Top Books/Videos for SHANANNAREEFERS

(updated October 31, 2009)


Seekers Humanists Atheists Naturalists
Agnostics Nonreligionists Nontheists Antireligionists
Realists Educationalists Experimentalists Freethinkers
nlightened Rationalists Secularists

- - - Books Added on October 31, 2009 - - -

026. The Conquest of Happiness,
by Bertrand Russell
"... A few quotes from the book:
  • ... 'To be without some of the things you want is
    an indispensable part of happiness.'

  • ... 'The habit of looking to the future and thinking
    that the whole meaning of the present lies in what
    it will bring forth is a pernicious one. There can be
    no value in the whole unless there is value in the

  • ... 'I do not deny that the feeling of success makes
    it easier to enjoy life.... Nor do I deny that money,
    up to a certain point, is very capable of increasing
    happiness. What I do maintain is that success can
    only be one ingredient in happiness, and is too
    dearly purchased if all the other ingredients have
    been sacrificed to obtain it.'

  • ... 'No satisfaction based upon self-deception is
    solid, and however unpleasant the truth may be,
    it is better to face it once and for all, to get used
    to it, and to proceed to build your life in accordance
    with it.'

  • ... 'One should respect public opinion in so far as
    is necessary to avoid starvation and to keep out
    of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is vol-
    unitary submission to an unnecessary tyranny, and
    is likely to interfere with happiness in all kinds of
    ways.' ..."

025. Exuberant Skepticism,
by Paul Kurtz
"... For over three decades, philosopher Paul Kurtz
has been a strong advocate of skepticism, not only
as a philosophical position, but also as a fulfilling
way of life. Contrary to the view that skepticism is
merely a negative, nay saying, or debunking stance
toward commonly held beliefs, skepticism as defined
by Kurtz emerges reborn as 'skeptical inquiry' - a
decidedly positive philosophy ready and able to
change the world.

In this definitive collection, editor John R Shook
has gathered together seventeen of Paul Kurtz's
most penetrating and insightful writings. Altogether
these essays build an affirmative case for what can
be known based on sound common sense, reason,
and scientific method. ...

The work is organized in four topical sections. In the
first, 'Reasons to Be Skeptical', Kurtz presents com-
pelling reasons why the methods of inquiry used by
the sciences deserve respect. In short, science pro-
vides reliable knowledge, without which humanity
would never have emerged from the age of myth
and widespread ignorance.

In the second section, 'Skepticism and the Non-
Natural', Kurtz shows how skeptical inquiry can be
fruitfully used to critique both paranormal claims and
religious worldviews. He also investigates whether
science and religion can be compatible.

In the third section, 'Skepticism in the Human World',
he considers how skeptical inquiry can be applied to
politics, ethics, and pursuit of the good life. Realizing
the essential connections between scientific know-
ledge, technological power, and social progress,
Kurtz has understood, as few other philosophers
ever have, how the methods of intelligence can be
applied to all areas of human endeavor.

The volume concludes with Kurtz's authoritative re-
flections on the skeptical movement that he founded
and has led. As he never tires of explaining, the forces
of blind faith and stubborn unreason still fight for con-
trol of the mind, so the skeptic can never rest.

If there is a brighter future for humanity, a future in
which every person enjoys a realistic opportunity
for the pursuit of excellence, Kurtz's exuberant skep-
ticism can show us the way. ..."

024. Seeking the Truth : How Science Has
Prevailed over the Supernatural Worldview,
by Richard H. Schlagel
"... In this sweeping intellectual history, philosopher
Richard H Schlagel compares the conceptual world-
views of science and religion, their distinct historical
origins, their radically different experiential founda-
tions, and their contrasting methods of justification.

With great clarity and an impressive command of
the historical facts, he depicts Western civilization
as a composite of two diverse traditions - the
empirical-rationalistic perspective of the ancient
Greek philosophers and the mystical-revelatory
approach of Judeo-Christian religion.

Today, science, the inheritor of the Greek empir-
ical-rationalistic approach, is clearly in the ascen-
dancy. Looking to the future, Schlagel argues
that scientific inquiry is clearly superior to faith in
ancient religious doctrines to cope with the chal-
lenges of climate change, energy sources, envir-
onmental protection, population increases, and
the global economy.

He concludes that the health of democratic soci-
eties will depend, in large part, on an educated
citizenry that appreciates the importance of sci-
ence and recognizes the retrograde tendencies
of the fundamentalist mindset both in the United
States and abroad. ..."

023. Awakening : An Introduction to
the History of Eastern Thought,
by Patrick S. Bresnan
"... provides an exceptionally complete overview
of the historical development of the major Eastern
traditions of religious and philosophical thought (in
India, China, and Japan.). ... guides learners in
recognizing the interrelationships that exist among
the various systems, appreciating the relevance of
these traditions to the concerns of modern times,
and understanding the major issues of interpretation
regarding these systems.

The traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism are broad
umbrellas that include a number of specific schools,
each of which is treated individually. Other traditions
– such as Confucianism, Daoism, and Shinto – are
brought into the story at the appropriate place.

