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Five Thousand B.C. and Other Philosophical Fantasies

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ASIN: 0312295170


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ASIN: 0312295170

30 review for Five Thousand B.C. and Other Philosophical Fantasies

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ami Iida

    I read it last year. It is logical and philosophical for al our life.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Remy

    Due to the nature of its content, this book is much shorter than it seems. Regardless, it is quite good. There are a few puzzles and paradoxes in the miscellany, as one might expect from Smullyan, but most of the text is taken up by dialogues. An assortment of philosophers, epistemologists, moralists, theologians, ontologists, and such are invariably gathered around for whatever reason, and they quarrel over seemingly simple phenomena. I found this terribly amusing all throughout, but then philo Due to the nature of its content, this book is much shorter than it seems. Regardless, it is quite good. There are a few puzzles and paradoxes in the miscellany, as one might expect from Smullyan, but most of the text is taken up by dialogues. An assortment of philosophers, epistemologists, moralists, theologians, ontologists, and such are invariably gathered around for whatever reason, and they quarrel over seemingly simple phenomena. I found this terribly amusing all throughout, but then philosophical humor is new to me. The interlocutors often react with a sort of charming bafflement towards each other; it brings to mind a sort of scholarly archetype that I enjoy. A nice benefit of this style is that many interesting views can be expressed quickly and with great clarity. For the first half or so of this book, I was ready to give it five stars and call this my new favorite genre. Unfortunately, it quickly became apparent from then on exactly which characters and philosophical standpoints Smullyan himself identifies with. This is not necessarily a bad thing, if from the onset one has some argument to make and has decided to use dialectic methods to go about it. However, as I understood it, that was not the premise of this book. I'm not a huge fan of dialectics because the counter arguments offered by the author's foils rarely predict my own objections. Also, no matter how objective the author really is, I usually cannot escape the impression that these counters are straw men. Consequently, as soon as I realized whose corner Smullyan was in, I could no longer see each character's perspective as independent or equally valid. I still plan to read more of the author's work, and knowing his true take on things didn't ruin the book. It helps that he is a Taoist, which I find impossible to disagree with (or comprehend) anyway.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Hank Horse

    Short philosophical essays, really good stuff! One thing I like about Smullyan is that though he’s a logician and enjoys playing with logic, he recognizes when it ceases to be a useful tool. In one of the best chapters in this book, The Zen of Life and Death, Smullyan considers many different approaches to death and the possibility of an afterlife. This paragraph is characteristic: “What about the proposition, “Either I will continue existing, or I will cease to exist.” Do I believe that? My answ Short philosophical essays, really good stuff! One thing I like about Smullyan is that though he’s a logician and enjoys playing with logic, he recognizes when it ceases to be a useful tool. In one of the best chapters in this book, The Zen of Life and Death, Smullyan considers many different approaches to death and the possibility of an afterlife. This paragraph is characteristic: “What about the proposition, “Either I will continue existing, or I will cease to exist.” Do I believe that? My answer is emphatically, “NO!” Now, this might appear to be contrary to the normally accepted Aristotelian logic with its classical principle of the excluded middle. [Not Both A And Not-A] If it does, I would not feel too bad, for though I fully accept classical logic in the exact sciences, I have some doubts that it is fruitful in the present area. But I don’t believe that my drastic rejection of this apparent disjunction really does violate the law of the excluded middle. Its truth is really dependent on (at least) three tacit premises: (1) The word “I” really denotes something; (2) there really is such a thing as time; and (3) I am in time.” And he continues from there, taking the argument in unexpected directions. Smullyan’s also just plain funny, and there are lots of jokes, riddles, games and paradoxes to be found here. He’s rigorous, but there’s also a kind of humane joy in his writing: “Now, if it were true that believing in God increases the probability of salvation one iota, then I would agree that one had best believe in God. But why should this assumption be true? I tend to feel that any God who could be so hideous as to damn a soul eternally couldn’t be trusted on any issue whatsoever!” I can’t think of anyone else who so well combines the roles of logician and metaphysician (meta-physics in the sense of thinking about things that aren’t material/knowable through the senses). Some of his other books are more narrowly focused on logic puzzles, but this is the one I enjoy the most.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    Smullyan is always a joy. A down-home, playful American version of Borgesian reflection.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ioana Ioana

