RECENT REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS
- Mental Penguins
I found 'Mental Penguins' to be a fascinating and at times frightening read as I identified with his points about how distracted my own age group has become, mainly by the number of times I was distracted while reading!
The book feels thoroughly researched and tackles some difficult concepts of neuroscience that are clearly outwith the authors own field of study, but still feels relatable and understandable. I enjoyed his frequent example sections which broke off from the main narrative to further expand upon a point he was making, I found them very helpful. I feel I have learned a lot of new ideas from this book which I can investigate and research further to draw my own conclusions.
This is a thought provoking read and is a good starting point for anyone interested in the relationship between education and technology. ~ Sarah Moxey (Librarian), NetGalley
- Mental Penguins
The two things that I loved about this book are the logical progression of the topics and concepts and the writing. The science is not dumbed down but at the same time it is made accessible to strangers to the field of neuroscience.
Ivelin Sardamov has put in a phenomenal amount of research. This is evident on reading through it. He has gone into the details of neuroscience and has explained the cause and effect of each of the contributing factors to this crisis. It boils down to this – we have reached a stage in human development, where our brains are no longer able to keep up with the sensory input bombarding them. This has caused a lot of changes in the way we learn and our mental outlook....
~ Kartik Narayanan, Digital Amrit https://digitalamrit.com/blog/2017/05/23/mental-penguins/
- Mental Penguins
As an educator and working with students in this digital age, I found Mental Penguins to be a fascinating, provoking and well-researched novel. Although I wasn't entirely convinced by the conclusions Sardamov comes to, I was intrigued by his findings and tales of his students. It provoked me to think about my own stance on social media and technology and how I address it with my own students. I believe we both have a long way to tackle this particularly subject but I am sure we will do it in very different ways! ~ Morgan Melhuish, NetGalley/Educator at Baku Oxford School, Azerbaijan
- Pandeism: An Anthology
Engaging, thought provoking, and an enjoyable read. I can't wait to buy this for my philosophy loving friends so I can discuss the concepts with them ~ Lily Greer, Faerie Review
- No Time and Nowhere
Subtitled ‘a nonphysical world behind this one’, this book takes the reader on a journey through both psychological and material instances of nonphysical manifestations, the latter involving experiments in quantum physics. The main body of the book is devoted to a consideration of well attested apparitions (which the author terms hallucinations, implying that at that level there is nothing actually there) and precognitions. He gives succinct accounts of many cases and discusses the implications in the course of making a case for a nonphysical world beyond space and time. The first category of apparitions concerns principally space, while the second involves time. Here he could have distinguished between cases that seem like imprints and others suggesting real agency. Those familiar with the literature will realise that these cases have to be taken seriously as an indication of the underlying nature of reality, while those new to the field will find ample evidence for the author’s argument. He goes into the dream state and discusses the nature of imagery and imaging, including some cases of foreknowledge about post-mortem events. It is a thorough and logical treatment justifying his hypothesis ‘that there exists an ambiance influencing aspects of the physical world that is outside time and space.’ By his own admission, there is much more theoretical work to be done the cases discussed demand an explanation along the lines he suggests. ~ David Lorimer, Network Review
- More Than Allegory
Previous books by Bernardo Kastrup have provided a scathing critique of scientific materialism and a strong advocacy of a worldview based on the primacy of consciousness. This book addresses the relative status of religious myth, truth and belief in relation to each other in a rigorous way. The overall thrust is that the universe is becoming self-aware through us, but we are misled by our current consensus reality that there is a real world outside consciousness. Myths are in fact a means of embodying transcendent truth and not just to be taken allegorically. Their significance can be apprehended intuitively. The author’s experience of the cross in Cologne Cathedral revealed to him the transcendent truth of this Christian symbol so that he experienced it for himself. In a spiritual sense, the quest for truth is also a quest for inner peace. In the process, not only the ego but also the notion of truth itself need to be deconstructed while we come to the realisation that past and future are both constructs and, given the primacy of consciousness, truth is inherently subjective, even though it can be shared in terms of perceptions, explanations and predictions. All this, according to Kastrup’s perspective, takes place within Mind at large. The third part on belief takes the form of a story/dialogue exploring the themes in more depth as lenses that define our perceptual possibilities. This leads to an interesting discussion of death as a transition from observing the universe to being the universe, from dreaming to conceiving, reflecting another aspect of Mind at large. All this is within the Divine imagination. We become aware of non separation and thus achieve liberation. A subtle exploration of reality as we know it. ~ David Lorimer, Network Review
- In Search of the Common Good
Jack E. Brush
This stimulating book is a sequel to Citizens of the Broken Compass, which I reviewed in Network 118, and is subtitled ‘guideposts for concerned citizens.’ It is a wide-ranging historical review of the relationship between law and order in a cosmic sense and in a moral sense. The theme of the common good was also discussed in the previous book, and some themes reappear here.
