Saturday, July 21, 2012

Fate & Philosophy

Fate & Philosophy

By Jim Flynn

Emeritus Professor Jim Flynn brought us The Torchlight List a couple of years ago - his recommended reading list to give a broad taste of literature, and life. Fate & Philosophy is the second book in what is to be his Modern World , the purpose of which is to get people to think about their place in the world. Flynn hasn't taught philosophy but is passionate about it and sees it as very personal. So this book very much reflects his beliefs, but also gives an overview of the beliefs of others. As he puts it in one chapter,

'Today is my seventy-seventh birthday, so it has taken me sixty-five years to replace Catholicism with a personal philosophy I can live with.'

In the book he looks at the big questions such as 'what is good?' Is it moral reality or language that tells us what is good, or economics, or ourselves? 'What is possible?' 'What exists?' And what tells us what exists? Religion? Science? Instruments? Or our own sensory experience? Does God exist?

In writing this book Flynn is trying to get us to think beyond what we have been told or brought up to believe by our parents, or religion, or society. To question what we thoughtlessly accept.

I did not find it an easy read, in fact for me there was quite a bit of mental gymnastics and re-reading required - but that probably says more about me than the book. I have no background in philosophy and a little knowledge would have been handy. In saying that, I am glad I read this book, in fact I will re-read it to help digest some of the argument. In this reader Jim Flynn has certainly achieved his aim, in getting me to think more about my perceptions of the world and my place in it. An interesting and challenging read.


Margot Kinberg said...

Vanda - It certainly sounds both interesting and challenging. Sometimes it's good to stretch our minds though, and Flynn certainly seems to raise some of those really important big questions...

Karen Trebilcock said...

Hi Vanda
Flynn did teach philosophy - his politcal philosophy lectures when I was at Otago in the 1980s were some of my most memorable. He was great!

Elizabeth said...

Hi Vanda, It's an interesting thought but I wonder if some academics might draw a fine line between pure Philosophy and the Philosophy of Politics or the philosophy of any other discipline for that matter. Perhaps you and Karen have equally cogent views, rather than opposing ones, when you say Prof Flynn did not teach Philosophy and Karen says he did. Ah, Philosophy, it is always fascinating.

Vanda Symon said...

Ha, Elizabeth, you are so right. There are no absolutes in philosophy (-:

mbak desi said...

Sometimes it's good to stretch our minds though, and Flynn certainly seems to raise some of those really important big questions