Thursday, June 22, 2006

A Dangerous Vision

Just finished reading "Consilience - The Unity of Knowledge" by Edward O. Wilson. I think I'll be writing a more in-depth review. It's a book with an important idea: that all knowledge fits together, even the humanities with the physical sciences. Wilson bases his idea on two important and upsetting notions. The one is that human beings have a certain human nature in common, and so all people, and all cultures, can be compared with each other from that perspective. This bit will upset most liberals who have set their minds on some version or other of multiculturalism or cultural relativism. The other is that when it comes to ethics there are no external laws, only laws that people agree to because of the human nature that they hold in common. This bit will upset trancendentalists who believe that laws of ethics come from an external source, e.g. God.

Anyway, Wilson makes a compelling case for the unity of all knowledge. He explains what roadblocks are stopping it (politics and history are two) and what promises lie at the end of the road (no panacea). I enjoyed the book, even though it took me a while to read due to a number of interruptions.

I also finished Spin State by Chris Moriarty. I'll definitely want to read more by this guy. He managed to describe a future that was at once the sort that I imagined, complex, with lots of cool stuff going on, and not necessarily all of it nice, and none of that supernatural crap that a lot of earlier cyberpunk authors saddled themselves with. Hopefully Moriarty continues further in the same vein.


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