The distinctions the author makes between power, force and violence are timely in view of current events. For him, force compels and coerces, while power persuades and convinces; when force becomes destructive, it crosses over into violence. In this context, power and violence are inversely proportional, and by these definitions the US is in fact a superforce rather than a superpower, aiming as it does at full spectrum dominance. Moral authority, the author contends, stems from power rather than force, and here there is an interesting parallel with Stephan Schwartz’s notion of beingness in his book reviewed in another section.
For Brush, the most sympathetic of the ancients is the Stoic Cicero, whom he quotes at some length. For the Stoics, natural law permeates the universe like a membrane and can be apprehended through reason; the law is immanent rather than imposed. Hence Cicero writes that ‘law is the highest reason, rooted in nature... and established in the human mind.’ (p. 21) Acting morally is acting in accordance with the common good corresponding to the connectivity of things; ‘human beings are born the sake of human beings’ according to Cicero. Interestingly, Brush argues that the loss of this cosmic dimension of imposed law led to a literalistic interpretation of the Bible.
Descartes, Newton and Kant all contributed to the emergence of a mechanistic view that separated the physical or cosmic from the moral. For Descartes, law was grounded in the immutability of God, while the metaphor of the machine allows no free will or purpose. It was only a matter of time before God was eliminated from this universe and we thus find ourselves subject to moral nihilism with no reliable basis for establishing moral values and making moral decisions.
Darwin and Freud further contributed to this process where the emphasis is shifted from rational in the phrase ‘rational animal’ to ‘rational animal’ subject to powerful sexual drives. In addition, historicism reinforced this process by demonstrating the cultural relativity of values.
Brush advances a new departure, starting from an analogy of physical constants as fixed points, with the self experienced as a centre of unity and continuity. He then proposes three polarities or axes of human behaviour: force – power, life – spirit and time – eternity. His distinction between force and power, defined above, exactlycorresponds to the system of David Hawkins, who is not mentioned here and whose work could have added to the argument. Although he does not formulate it like this, the author could have added a further polarity of individual - social. In relation to society, he proposes that these polarities become processes of self-knowledge, self-actualisation and the transformation of relationships. The full expression of these processes is hampered by excessive individualism, itself related to property rights described by Locke and incorporated in the American constitution. This sets up a tension between individual interests and the common good, where the corresponding interests are seen to be freedom and national security. Brush makes less use of holistic arguments from modern science here than in his earlier book, but he does describe the evolution of our modern emphasis on human rights from Hobbes, where the individual is the building block of society rather than being embedded in it.
He develops three guideposts for compliance with natural law: respectful dialogue, opportuneness of action and community building. He applies these to specific situations by way of explanation, but cautions that the last guidepost has been subverted by consensus building through manipulation of public opinion going back to Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays, in the aftermath of the First World War. What is really at stake here is the relationship between metaphysics and ethics, which is the underlying theme of my book Whole in One, subtitled ‘the near death experience and the ethic of interconnectedness.’ My proposal is that mystical experience and the life review - as well as parallels in depth psychology, physics, biology and ecology - point to an underlying oneness of life, being and consciousness so that we are in a very real sense one another. In this context, the golden rule is not only ethical, but ultimately logical.
The moral order of interconnectedness is embedded in a metaphysic of the oneness of consciousness. Having said all this, I applaud the highlighting of the common good, which we must now apply on planetary scale rather than pursuing selfish nationalism at the expense of the whole and indeed of Nature.
