RECENT REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS
- Mental Penguins
This important study explores the social and educational consequences of digital immersion for modified brain structure and intellectual capacity.Essential reading for education departments around the world and anyone concerned with the future of education and the development of our children. ~ David Lorimer, Paradigm Explorer
- Pandeism: An Anthology
Few readers will have heard of the term "pandeism", the proposition that the Creator of our Universe created by becoming our Universe, but this extensive anthology fills the gap. There are many good analytical essays in this volume. A stimulating collection articulating an interesting viewpoint. ~ David Lorimer, Paradigm Explorer
- Logic of Enlightenment, The
Dave S. Henley
Subtitled ‘a cognitive theory of spirituality’, this searching and analytical book should, according to its own argument, have been subtitled ‘a non-conceptual theory of spirituality.’ It ranges over philosophical and spiritual themes from East and West involving our fundamental orientation in life, the nature of the self, paradox and meaning. Writers like Tolstoy have arrived at the limits of logic and rationality and suffer a loss of meaning that can only be transcended through a new form of perception and understanding as given in mystical experience, which the author explores. The self is recontextualised within the Self, the separation inherent in the mental and conceptual is transcended. This process highlights the limitations of Western philosophy, encapsulated in the Upanishads: ‘that which is not comprehended by the mind but by which the mind comprehends - know that to be Brahman.’ Meister Eckhart realised this, but not Descartes or David Hume. They did not arrive at a state of pure consciousness, which is the underlying feature of meditation. Henley explores the nature of paradox and contradiction, and it is here that there is a large gap in his reading, namely Iain McGilchrist’s work The Master and his Emissary, with its discussion of the different capacities of the left and right hemispheres of the brain. Paradoxes are generated by the very operating system of the left hemisphere, but can be understood intuitively by the right (the same applies to jokes). So part of the argument attributed solely to mystical experience can also be resolved by understanding the relative roles of the hemispheres. The rest has to do with the development of self-awareness through spiritual practice that transcends thought so as to allow a direct experience of pure consciousness or the Tao or Atman. This is not so much a conceptual change (p. 146) as a move beyond concepts and indeed the existential choices of continental philosophy (although, as he points out, it is related to the fall and redemption of man). So the level of enlightenment involves ‘not only knowing who you are, but also a higher form of intelligence’ (p. 205). Given that enlightenment is by definition inconceivable, it can only be represented by symbols, which is what religions have done. For Henley, the path involves surrendering the primacy of conceptual thought (of which this book is full!) and taking up a spiritual practice that puts one consciously on the path. This is a stimulating exploration for readers conditioned by Western rationality. ~ David Lorimer, Paradigm Explorer
- In the Absence of Human Beauty
Matthew Alun Ray
Subtitled ‘philosophical fragments’ – an apt description of the episodic and at times gnomic content - this book sounds rather like Wittgenstein in opening with the sentence that ‘It is not that our search for satisfaction has its limits, but that satisfaction is itself a limit.’ Later on the same page we have ‘that which is now no longer exists. It never did.’ Neither of these two fragments has an accompanying commentary, which is the case with many of the others, and mystics would certainly disagree with the second statement. In the course of these explorations, many of which are devoted to the theme of the Other, the author engages with Heidegger, Schopenhauer, Levinas, Nietzsche and others. In bridging the gap (p. 38), Ray feels that non-conceptual experience or feeling is more important than knowledge; and between the philosophical musings are other fragments of the life of a couple wrestling with some of the same issues, as well as with language. There are many stimulating lines of thought for philosophically minded readers. ~ David Lorimer, Paradigm Explorer
- On Being Human
Michael N. Marsh
. Michael Marsh has an interesting background as University lecturer in medicine and consulting gastroenterologist specialising in immunopathology. He returned to Oxford to do a degree in theology and wrote his D Phil thesis on near death and out of body experiences, published in 2010. Unfortunately, I did not see this book at the time. This new book reflects his interest in ethical outcomes of medical practice and biomedical research. It deals with the four D’s of distinctiveness, dignity, disability and disposal, and encompasses a vast range of theoretical and practical issues. The first part draws on evolutionary anthropology, genetics and epigenetics, consciousness studies and the acquisition of language to build up a picture of human distinctiveness. Under dignity, he discusses theological approaches to personhood and the question of whether moral status can be ascribed to the human embryo/foetus. In this regard, he goes back to the Warnock report of the mid-1980s and argues for the bold position of ascribing moral status from the moment of conception as a human being with a unique genome. Being disabled, dysfunctional or disfigured should have no bearing on basic human dignity. Under disposal, he considers abortion and infanticide at one end of life, and assisted death and suicide at the other. He comes up with his own well argued case while sounding appropriate cautionary notes. Both the introduction and final resumé give very clear account of his argument and enhance the reader’s understanding about the depth of being human. As an aside, I find it interesting that he gave an example of ‘presence in absence’ by speaking about a visit from his grown children where the conversation revolves around the practical what rather than the deeper who, and one is left wondering how well one still knows them. Anyone deeply concerned with these ethical issues will be greatly enriched by reading this careful book. ~ David Lorimer, Paradigm Explorer
- Is Intelligence an Algorithm?
I began this book expecting it to be an analysis of how intelligence was an algorithm. But don't let the title fool you. This book is sooo much more! It's actually an exploration of intelligence itself and all things related. Not only what it is. And how how it relates to our own emotions, reasoning, intuition, and the hard problem of consciousness itself. But also how we can utilize our own intelligence in the most optimal fashion (with profound strategies given in a clear and readable way). As well as an exciting exploration of the future of intelligence as it relates to artificial intelligence and artificial consciousness.