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. 1983, Timeless erudition ”Everything is nothing with a twist” Raymond Merrill Smullyan was an outstanding figure: logician, mathematician, puzzle maker and magician, a long-haired Richard Gere lookalike in his 40s or 50s or a contemporaneous modest Gandalf. In his interviews and writings he comes across as a humorous, remarkably nice and exceptionally believable sage. If God ever has the nerve to show up, he’d better be a Smullyan clone. And with a robe, please. I discovered Smullyan a couple of y 1983, Timeless erudition ”Everything is nothing with a twist” Raymond Merrill Smullyan was an outstanding figure: logician, mathematician, puzzle maker and magician, a long-haired Richard Gere lookalike in his 40s or 50s or a contemporaneous modest Gandalf. In his interviews and writings he comes across as a humorous, remarkably nice and exceptionally believable sage. If God ever has the nerve to show up, he’d better be a Smullyan clone. And with a robe, please. I discovered Smullyan a couple of years ago, having read Is God a Taoist http://www.mit.edu/people/dpolicar/wr..., one of the most enjoyable philosophical dialogue on the topic of free will. I knew in the back of my mind that I HAD to read more of his books, but the thought laid dormant until last week, when I was scanning the shelves of a bookstore and got lost somewhat cluelessly in front of a ridiculous number of choices, given my time. A glimpse of Smullyan’s name helped me remove the trouble. Nothing short of mind bending, his writings are playful inquiries on a multitude of philosophical theories (with ontological implications likely unknown to the reader), from logical positivism to taoism, zen buddhism or the semantic nightmare known as solipsism. The takeaway is obvious: intuition is both our demise and our salvation and Imagination is the fastest means of transportation between the two. In 5000 B.C., Smullyan convokes moralists, skeptics, epistemologists, positivists, metaphysicians, and your down to earth Franks. The more it progresses, the more hilarious the dialogues become. The simple question why do you tell the truth morphs into a conundrum fueled by the moralist’s unappealing dogmatism. At least Frank is franc - he tells the truth because he must rise to the level of expectations for a Frank-named man. One after another, each argument fails to win our full acceptance, until the utility of the purpose itself is questioned. Must we really need a purpose to tell the truth? Does a tree need a purpose to grow? I for one would argue that the concept of moral justice is ostensibly instilled a priori in the spirit and am therefore not surprised similar justice systems were independently set up all over the world, as Kant remarked in his essay on Perpetual Peace. In Dream or reality? the clearer the boundaries between reality and dream become, the faster we must accept the plurality of realities. We are so vulnerable in face of Probabilities! And impermanence suddenly creeps up on us, reminding us how all things in our dream disappear when we wake up - were it not for the non-sequentiality how would we differentiate between the two conditions?...what guards us from “waking” up in a third reality, more real than the two we’ve experienced before? If we are ready to equate reality with permanence, we step in murky waters. One day, this state of being might be considered unreal, is what is implied. As Smullyan puts it: For me, it remains an open possibility that each condition may be considered real or unreal in comparison with another condition. Zen of life and death is the ninth chapter, one I particularly enjoyed. The thing about Smullyan is that he is knowledgeable enough to bring some beautiful imagery to the thought experiments: a ray of lights reflecting innumerable images through the facets of a crystal- all distorted versions of the same point. Such are our individual egos - multiple manifestations of an underlining universal ego. The individual death is equivalent to covering one facet and birth is the apparition of a new one. This process never interferes with the original source of light which doesn’t switch (I’m doing a hack job in explaining this amazing part...sigh..but hope you get the gist of it). A great reason to learn about the Vedas (I’ve made a note to get started). The sad thing is that the fountain of causality is indomitably poisoned..Guess its all been a mess since the frailty or absurdity of axiomatic scaffolding has been discovered. Is anything still standing? What remains? If we can’t fix it, might as well... (?) Smullyan has great merit in managing to instill curiosity with ease and stir up forms of conventional wisdom without being a scary prick or a sophisticated bore (no wonder Asimov was awed by his books, both of them having impeccable logic). Despite the abyssal depths he probes in his essays, they reinvigorate and stimulate the mind. It’s like you’re hit in a face with an elephant, gently. An inviting book I hope to reread and an author I greatly admire, a wonderful teacher! This world is missing out, it needs more Smullyans...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Neven

    An interesting, jumbled-up collection of essays, dialogs, aphorisms, and puzzles. It approaches all sorts of philosophical questions from all different directions, so in the end you may be left scratching your head, wondering just what it is you've been reading this whole time. In that, it's a bit like how people often describe the experience of reading Hofstasdter's 'Gödel, Escher, Bach'. While this isn't nearly as ambitious or virtuousic as that, it's a fun book written in a likable, approacha An interesting, jumbled-up collection of essays, dialogs, aphorisms, and puzzles. It approaches all sorts of philosophical questions from all different directions, so in the end you may be left scratching your head, wondering just what it is you've been reading this whole time. In that, it's a bit like how people often describe the experience of reading Hofstasdter's 'Gödel, Escher, Bach'. While this isn't nearly as ambitious or virtuousic as that, it's a fun book written in a likable, approachable voice. I'll definitely check out Smullyan's other works.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Swarner

    Raymond Smullyan is my Logician Dumbledore. I own and read every book of his I can get my hands on. Which is well over a dozen.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tom Quinn