~ David Lorimer, Network Review
- Mental Penguins
Prof. Sardamov has accomplished a fabulous integration of the personal narrative and academic form, with a readable, understandable call to alarm for anybody willing to listen. His own experience is compelling, and his review of many aspects of neuroscience, psychology and even philosophy lend tremendous theoretical support to his argument. ~ Dr. Stephanie Brown, clinical psychologist, author of SPEED
- Mental Penguins
Prof. Sardamov sounds the alarm about the unrelenting, pervasive stimulation facilitated by our enchantment with information technology. He makes a compelling case for reclaiming the less thrilling yet essential gratifications of reading, one child at a time. ~ Dr. Philip Zimbardo, Professor Emeritus, Stanford University, and Founder of The Heroic Imagination Project
- Mental Penguins
An impassioned plea for the need to avoid gimmickry in education and to recapture the patient reading and learning that gives depth and breadth to developing minds. Those who have their own reasons not to hear its important message will easily dismiss this very personal book, but they would be unwise to do so.
~ Dr. Iain McGilchrist, psychiatrist, author of The Master and His Emissary
- Mental Penguins
I literally could not put this book down. Prof. Sardamov makes a passionate, meticulously-researched and utterly compelling case for reinstating reading (yes: old-fashioned text-based reading) at the heart of formal education. No UK or US academic at the moment would dare to write this book - but, boy, do we need it! Buy it, read it and send a copy to your favourite politician. ~ Sue Palmer, Literacy specialist, author of Toxic Childhood and Upstart
- Escape from Quantopia
Defending the Honor of Time
Escape from Quantopia. Collective Insanity in Science and Society. Ted Dace. IFF Books. Winchester UK, Washington USA. 2014
I first became acquainted with the work of Ted Dace through an article of his published on the Counterpunch website in December, 2015—“Physics Unhinged.” http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/12/25/physics-unhinged-2/
Mr. Dace, described as an “independent scholar,” was defending Time against the timeless equations of physics. He wrote that “…if time is like space…everything that happens is a lie, even consciousness itself…Not only materialism, which reduces consciousness to the operations of a causally determined organic machine, but mathematical idealism undermines the intrinsic value of life and all its qualities.”
I immediately felt a bond with his work. I wrote to him, thanking him, and we commenced a correspondence. In the meantime he had stumbled across my book, Consecrated Venom: The Serpent and the Tree of Knowledge, and he had some very generous and complimentary things to say about it—which both surprised and touched me. In the course of our correspondence I introduced him to the work of Rosenstock-Huessy, who had so many incredible insights regarding time in his book The Origin of Speech and other sources. Rosenstock believed that the concepts or time and space as deployed by science were first organized by grammar, for “time is created by speech.”
In this paper I want to provide a sort of “Rosenstockian commentary” to Ted Dace’s book, Escape from Quantopia. First of all, the very fact that Mr. Dace would feel moved to make a defense of time is, in my view, a highly significant development. We are not aware for the most part to our debt to time. Just as the fossil fuels which power out modern ways of life are the energy-fruit of times compressed over geological ages, scientific equations, too, and the concepts we throw around here and there to explain the world, have time silently enfolded into them. Rosenstock remarks, in a lapidary statement, that “An object is an act minus its time-element.” (Origin of Speech, p. 65) Likewise, how much time is assumed in our concept of the atom, of light waves, of evolution or indeed of any concept that we use so freely? In that same work he comments that we “stultify” our own efforts “… by not confessing the two opposite kinds of knowledge: knowledge which takes time and knowledge which takes no time. (op. cit., p. 46)
Any concept we use in science contains the history of science, and before that, the Christian religion as the indispensable preparation for science—and before Christianity, of course, the Greeks. )  This historical development is something that the raging atheists of today don’t want to hear—maybe because atheism itself is not so much a protest against “God” as it is the lack of time-sense, of historical consciousness. Atheism is a kind of flypaper. It gets people stuck in the present moment, with no future because the light from the past has dimmed.
Escape from Quantopia is first of all a protest against the tyranny of the indicative: “where mathematical laws generate everything from atoms to thoughts.” (Quantopia, p.3) The indicative or objective form of speech is, according to the Rosenstockian “Cross of Reality”, the fourth or final phase of an entire speech-process embracing (1) the you-statement command or imperative (future-creating), (2) subjective, subjunctive or lyrical, “I” statements in which the soul imagines and feels its response to the imperative situation, (3) the we-statement or collective memory, history, ritual and past where we consult former answers to the questions that impassion us. It is only in the fourth or final phase that the deed is done, the fact stated: 2+2=4.
