I’ve been tagged with a meme, even though I still have an earlier meme I haven’t got to yet. John Hobbins draws attention to Foreign Policy’s top 100 intellectuals. I am at least vaguely familiar with the writings and/or work of less than half of them – which isn’t good, I presume!
John Hobbins (who apparently has a different idea of “fun” than most other people I know) suggests that we do the following with the top 100: (1) a list of all those I could carry on a conversation with based on things I’ve read by them; (2) a list of those I’ve spoken with in person or corresponded with; (3) authors any self-respecting intellectual must read if she hasn’t already.
(1) Amartya Sen, Samuel Huntington, Peter Singer, Martha Nussbaum, Michael Ignatieff, Lee Smolin, Niall Ferguson, Robert Kagan, Daniel Barenboim, Thomas Friedman, Garry Kasparov, David Petraeus, Michael Spence, Pope Benedict XVI, Francis Fukuyama, Steven Pinker, Richard Posner, Charles Taylor, Howard Gardner, Noam Chomsky, J. Craig Venter, Al Gore, V. S. Ramachandran, Richard Dawkins, E. O. Wilson, Bernard Lewis, Daniel Dennett, Juergen Habermas, James Lovelock, Salman Rushdie, Vaclav Havel, Christopher Hitchens, Slavoj Zizek. In some cases, the conversation would be short, and would go something like “Oh hi, nice to meet you, I read something by you a long time ago, I can’t remember what it was called, or the details of what it was about, but it was really good…”
(2) V. S. Ramachandran (spoke at Butler). I clearly do not hobnob with the upper crust of intellectualism on this planet, although I do read their books, and articles, and watch them on documentaries…
(3) I’ll make some recommendations rather than try to figure out which ones are “must-reads”: Amartya Sen (his book The Argumentative Indian I would highly recommend. It explores the pluralism of the Hindu tradition), Lee Smolin (The Trouble With Physics helps put string theory in a historical context and helps us make sense of the tangled (pun intended) confusion we sometimes feel when faced with modern physics), Richard Dawkins/Daniel Dennett/Christopher Hitchens (no need to read them all, since they overlap so much, but no one should talk about religion, atheism and science in our time without having read some of the “new atheists”), James Lovelock, E. O. Wilson, Bernard Lewis, Thomas Friedman. And presumably anyone who can make it through Charles Taylor’s The Secular Age deserves to be considered an intellectual, every bit as much as does anyone who can write a book that addresses an important topic in such a voluminous and meandering style.
Elsewhere in the blogosphere, Beyond the Firmament discusses primary and secondary causes. John Wilkins discusses the threat of antimodernism, a follow up to an earlier post about religion vs. science.
The Bad Idea Blog and Creation of an Evolutionist have reviews of Expelled. Rev. BigDumbChimb has examples of those who have been expelled…for doing good science, not for opposing it. John Pieret has posts on Ken Miller’s new book, as well as attempts to do evangelism in public schools. ERV is back (HT Pharyngula).
The purple tree (apparently a redbud) can be seen in a short video clip: