Wednesday 21 December 2011

Precht, Richard David "Who Am I and If So, How Many?"

Precht, Richard David "Who Am I and If So, How Many?: A Journey Through Your Mind" (German: Wer bin ich und wenn ja, wie viele? Eine philosophische Reise) - 2007

Usually, I read non-fiction more "on the side". During the time I need for it, I read at least 2-3 novels.

In this case it was exactly the reverse. I could hardly put the book down. The individual sections were complete by themselves, so you could read a chapter every other month. But - I didn't want to.

Richard David Precht manages to make a subject as exciting as a thriller, a subject that can also be represented quite tough and boring. Sure, it's not a book for a philosophy student - although I'm sure they can learn from this, as well. But he offers a lot of knowledge for the average citizen that you would not find otherwise in such a vivid and entertaining way.

I would recommend this book to anyone who has even the slightest interest in philosophy and always wanted to know how this world works.

The book is objective and original. The fact that it has been translated into English after only a couple of years speaks for itself.

From the back cover:

"There are many books about philosophy, but 'Who Am I? And If So How Many?' is different from the rest. Never before has anyone introduced readers so expertly and, at the same time, so light-heartedly and elegantly to the big philosophical questions. Drawing on neuroscience, psychology, history, and even pop culture, Richard David Precht deftly elucidates the questions at the heart of human existence: What is truth? Does life have meaning? Why should I be good? and presents them in concise, witty, and engaging prose. The result is an exhilarating journey through the history of philosophy and a lucid introduction to current research on the brain. 'Who Am I? And If So, How Many? ' is a wonderfully accessible introduction to philosophy. The book is a kaleidoscope of philosophical problems, anecdotal information, neurological and biological science, and psychological research.

The books is divided into three parts:

1) 'What Can I Know?' focuses on the brain and the nature and scope of human knowledge, starting with questions posed by Kant, Descartes, Nietzsche, Freud, and others.

2) 'What Should I Do?' deals with human morals and ethics, using neurological and sociological research to explain why we empathize with others and are compelled to act morally. Discusses the morality of euthanasia, abortion, cloning, and other controversial topics.

3) 'What Can I Hope For?' centers around the most important questions in life: What is happiness and why do we fall in love? Is there a God and how can we prove God's existence? What is freedom? What is the purpose of life?

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