Reading on – Dan Dennett et al

Following on from Sue Blackmore’s works, I have at last ordered the Dan Dennett materials so I can read him in the original. Also ordered David Chalmers book – I guess I need to read that too, even if it seems I disagree with him on Qualia. (What I forgot to order but will do next time is some Hofstadter – “Mind’s I” presumably, since he was influential on Chalmers.)

Meantime, having read Sue, and followed that with David Deutsch, both impressive – I started reading Ian Stewart’s “Flatterland” – the most recent of the sequels to Edwin Abbott Abbott’s 1884 fictional Flatland. Interesting idea, and nice allegory to get your head round concepts you can’t visualise in your current “world” – mainly dimensions beyond 3 in this case. [One omission that nags, is the idea of biological life in a 2D world – which as Martin Rees points out is impossible – a digestive tract splits you in two, unless you excrete through the same orifice you ingest – messy.] The thing that really gets in the way of my reading it is the dear diary, dear-unseen-correspondent please-lead-me-through-this-story style of Sophie’s World. A real turn off now as it was then. Pity, I though Stewart’s book on chaos was much better than Gleick’s, …. in exactly the same way I prefer Talbot to Gladwell, hopefully not a UK vs US thing ?

Apparently not, I’m now reading Caldwell and Thomason’s “Rule of Four”. Picked up and blogged about the subject of this book – the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili – soon after I’d read Donna Tartt’s “Secret History”, when I’d seen it described as being Eco’s “Name of the Rose” written in the style of Donna Tartt. (Though since Dan Brown has ejaculated all over this memespace in the intervening year, I now prefer the UK Independent’s rather snooty tag of “The Da Vinci Code for people with brains”.) A promising start – like Tartt’s Secret History the plot involves the riskier side of US College frat house traditions – Educated Genius vs Reckless Madness leading (presumably) to a Love (and Humour) Conquers All thesis. Anyway I’m hooked.

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