So, I fully recommend this as a great read to anyone interested in the fields of intelligence, artificial intelligence, consciousness, futurism, and/or transhumanism. And it's worth a read based on its novel breakdown of the 'webmind' alone as well as the fact that it is full of such incredibly useful ideas as 'e-prime language'. Which I will be eternally thankful to this book for introducing me to.
~ Jonathan Jones, NetGalley
- Is Intelligence an Algorithm?
As a metaphysical artist, I found this book very stimulating. Mediating a middle path between metaphysics and A.I. so the each informs the other is a skillful trick to pull off. This author does it exceedingly well. I found validation for long held principles, new approaches to familiar ideas as well as entirely novel and lucid offerings. This book arrives at a time when boundaries between of materialist science, metaphysics and A.I. are merging into each other largely due to the advent of the internet, itself a macroscopic nervous system – also a notion explored in the book. Applying the language of A.I. to the topic of Consciousness is appropriate for the age we live in and this book does it very well. Guaranteed to generate a state change at a time when a new paradigm in our understanding of Consciousness is dawning. This book helped me to achieve clarity - science is for how, metaphysics is for why, and we need to ask both.
~ Alan McDonald, NetGally
- Western Philosophy Made Easy
Praise for Dennis Waite's best-selling title Back to the Truth: 'A profoundly astute and masterful guide to the field of Self-discovery. An authoritative scholar, Dennis writes with supreme clarity as he skilfully expounds, logically analyzes and insightfully integrates the wisdom of classical and contemporary teachers with the principles of Advaita.' ~ Katie Davis, author of Awake Living Joy: The Essence of Spiritual Enlightenment
- Is Intelligence an Algorithm?
As a researcher in data science and management area, for me reading Tuynman’s ‘ Is intelligence an Algorithm’ was a refreshing break from other books in similar domain which are usually dominated by mathematics or computer science . In contrast with them, Tuynman provides a holistic perspective backed by solid research, on various dimensions of intelligence and how nature, humans and now computers take an algorithmic approach to solve any old or new problems. Illustrated in lucid manner, there are multiple practical techniques and heuristics explained in the book which can be directly applied in our day to day lives. Among them a structured template for writing informative articles is something which I have already started to apply in my own works.
It was interesting that author did gave enough stress on Emotional intelligence, as this is something which is usually not explained in detail in other books of this domain, but is important factor in almost all the decision making process of conscious beings . Authors take on Artificial Pathologies or computers gone wild as I like to call them, was interesting and amusing and touched the realm of science fiction, though it is getting very much real possibility day by day.
The book does touches upon non-algorithmic activities like Intuition too, connecting it with topics like quantum mechanics and collective consciousness, but I think they could have been discussed in more detail given the complexity of those ideas.
Overall I would recommend this book to all the readers who are interested in topics like consciousness , and how do we make sense of what is around us , and also want to explore the various aspects of problem solving skills in a structured format , either by humans or machines .
~ Abhishek S, NetGalley
- Is Intelligence an Algorithm?
I’m a big fan of Antonin Tuynman's writing. I particularly like his willingness to marry far-future technology with ancient religious and philosophical thought, such as Vedanta. He is also one of the most adept futurists in exploring fringe concepts and ideas, from quantum computers to the Singularity and the Simulation hypothesis. His latest work caught me by surprise. Initially, I was a little disappointed that some of the cool tech concepts toned down. But, the payoff for me was that this is Antonin's most accessible work. It's not just accessible, it's practical. Instead of just discussing algorithms and intelligence, he gives you advice on how to use the information, including how these algorithms can improve your own reasoning abilities and memory skills.
The book is also a primer if you're interested -- or worried about -- the coming wave of AI-driven technologies.
Later, he does discuss the wider implications of his findings.
All said, it's a must read for those thinking hard about the ever-increasing effect that intelligence and artificial intelligence will have on our lives and our future.
~ Matt Swayne, NetGalley
- Is Intelligence an Algorithm?
A WOW book by the digital philosopher Antonin Tuynman! Written for the lay audience in a clear and precise language, oftentimes in a matter-of-fact fashion. Thought-provoking, original and delightfully enlightening! It's one of those books that one can find insights on every page. In this book, Tuynman tries to define intelligence through the lens of digital philosophy, presents his well-grounded hypothesis that intelligence functions as a kind of algorithm, and gives us practical advice how to improve our own intelligence and problem-solving skills. In the last few chapters, that I personally find the most fascinating part of the book, the author goes more technical with clear-cut recommendations how to create artificial consciousness. Inspired by works of other prominent thinkers in the field, the author argues that emergence is the key to evolution towards higher complexity, and why sooner rather than later, we should see the emergence of self-aware Global Brain, Webmind. Besides being a great read that I could recommend to anyone, the book is referenced, cross-referenced and an excellent quick reference resource by itself. ~ Alexander Vikoulov, NetGalley
- Is Intelligence an Algorithm?
I enjoyed reading Tuynman's this new book. Many essential topics for intelligence well-weaved together in a compact volume.
Tuynman first goes about laying out what counts as algorithm. Then he draws its ramification for intellience in general, as well as for A.I..He eventually moves on to discuss intuition as the sphere of intelligence not lending itself to an algorithmic construction. For Tuynman intuition reflects a vast entanglement working across collective consciousness of the human species, and as such it functions beyond the realm of algorithm.
I would recommend it to anyone who wants to pick up some central issues of intelligence and consciousness and their relevance to A.I..
~ Jay Kimoooyoung, NetGalley
- 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