I’ve gone through a period of reading some rather poorly-chosen books. After completing Toland’s biography of Hitler – a book I first read in high school during my first fascination with the second world war – I turned back to what I hoped would be philosophical reading. I first read Aristotle’s Rhetoric. This I found to be “Aristotelean” in the sense of there being an overall logical approach to the subject, but certainly not inspirational, nor particularly enlightening.
From there, I decided to read Francis Bacon’s Essays, including New Atlantis. It is hard to imagine that the same thinker who is credited with describing the scientific method, and is believed by some to have been the actual Shakespeare, could have written such drivel. At best, the essays are completely uninteresting. The few that have any meaningful content are overwhelmed with a very negative religious message. Perhaps the clearest statement of this religious message is his essay on Ambition, which is described essentially as a sin. Now I’d be willing to write off these essays – which are among his first published works – as coming from a young thinker. However, New Atlantis – written some 30 years later near the end of his career – is only marginally better in its message, although notably it is only a fragment of an unfinished allegory (and I can’t understand why it is considered an important work at all).
Following this unfortunate choice, I picked up a book on “the philosophy of science” that (as with most of the books I read) I found at a library book sale. This is a collection of essays by various un-famous authors writing in the 1940s and 1950s. To my dismay, I found that the center point of all of the essays I read in this book was how Relativity and Quantum Mechanics should change our viewpoint on the metaphysics of the world around us. I didn’t get far into this before stopping and putting it away.