Owing to the current high degree of interest in the
subject, the historical development of Zen Buddhism
receives a bit more attention than the other traditions.
For anyone interested in and excited by the ideas
and histories of Eastern thought. ..."

022. A Beginner's Guide to Philosophy,
by Dominique Janicaud
"... introduces readers to the basics of Western
philosophy. From the stylings of pre-Socratic
thinkers to the work of Plato and Aristotle, to
an overview of more modern philosophers such
as Descartes, Nietzsche, Kant, and Hegel, A
Beginner's Guide to Philosophy touches upon
the quandaries that have hounded thinkers
throughout history ..."

021. The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy,
by Simon Blackburn
"... Eastern and Western philosophy (with emphasis
on the latter), all the main subdivisions of philosophy,
terminology from other disciplines that is significant
in philosophical discussion, and major historical
figures. ..."

020. The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy,
by Robert Audi
"... The first edition ... quickly established itself as
one of the preeminent reference sources in the field.
The second edition is significantly larger, including
400 new entries, many on non-Western and non-
European philosophy.

A noteworthy change from the first edition is the
inclusion of some 50 entries on living philosophers,
and much attention has been paid to rapidly devel-
oping fields such as bioethics and political philo-
sophy. Many of the existing entries have been
expanded ..."

019. Wikipedia (The Free Encyclopedia)
Philosophy Portal, by User Contributions

"... Though the etymology of the word 'Philosophy' provides a simple definition, philosophy has almost
as many definitions — and methods — as it does
practitioners. It is at once an activity and an object
of contemplation.

Individual philosophers often define philosophy as
such according to their particular philosophical views.
As a result, no definition of philosophy currently
enjoys universal agreement. ...

The etymology of the word 'philosophy' is Greek.
The word comes from the terms philo- (to love or
to befriend) and -sophia (wisdom). ..."

- - - Videos Added on October 31, 2009 - - -

018. DVD : 60 Minutes - The Pursuit of Happiness

017. Pro-Humanist FREELOVER Posts which
include videos pertaining to Philosophy
(as of October 31, 2009)

- - - Books from the 1999 & 2000 Versions of this post - - -

016. Why I Am Not a Christian, and Other
Essays on Religion and Related Subjects,
by Bertrand Arthur Russell
"... Great book, solid arguments, a challenge to
believers. Russell's easy-to-understand logic
dominates the work, presenting an almost water-
tight case against contemporary mythology. Chris-
tians of the world beware: this book will change
your life forever.

015. The Problems of Philosophy,
by Bertrand Arthur Russell
"... Bertrand Russell at his best. He is discussing
different aspects of philosophy and why you need
philosophy. This is a very good starting point for
further philosophical readings.

014. A History of Western Philosophy and
Its Connection With Political and Social
Circumstances from the Earliest Times to
the Present Day, by Bertrand Russell
"... Universally acclaimed as the outstanding one-
volume work on the subject -- unparalleled in its
comprehensiveness, its clarity, its erudition, its
grace and wit. In seventy-six chapters he traces
philosophy from the rise of Greek civilization to
the emergence of logical analysis in the twentieth
century. ..."

013. Story of Philosophy: The Lives and
Opinions of the World's Greatest Philosophers,
by Will Durant
"... Will Durant breathes life into philosophers and
their ideas. He is colorful, witty, and above all,
informative. Beginning with Socrates and ending
with American philosopher John Dewey, Durant
summarizes the lives and influence of philosophy's
greatest thinkers, painting them with humanity and
adding a few of his own wise platitudes. ..."

012. God and Evil: An Introduction to
the Issues, by Michael Peterson
"... This concise survey examines the problem of
evil in the context of the philosophy of religion. The
main problem of evil consists in reconciling belief in
a just and loving God with evil and suffering in the
world. ..."

011. The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature
of Mass Movements, by Eric Hoffer
"... As we try to make sense of our world, it helps
to explore the wisdom of people like Eric Hoffer.
Known as the longshoreman philosopher, Hoffer
had virtually no formal education, yet his awareness
of the human condition was exceptional. ...

Here are just a few of Eric Hoffer's observations:

'The less justified a man is in claiming excellence
for his own self, the more ready he is to claim all
excellence for his nation, his religion, his race or
his holy cause.'

'A man is likely to mind his own business when it
is worth minding. When it is not, he takes his mind
off his own meaningless affairs by minding other
peoples' business.' ..."

010. The Book : On the Taboo Against
Knowing Who You Are, by Alan Watts
"... Modern Western culture and technology is
inextricably tied to the belief in the existence of
a self as a separate ego, separated from and in
conflict with the rest of the world. In this classic
book, Watts provides a lucid and simple presen-
tation of an alternative view based on Hindi and
Vedantic philosophy. ..."

009. This Is It, and Other Essays on Zen and
Spiritual Experience, by Alan Watts
"... Have a ball and call it Earth! Alan Watts will
remove the scales of anxiety and doubt from the
eyes of anyone who suffers from the 'daily-ness'
of life. His clarity and exuberance of mind refreshes
the spirit and refills the fuel tank of hope for the
journey through 'now'! ...

