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A Spirit of Trust

A Spirit of Trust: A Reading of Hegel's PhenomenologyA Spirit of Trust: A Reading of Hegel's Phenomenology by Robert B. Brandom
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

18 months of reading. This is a dense, difficult magisterial work. Brandom believes that Hegel provides the explanation for how our normative rules emerges and are normative, through subjective consciousness of communities. And how a recognition of this process leads to confession, forgiveness, and trust. I found Brandom's arguments on many points quite convincing. The book is difficult to read, not eloquent or literary, and very repetitive. Only recommend for specialists. Hopefully someone who is a better writer will develop a more accessible version of these points.

And I feel the accomplishment of having finished!

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The Racial Contract

The Racial ContractThe Racial Contract by Charles W. Mills
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Excellent, concise critique of mainstream political philosophy. In the burst of anti-racist volumes in the last couple of years, it is a shame this thirty year old book wasn't a best-seller, as it deserves to be. With Mills' death this year and it being the anniversary of John Rawls' A Theory of Justice, which also draws attention to Rawls's respondents, I assume this book is getting increased attention--that's why I read it. And I regret not having read it long ago.

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Thinking, Fast and Slow

Thinking, Fast and SlowThinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I know I'm way late to the game in reading this book and saying that everyone needs to read it. Though I'm also glad that I read it just now, as we continue to go through the epistemic crisis related the epidemiological one. Last week it was particularly apt that I was reading the chapters on risk assessment as people were once again having to adjust their behaviors based on the surging Delta variant.

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Intersectionality

Intersectionality: Origins, Contestations, HorizonsIntersectionality: Origins, Contestations, Horizons by Anna Carastathis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A thorough, informative, and compelling discussion of intersectionality. Kimberle Crenshaw's original writings introducing the metaphor are carefully interpreted. They are also situated within a long tradition of Black feminist thought. Carastathis also considers a wide variety of criticisms and later developments of the idea. And she supplements it with decolonial ideas of Gloria Anzaldua, Andrea Smith, and Maria Lugones in ways that are really compelling. This is a heavy academic work, full of theory, but if you are interested in understanding this concept of Critical Race Theory more in-depth, I'd recommend the book.

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Upheavals of Thought

Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of EmotionsUpheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions by Martha C. Nussbaum
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

For the last month I have been engrossed in this over 700 page treatise on the emotions. And it is a brilliant masterpiece. I've read so many of Nussbaum's books but hadn't ever ventured this major work until this spring as I'm dealing with my own emotional turmoil around my divorce. It seemed a perfect time to connect my academic interest with personal need.

And what a great fit this book was. Despite it's intellectual rigor it is a an eloquent, emotional, engaging read. A true literary work, which few philosophical masterpieces achieve. One only wishes that this was more widely read.

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Freedom in the Making of Western Culture

Freedom: Freedom In The Making Of Western CultureFreedom: Freedom In The Making Of Western Culture by Orlando Patterson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a remarkable achievement.

One is impressed by the sheer breadth of this work. The number of disciplines in which Patterson is well read, evidences understanding, and is able to synthesize--sociology, history, philosophy, classics, literature, theology, biblical studies. His chapters on Saint Paul demonstrate that he had read some of what at the time were the leading scholars on Paul and scholarship that was then new and paradigm shifting, but before the paradigm had fully shifted. One would expect someone not an expert in a field to only know the conventional understanding not the latest groundbreaking ideas.

One is also impressed by his analytical abilities, the way he structures an argument, and the eloquence he musters.

And there is the power and originality of his theses, the core one of which is that freedom, the central value of the Western world, is intimately tied to the history of slavery. And that the dark side of freedom has been carried into contemporary debates.

Other of this theses are also original and compelling, such as that it was women who first prioritized freedom and women who elevated personal freedom again at the close of the Middle Ages and the dawning of modernity.

A truly remarkable book.

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Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals

Enquiries Concerning the Human Understanding / Concerning the Principles of MoralsEnquiries Concerning the Human Understanding / Concerning the Principles of Morals by David Hume
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's been 25 years since I last read Hume's Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals. I don't remember being all that engaged or impressed by it before. Nor is my old copy all that marked up. At the time I directed more attention and interest to the first enquiry.

But this time reading Hume I found it delightful. It is an enjoyable reading experience. Both enjoyable because engagingly well written and enjoyable intellectually, to reflect on the ideas presented.

I particularly liked Hume's emphasis on the pleasing social virtues that make life easier and more enjoyable. For instance, he describes entering a well-0rdered home as a guest and how the very site of the way the room is arranged and decorated "presents us with the pleasing ideas of ease, satisfaction, and enjoyment." Then the family enters and their "freedom, ease, confidence, and calm enjoyment" express their happiness and excite the sympathies of the guest, bringing the prospect of a joyful visit.

If you need a pick-me-up about positive emotions leading to a good social life, then take the time to read some Hume.

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