like its Libertarian counterpart in the Right. I could not denounce Chomsky’s character and relentless activism shown throughout his long career. I’ve personally been highly influenced by his politics. He guided me through my upbringing as a political thinker and a philosopher. Although we’ve parted ways concerning human nature and certain political stances, our view of morality and the role of an intellectual match better than ever.
3) Steven Pinker. Pinker has deeply influenced my view of violence and the Enlightenment with his ground-breaking book I’ve mentioned above. He has helped me venture into my newfound interest in cognitive science with clarity and encouragement. His clear prose and abundant knowledge astounds me every day.
4) John Rawls. No one has ever triumphed in moral philosophy in the way, I believe, John Rawls has in the last century. He has provided a philosophical basis for the Welfare state, and a formidable counter-argument against Libertarian /Laissez-faire ideologies. He is one of my heaviest moral influences.
5) Michael Sandel. Even before I’ve known any of the aforementioned heroes, Michael Sandel has guided me through the obscurity of ignorance with a luminance of knowledge and curiosity. He was the first person who exposed me to Philosophy, prompting me to read the works of Kant and Rawls. His thoughts still rest as foundational to my moral outlooks, due to the brilliance of his communitarian criticism of Rawls. I recently gave my girlfriend a copy of his newest book, “What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets”
6) Patricia Churchland. Possibly one of the most exciting living philosophers I know. I’ve never met anyone so nifty and knowledgeable in two dense fields, Philosophy and Neuroscience. She has clarified my stance on physicalism, morality, Free Will many times. It’s incredible how she continues to research and postulate philosophical foundations of Philosophy of mind. Her works should be read by more young students.
7) Hong Suk Chun (홍석천). The only openly gay celebrity in South Korea. He’s been through unspeakable trials, yet he uses his fame and influence to help out other sexual minorities to fair better. His radiant presence on screen despite the prejudices of his society is praiseworthy.
8) Peter Singer. He’s changed my repulsive habit of indulgence and lack of moral deliverance. Singer has allowed me to not only think about morality, but also take it into action. I plan to donate to charities more regularly, though I’ve been doing it sparsely for awhile. I also give birthday presents to some close ones with a donation under their name, saving dozens of lives. Singer has shown me the cogency of utilitarianism by actively decreasing suffering.
9) Brooksley Born. The former chairperson of CFTC. She was the only person who tried to save our economy by fighting against the likes of Robert Rubin, Larry Summers, and Alan Greesnpan. Her legacy and bravery depicted in the Inside Job lasts with me to this very day, sharpening my criticism against Wall Street and Laissez-faire savagery.
10) Albert Camus. He was a rare flower in a garden of weeds, surrounded by Maoist scums like Sartre. His earnest and moving book, La Peste, has left a profound impression on my views towards solidarity and collectivism. His innocent and exemplary adoption of pacifism allows me to divorce him from the existential nonsense he wet his feet in. Camus is a radiant beam of pacifism and solidarity in the literary world.
It’s nice to see my heroes and their accomplishments laid out in front of me. It gives me hope for humanity. I’m sure I’ve left out some heroes I could’ve included. If I think of more, I’ll either comment on this post or create another post. I hope I could push myself to enjoy this miraculous rarity called life to the fullest. It’s been a good year.