Excerpt from the beginning of the book: ... 'cosmic
consciousness ... The central core of the experience
seems to be the conviction, or insight, that the imme-
diate now, whatever its nature, is the goal and ful-
fillment of all living' ..."

008. Nature, Man and Woman, by Alan Watts
"... A provocative and enduring work that re-
examines humanity's place in the natural world
-- and the spirit's relation to the flesh -- in the
light of Chinese Taoism.

That human beings stand separate from a nature
that must be controlled, that the mind is somehow
superior to the body, and that all sexuality entails
a seduction -- a danger and a problem -- are all
assumptions upon which much of Western thought
and culture is based. And all of them in some way
underlie our exploitation of the earth, our distrust
of emotion, and our loneliness and reluctance to
love. ..."

007. The Wisdom of Insecurity : A Message
for an Age of Anxiety, by Alan Watts
"... If you're scared to challenge beliefs you've
always held to be true, don't touch this book. If
you're ready to think about things in a way most
people don't, this book could put you right on
a path that's so fresh and inspiring, it's lead me
to read every book Watts wrote and explore the
various Eastern religions he always refers to.

The Wisdom of Insecurity discusses extremely
foreign and complex concepts in a way that is
beautiful to read and calming to imagine. ...

Telling excerpt from the book: 'If happiness
always depends on the future, we are chasing
a will-o-the-wisp that ever eludes our grasp,
until the future,and ourselves,vanish in the abyss
of death.'

'tomorrow and plans for tomorrow can have no
significance at all unless you are in full contact
with the reality of the present,since it is in the
present and only in the present that you live.
There is no other reality than present reality, so
that, even if one were to live for endless ages,
to live for the future would be to miss the point
everlastingly.' ..."

006. The Way of Zen, by Alan Watts
"... Watts takes the reader back to the philoso-
phical foundations of Zen in the conceptual
world of Hinduism, follows Buddhism's course
through the development of the early Mahayana
school, the birth of Zen from Buddhism's mar-
riage with Chinese Taoism, and on to Zen's
unique expression in Japanese art and life. ..."

005. The Art of Happiness : A Handbook
for Living, by Dalai Lama
"... The Dalai Lama's most salient traits are his great
beaming smile and hearty laugh, spontaneous expres-
sions of happiness that inspired Cutler, a psychiatrist,
to initiate what evolved into a long and productive
series of conversations about what aspects of Bud-
dhist thought could help non-Buddhists achieve a
sense of fulfillment. ..."

004. Essential Confucius,
by Thomas Cleary (Translator)
"... Cleary's translation captures all the simplicity
and directness of Confucius's eminently practical
approach to life: 'Be dutiful at home, brotherly
in public; be discreet and trustworthy, love all
people, and draw near to humanity. If you have
extra energy as you do that, then study literature.'
The introduction provides solid philosophical
and historical background, and notes on each
of the 64 sections provide further insight into
the subtleties of Confucian wisdom. ..."

003. The Tao of Pooh and the Te of Piglet [boxed set],
by Benjamin Hoff

"... This elegant and well-written volume ... along
with its sequel The Te of Piglet is perhaps one of
the finest pieces of writing about Taoism in the
West. ... The book was so pleasurable, so well-
written, and so intriguing I kept thinking and imag-
ining all the different concepts of Taoism that this
book introduces me to. Wu Wei or effortless
action; living in harmony with nature; Nowhere
and Nothing; the importance of the present; the
extreme alienation we in the West create for our-
selves by being constantly busy. ...

... If you like Pooh and feel intrigued with Eastern
Philosophy, you will find a pleasurable reading in
this masterpiece that was the first to recognize this
beautiful match. ...

... The book covers the Taoist principles of:
  • Tao, or the indescribable Way of the universe,
  • P'u, or natural simplicity, 
  • the Uncarved Block,
  • Inner Nature, being those things that make us
    exactly who we are,
  • Wu Wei, or proceeding without doing, causing,
    or making,
  • Tzu Jan, or 'self so', meaning that things happen
    by themselves, spontaneously,
  • Tz'u, or caring and compassion,
  • and
  • T'ai Hsu, or the Great Nothing. ..."

002. Beyond Civilization : Humanity's Next
Great Adventure, by Daniel Quinn
"... Quinn asks the radical yet fundamental questions
about humanity such as, Why does civilization grow
food, lock it up, and then make people earn money
to buy it back? Why not progress 'beyond civilization'
and abandon the hierarchical lifestyles that cause
many of our social problems?

He challenges the 'old mind' thinking that believes
problems should be fixed with social programs. 'Old
minds think: How do we stop these bad things from
happening?' Quinn writes. 'New minds think: How
do we make things the way we want them to be?' ..."

001. The Communist Manifesto,
by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
"... In the 150 years since its publication, no other
treatise has inspired such a dividing and violent
debate, and after the recent collapse of several
regimes which had initially embraced it, a retro-
spective interpretation of the essential ideas it
advocates is presented in this comprehensive
volume. ..."