What I’ve been reading

1. Larry Siedentop, Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism.  The author argues that Christianity is a fundamental moral revolution which later made liberalism possible.  Maybe so, and this book is an OK enough introduction to that idea, but I did not myself learn much new from it.  It is out now in the UK, but it is not clear when it is being published in the U.S.

2. Richard Marshall, Philosophy at 3 a.m.: Questions and Answers with 25 Top Philosophers.  They are all smart, most of the interviews are fun, and pretty early on in this book you realize they are not going to get anywhere at all.

3. Scott Phillips, University of America: A Non-Linear Blueprint for Higher Education in the 21st Century.  A new and interesting short eBook on reforming higher education:

The University of America is a conceptual model that dramatically reduces the barriers to entry for a college education for adult Americans. It proposes three structural changes to increase access to and significantly reduce the cost of getting a degree. They are:
• Create a ubiquitous, low-cost national testing infrastructure that is far more pervasive and accessible than what is available today;
• Divide content into fact-based vs. content-based modules with 75 percent of a standard 4-year degree being comprised of fact-based modules available for entirely independent learning and accreditation; and
• Require intensive residences for undergraduate degree completion.

4. Lila Abu-Lughod, Do Muslim Women Need Saving?  Parts of this book were interesting, but I think if I were a Muslim women I would have found it offensive, including the title.  What if someone wrote a book “Does Tyler Cowen Need Saving?” and decided “no.”  But then multiply by more than 500 million.  I can think of better questions to ask.  The author means well but the provocative title is a representation of what is in essence a re-colonialising the object of study.  Here is another, very different review of the work, indicative of how far we stand from having a good discourse on such matters.

And arrived in my pile:

5. Alen Mattich, Killing Pilgrim, Euro noir, but written by a financial journalist.


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