Here is the “Cross of Reality” expressed diagrammatically. The upright pole is the “space” dimension (inner-outer, subject-object); the horizontal or cross-beam is the temporal dimension, past-future:
It is apparent that even a quick look at this diagram offers much richer possibilities than the conventional subject-object division of Western philosophy. It helps to concretize the mind by dismantling abstractions, in bringing us into real life as a time-process. Rosenstock often made much of the fact that the Greek grammatical tables – “Alexandrian grammar,” he called it—is actually a hindrance to the new grammar of social relations. The new or higher grammar that he explicated in his works could become the true basic for sociology. But there is yet another way in which modern grammar-awareness differs from the old-fashioned kind. “Grammar,” gramarye, meant ‘magic,’ and ‘glamour’ is a corruption of ‘grammar.”  Perhaps our ancestors saw that “grammar” provides polish, skill, sophistication, the ability to manifest charisma and conviction -- hence ‘glamour.’ In pre-literate societies this may have been so. But today, in society that has become post-literate and crammed with words, advertising jingles, slogans, ideologies, abstraction, ‘grammar’ is needed to step up to the plate in an apocalyptic role: to remind us of the stages of our humanity. It reveals who we are. And on the contrary, it is words, slogans and ideologies which today convey deception and mental manipulation—which Ted Dace explores in many levels in Escape from Quantopia. The irony that is the modern gramarye of social science is not in magic or deception but in just the reverse: re-concretizing, incarnating, and making real.
As a defender of time, Ted Dace is drawn to those philosophers in our tradition who have paid attention to time and memory. Charles Sanders Pierce comes to mind, and Henri Bergson. In our time it is Rupert Sheldrake who has challenged the idealist-materialist-timeless mindset and aroused the ire of the dogmatists. For scientific dogmatism and determinism make strange bedfellows in our modern age, which so prides itself with science. He quotes Einstein, who said that “For us convinced physicists, the distinction between past, present and future is an illusion, although a persistent one.” Dace finds it an odd statement, as if Einstein disbelieved it himself. The spatialization of time seems to have led to a “suffocating determinism.” It certainly has led to the omission of the physicist as a human being, as Einstein’s statement shows.
C.S. Pierce argued that Nature’s laws might be better understood as “habits,” and Sheldrake further developed this idea with his “morphic resonance.” In his book The Presence of the Past, Sheldrake defines morphic fields “… like the known fields of physics, [to be] non-material regions of influence extending in space and continuing in time.” Thus “morphic resonance” is “the process by which the past becomes present within morphic fields.” The emphasis is not on timeless laws of nature but on what actually arises and evolves. Hence there can be creativity and novelty in the unfoldment of possibilities in time. Dace puts the matter concisely: “the question of freedom boils down to the mystery of time” (Q, p. 230)
I believe that Ted Dace’s explication of time according to a revised physics is very compatible with Rosenstock’s researches into the grammatical basis for our history and creativity. Certainly Rosenstock’s definition of the supernatural summarizes this new attitude very well: “…the supernatural should not be thought of as a magical force somehow competing with electricity or gravitation in the world of space, but as the power to transcend the past by stepping into an open future.”  Rosenstock believed that scientific notions of time and space were ultimately the result of the kind of ordering activity that we execute by means of grammatical speech. Always and everywhere, Rosenstock brings thinking back into speech, into speaking – he remarks somewhere that thought is just the storage-room of speech. Thus the Kantian “categories” – time and space—are these but grammatical realities dressed up for their debut in cognition? Rosenstock would have us ask this kind of question, as Ted Dace does too, and also the fellow kindred soul Ortega y Gasset, who said that our task today must consist in the overcoming of idealism. Thought is not primary. Speaking is. And speaking to someone by name is the beginning of human life proper. For I have no doubt that animals have languages. But animals do not give names: and it is the Name which marks the real start of human destiny.
