Tag Archives: books

A New History of Western Philosophy: An Exhausting Read

School of Athens

This article reviews A New History of Western Philosophy by Anthony Kenny

While intellectual history is a bird’s eye view of the intellectual landscape, a history of philosophy is a x-ray version of that landscape. A Gothic church has her beautiful stained glass windows, paintings and all other exquisite adornments but they merely suggest or altogether fail to tell us the underlying structure that supports the church itself. The relation between ideas and philosophy is similar. Philosophy reveals what is the underlying flows behind the intellectual ideas. It is, therefore, an x-ray version of the intellectual history.

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Masterpieces in Intellectual History: A Panoramic Picture of Western Civilisation

The Landscape of Ideas

The Landscape of Ideas

This article reviews two masterpieces of intellectual history: From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life (by Jacques Barzun) and The Modern Mind: An Intellectual History of the 20th Century (by Peter Watson)

Reading intellectual history is like looking out at the window when the plane takes off. The colossal buildings become smaller and smaller until they are no more than little blocks of lego. It is then you realize how those distinct and individual blocks are connected through streets and roads, so that a coherent image of cityscape begins to emerge. Intellectual history is such a bird’s eye view of the whole intellectual landscape.

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The Paradox of Reading a Book

The Paradox of Reading a Book

The Paradox of Reading a Book

I can proudly tell the world that I’ve not spent my childhood time in idle daydreaming. I read intensely and devoured any classics that I can lay my fingers on. I focused on classics because, well, they are classics – something that everyone will say is good and something that I can make sure I have well spent my time on. I read Dickens’ Oliver Twist and A Tale of Two Cities, most of H.G Well’s science fictions, Shelly’s Frankenstein, Stoker’s Dracula, Stevenson’s Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde and even Plato’s Republic and Rousseau’s Social Contract. All is very well. The only problem is that I understand none of them.

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A Thesis on Book

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

A book is ‘a written or printed work consisting of pages glued or sewn together along one side and bound in covers’ (Oxford Dictionary). This is a definition too broad and too narrow.

It is too broad because history shows that books can exist in many forms. The definition is referring to a book – form called codexBooks in the ancient time were in scrolls made of papyrus. Imagine the grand  opening of the first public library in the Roman Empire, the shelves were packed not with bound books but rolls and rolls of scrolls to be kept under a dry condition.

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What reading means to me

books

Reading has become less and less attractive. What’s the point of reading a long – drawn out novel when a movie can already present the story with pictures, sounds and live people. The visually stunning scenery, brainwashing soundtracks and the recent 3D effect are something that the four – cornered page can’t afford.

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Life in Forbidden City: Eunuch

The second starting from the right is one of the narrators in Eunuch's Recollection

The second starting from the right is one of the narrators in Eunuch’s Recollection

In Puyi’s eyes, they were  ‘slaves’. In The Twilight of Forbidden City, Reginald Fleming Johnston, the first foreign Imperial Tutor, portrayed them as greedy creatures who contrived to suck the remaining wealth of the Qing monarchy. The new Chinese Republicans viewed them as grotesque relics of the feudal past.

Xin Xiuming, the late Qing eunuch, was right in saying ‘It seems the most suffering and least appreciated group of people is eunuchs’

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