    Playful, mind-bending fun. Highly recommended, as Smullyan always is, but not a good introduction to his work. I found this collection of dialogues, essays, and philosophical one-liners less gratifying than his puzzle-centric titles. Plus I distinctly remember seeing some of these riddles/jokes/anecdotes in some of his other books. 3 stars out of 5.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Zorn Rose

    Whimsical, thought-provoking, and well-argued. (Although I like moralists more than Smullyan does)

  10. 5 out of 5

    Maurizio Codogno

    Questo libro di Smullyan è un po' diverso dalla sua usuale produzione per così dire "ricreativa". Non abbiamo infatti, se non in minima parte, problemini logici: il grosso del testo consiste in dialoghi ("multiloghi"? i personaggi sono davvero tanti) filosofici, dove l'autore mostra come bisogna stare molto attenti a definire le cose perché altrimenti c'è sempre qualcuno che se la prende con noi e ci dimostra che abbiamo sbagliato tutto. La mia sensazione (personale) è che però i dialoghi sono sì Questo libro di Smullyan è un po' diverso dalla sua usuale produzione per così dire "ricreativa". Non abbiamo infatti, se non in minima parte, problemini logici: il grosso del testo consiste in dialoghi ("multiloghi"? i personaggi sono davvero tanti) filosofici, dove l'autore mostra come bisogna stare molto attenti a definire le cose perché altrimenti c'è sempre qualcuno che se la prende con noi e ci dimostra che abbiamo sbagliato tutto. La mia sensazione (personale) è che però i dialoghi sono sì divertenti da leggere ma troppo lunghi, e quindi dopo un po' ci si perde e non ci si ricorda più di cosa si stesse parlando all'inizio. Probabilmente Smullyan ha ragione nel dire che funzionano meglio come pezzi teatrali; d'altra parte se non avete fretta e siete interessati a vedere cos'è la filosofia da un punto di vista più terra terra rispetto a come viene di solito insegnata a scuola direi che questo è il libro che fa per voi.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jmvv

    Simplicus viene a ser una especie de arquetipo humano o en lo que me quisiera convertir, porque como quiero vivir en completo albedrío, sin temores a castigos sin esperanzas a premios, vivir en ética, que como Borges piensa, es a lo mejor la corroboración de que si el sistema de nuestras acciones, pueden ser buenas o malas, según su particular forma de ordenarse, un excelente libro...

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dmk

    It one of the best books I've ever read. There are funny phi-fi stories (it somethink like sci-fi but it's about philosophie, not about science). It gives you knowledge about lots of philosophical themes but it also very funny and original. It one of the best books I've ever read. There are funny phi-fi stories (it somethink like sci-fi but it's about philosophie, not about science). It gives you knowledge about lots of philosophical themes but it also very funny and original.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Amir

    You will find interesting philosophical musings in this book mixed with sci-fi fantasy and presented with humor. This (together with another book by Smullyan) is, in my opinion, the best book that I have read in a decade...

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    Logic problems, rarely-used cliches, and short essays on time, identity, death, and so on, written with humor and an unusual point of view. This is the kind of philosophy book you can take to the beach, highly recommended.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Liedzeit

    Schöne Carnap Anekdote: Nach einem Zaubertrick sagt er: Ich hätte nicht gedacht, daß das in irgendeiner Welt möglich wäre, geschweige in dieser.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Navlyn Wang

    I used to love Raymond Smullyan's logic puzzle books, but this one is one of my earliest introduction to philosophy and it is delightful. I still refer to some examples from the book today! I used to love Raymond Smullyan's logic puzzle books, but this one is one of my earliest introduction to philosophy and it is delightful. I still refer to some examples from the book today!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Vasanth

    philosophical humour...you will love this if you have some interest in philosophy..

  18. 5 out of 5

    Stephan Anstey

    I thoroughly enjoyed the puzzles. This makes philosophy fun.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Isk

    Smullyan's like a Hofstadter who writes shorter stuff. Part 4 ("To be or not to be?") is pretty stupid, but the rest contains some gems. I especially liked his proof of Goedel's Theorem. Smullyan's like a Hofstadter who writes shorter stuff. Part 4 ("To be or not to be?") is pretty stupid, but the rest contains some gems. I especially liked his proof of Goedel's Theorem.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Deniz Yuret

    http://denizyuret.blogspot.com/2005/0... http://denizyuret.blogspot.com/2005/0...

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mosh Mosh

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lawrence

  23. 5 out of 5

    Hervizinve

  24. 4 out of 5

    Chant

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rob Weinstein

  26. 4 out of 5

    Alienindie

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ankur

  28. 5 out of 5

    Hal Johnson

  29. 4 out of 5

    Egli

  30. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Gorter

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