And despite Noam Chomsky and Steven Pinker, there is no “language instinct.” Fortunately Ted Dace does not get bottled up with the instinct-mutation-genetic question, but asks, very simply and directly—“Isn’t it more likely the motive force for human language was the desire of our ancestors to better understand each other?” (p. 72) This is putting the question back into the arena of social relations, where it belongs. And Dace’s discussion of science materialists, dogmatists and atheists like Michael Shermer, Dennett, Dawkins, Myers, et al, is illuminating. He paints a picture of socially inept people who somehow resemble dinosaurs of egotism. Tellingly, Rosenstock remarks somewhere that God cannot speak to a soul that is an “I.” It must become a “You.” In this era of egotism and fanatical self-esteem, the scientists—and the rest of us – must relearn the art of the Second Person. Let us have the modesty to become the “You” that inspires another—friends, acquaintances, colleagues, and writers encountered in unlikely places over the Internet.
Thank you, Ted Dace, for inspiring this little piece. And may you continue to be the Knight of Honorable Time, defending it from the predations of fame, finance, fortune and the fickleness of thought itself. ~ Caryl Johnston, Soul-Grammar.blogspot
- Logic of Enlightenment, The
Dave S. Henley
5.0 out of 5 stars ... which seems out of the ordinary and intriguing - like an involuntary exclamation or shout, 31 Dec. 2015
This review is from: The Logic of Enlightenment: A Cognitive Theory of Spirituality (Paperback)
having only read the preview and not yet having received the book and not usually being one to write reviews the reason for this comment is maybe just to draw attention to something which seems out of the ordinary and intriguing - like an involuntary exclamation or shout . the first words convinced me that this is a deeply insightful work which could only have been written by a person of great knowledge , unerstanding and yes even enlightenment - how do I know this ? - because it made me feel immediately unburdened and free as if transmitting the very qualities of the subject matter. the writing is beautifully simple and clear even in comparing different philosophical ideas . although I have yet to read the whole book the message seems to be that to see the world as it should be seen you must allow the world to be what it is and not to view it from limited perspective and logic ie to experience the joy of an enlightened being a new logic must sit on top of the old which is more receptive to an enlightened communication. anyone receptively interested in philosophy would find this book useful. ;) ~ Nicholas, amazon.co.uk
- Brief Peeks Beyond
In this brilliant and combative book subtitled 'critical essays on metaphysics, neuroscience, free will, skepticism and culture', Bernardo Kastrup attacks the assumption and presumption of materialism in science and society, proposing instead an understanding of the world based on the primacy of consciousness and a philosophy of monistic idealism. This involves challenging both the ontology and epistemology of modern science while pointing out that scientific materialism is of course a philosophy or ideology rather than science per se. He builds on his earlier book Materialism is Baloney and pulls no punches in putting forward his arguments and criticisms. The various essays are divided into self-contained sections that contribute to the overall argument.
His basic proposition is that there is no reality outside consciousness and that we are all manifestations of one Mind at Large (Aldous Huxley's phrase) linking us together. Materialism states that that the world is fundamentally outside consciousness, and yet consciousness is required for any awareness of the world and 'is the only carrier of reality anyone can ever know for sure.' He uses the analogy of a whirlpool, arguing that in the same way that the whirlpool doesn’t generate water, the body-brain system doesn’t generate consciousness. The brain is what consciousness looks like from the outside when observed by another person (he calls this this a second-person perspective while most writers refer to this as third-person). Put more succinctly, ‘it is the body-brain system that is in consciousness, not consciousness in the body-brain system.’
Moreover, the fact that our bodies are separate does not mean that our psyches are fundamentally separate, and there is a good deal of evidence to suggest this very connection. He sees individual human beings as localisations within a broader, transpersonal stream of experiences, similar to the view in physics that matter is a condensation of the field. Bernardo then lists some common materialistic criticisms and gives his own rebuttals, showing how in many circumstances the reasoning of materialism is circularly by assuming what it sets out to prove. He gives an interesting example of this in a debate between Sam Harris and Eben Alexander about the status of the latter’s near death experience: ‘the very fact that Alexander remembers his NDE suggests that the cortical and sub-cortical structures necessary for memory formation were active at the time’.
There is a fascinating section on psychedelics and the mind-body problem where a 2012 study found only reductions in brain activity while subjects were having vivid psychedelic experiences. This was not just a question of inhibitory processes, since the researchers observed no activation anywhere in the brain. Hence, ‘the more the drug deactivated the brain, the more intense were the subjective experiences reported by the subjects.’ This recalls Huxley’s ‘reducing valve’ metaphor and parallel work by Henri Bergson and others. The researchers themselves had trouble understanding their data, putting forward a disinhibition hypothesis prompting an email exchange and clarifying the result that more consciousness was indeed accompanied by less brain activity, indicating that the brain is a localisation of consciousness rather than its producer.
