Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Pop psychology becomes pop philosophy and it's kind of ugly

Just got done reading "How Philosophy Can Save Your Life: 10 Ideas That Matter Most."

It's pop philosophy if it's philosophy rather than psychology.

That's part of my review, noting the book doesn't answer "why" and "how" questions too much.

The biggest "why" that Marietta McCarty doesn't answer? Why are these the 10 most important ideas in philosophy? Personally, "skepticism" would be at or near the list of my top 10, with Hume definitely being one of the two or three exemplar philosophers. What led her to the conclusion that these are the 10 most important ideas? How does she justify the generalization that what appear to be the 10 main ways philosophy can save HER life will apply to all?

The biggest "how" question that is unasked? How do different of McCarty's 10 principles balance with each other? "Individuality" and "belonging" came immediately to mind. Now, one could say that McCarty is inviting the reader to figure that out on his or her own, but ... if one is to make a value judgment between two principles, is there a guiding idea McCarty has for that?

And, it gets worse. It's got some great individual and small-group reflection and discussion exercises, but with such a non-critical background, the author might have them discussing peripherals.

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