The next section takes a look at intellectual fundamentalism, defining it as a condition of undue emphasis on the rational intellect. Bernardo lists signs and symptoms, including a tendency to interpret everything literally, putting forward potential causes and risk factors that include a high academic education in science or engineering, working in academic environments and being a publicly recognized expert with, however, a lack of appreciation for the humanities and intuitive ways of knowing. In this respect, he could have mentioned the work of Ian McGilchrist since his characterization is broadly in line with exclusively left hemisphere functioning. There is also a tendency to extrapolate beyond the validity of current models. A case in point was the BBC documentary about the work in Princeton of Robert Jahn where Nobel laureate Philip Anderson dismissed Jahn’s experimental results on the basis that they could not be right if they did not fit out current expectations. Contrary to his view, these results do not invalidate the current scientific paradigm, but only call on us to revise scientific prejudices about the primacy of matter and the epiphenomenal nature of consciousness. As readers are already aware, something is defined as anomalous only in terms of theoretical expectations, which may be incomplete.
Bernardo comments that academic philosophy seems to have lost its relevance as a means of exploring the meaning of life, while many leading scientists also contend that life is meaningless. He makes the interesting cultural observation that the materialist paradigm is tightly aligned with our similarly materialistic economic system, so we are dominated by materialism and its power structures in two difference senses. This arguably encourages us to seek meaning through consumerism but leaves us with a vacuum of meaning, which we cannot survive – witness the growing proportion of mental health challenges in industrialized societies. His own contention is that ‘the only internal reality of consciousness can confer any meaning to human life.’ Towards the end, his idealistic perspective gives him an interesting take on free will and self-identity where he suggests that my choice is only free if it is determined solely by what I perceive as me.
Bernardo finishes with some practical implications of his outlook, which involve a turning inwards rather than a reliance on out things. He is surely correct in arguing that life is a journey in consciousness and nowhere else and that meaning ‘resides in the emotions and insights unfolding within.’ This view implies that death will be a change of consciousness and that the oneness of consciousness validates the possibility of psi phenomena. This is a new as well as an ancient basis for a philosophy of life and living, turning us once more towards being than doing and having – the very message of the near death experience as well. Whether they full agree with Bernardo’s arguments or not, readers will find themselves challenged to reassess their philosophy and understanding of the nature of consciousness.
~ David Lorimer, Network Review - Autumn 2015 issue
- More Than Allegory
Over the years I have felt that the limitations of mainstream religion increasingly outweigh its potential benefits, but More Than Allegory sees into its heart, enabling us to consider religion with fresh perspective and redeeming it for our generation. ~ Rupert Spira
- Citizens of the Broken Compass
Jack E. Brush
These stimulating an well-informed essays discuss ethical and religious disorientation in the age of technology, covering a wide range of topics such as consumerism, same-sex marriage, the just way, Darwin, linguistic events, human rights individual interests and the common good, and forms of atheism. The title suggests that we do not receive any reliable orientation in matters of great importance. The author uses as guidelines the ideas that here are no absolutes, that solutions are contextual, and that the resolution of complex issues requires dialogue employing complementary concepts. He suggests that we experience a disrupted relationship between time and eternity when in fact they belong together.
Brush begins by discussing consumerism and the problem of self-identity within the larger context of the 'economisation' of society, This has its roots in the 18th century but now plays a central role in establishing personal identity in terms of status symbols. As such, it is a superficial solution to the problem of identity. His discussion on same-sex marriage illuminates the radically different moral visions of the debate in the US - biblical conservativism and Enlightenment rationality. I found his essay on Darwin one the most interesting in his description of his background, specially in relation to Paley's argument for design - it is easy to forget that Darwin studied theology at Cambridge.
The influence of his grandfather Josiah Wedgwood was fundamental in shaping his understanding of competition and free markets, but he also played a role in convincing his father to allow him to embark on the Beagle.
An important theme running through three of the essays is the notion of the common good. In one context, Brush draws a parallel between the non-separability of quantum events and the holistic view of reality, remarking that 'they have their counterparts in the moral complicity of the individual and in the responsibility of all citizens fir the common good'. He criticises human rights as atomistic and individualistic, noting that the Stoic idea of natural rights was cosmic rather than individual. Hobbes made an important contribution by basing his right of nature as a claim rather than a duty, corresponding to atomism. In contrast, 'there is a connectivity of the universe that mandates a return to a more holistic view of society, specifically to the notion of common good'. In the US, the supreme individual interest is thought to be freedom, while the defining common good is security. By contrast, Brush supports Plato's view that individual interests do not provide a viable basis for society since they tend to separate citizens.
The two essays on atheism are also very helpful in formulating important distinctions, for instance between theoretical, practical and religious atheism. He maintains that 'theoretical atheism denies the ultimate; practical atheism ignores the ultimate; religious atheism trivialises the ultimate'. Atheism is always contextual, related to an individual's particular understanding of the world. Brush makes the case along with Tillich that critics of religions should attack the most advanced rather than obsolete forms of theology set up as straw men. Interestingly, drawing on Hannah Arendt's distinction between entertainment and culture, he links practical atheism with the consumption of entertainment on flat screens as a distraction. He also refers to Tillich's concept of ultimate concern - distraction lends itself to ignoring or trivalising the ultimate.
Ethically, individualism also raises the question of the limits of our moral obligation - who counts as our neighbour? At the end, Brush returns to the topic of the relationship between time and eternity, defining eternity as the experience of the fullness of time where past and future coalesce in the present. He suggests that we need a new way of experiencing relationships and a new way of experiencing the movement of time, leading to an understanding of religion as existential rather than theoretical, enriching out condition and opening up access to the divine presence. This is surely a more constructive way of moving beyond atheism, although atheists might well accept this argument while maintaining their position. The book not only provides some interesting historical background to the issues considered, but also personal reflections that we can incorporate into our own thinking and lives. ~ David Lorimer , Network Review: Journal of the Scientific and Medical Network - August issue
- Destination of the Species
- More Than Allegory
Do not kid yourself. This is no ordinary book. It is a tangle or reflexive loop in the brain of God. ... It is certainly not a book to provide your already overloaded life with yet more information or mere data. It is not about information at all. It is about the knower of any and all information. Read on, then, inside God’s brain, but be careful. You just might wake up God. ~ Jeffrey J. Kripal, Introduction of this book
- More Than Allegory
Extraordinary storytelling for our times. ~ Deepak Chopra
- Incompatible Ballerina and Other Essays
'When William Cullen, professor of medicine in Edinburgh and a celebrated philosopher in his own right (he founded the Royal Charter for the Philosophical Society, the predecessor of the Royal Society, and was the personal physician of David Hume) coined the term ‘neurosis’ and defined it as ‘a disorder of sense and motion caused by general affection’ in the eighteenth century., he could not have foreseen that at the start of the twenty-first century a young philosopher would take this concept as the basis of his reflections. But this is exactly what Charlie Johns has done. Feeling that his thoughts are determined by fundamental neurosis, he manages to reflect on a variety of themes with great insight. The reader of these four essays will find philosophical explorations of most important human themes such as desire (which he considers – as Freud does – to be the main constituting factor of man), power, language, values, morality, and finally death (the clearest opposition of desire). At the same time the constant theme of freedom comes up and the question is raised to what extent we are enslaved in a capitalist system that inhibits ‘the Real Self’’ (in a Winnicottian sense) – man then becomes a ‘body without organs’, acting as a ‘desiring machine’, as Gilles Deleuze would call it. Throughout this book, the writer quotes or refers to the great thinkers of Western Philosophy, which is enriching in itself.
As one, privileged enough to be the author’s fellow-participant in the discussions of the Philosophy Forum at the University of Lincoln, I am pleased that Charlie has been able to activate his neurosis, and have us share his personal as well as academic thoughts. From time to time readers may feel challenged in their beliefs, but it was likewise Socrates, under the name of philosophy, who challenged engrained opinions, provoking genuine and authentic thinking? ' ~ Dr Frans Lohman, Clinical Psychologist/Psychotherapist and visiting senior fellow at University of Lincoln. Latest article: Lohman, F. (2014) Hubris in Greek Philosophy, in 1914 and 2014.