King of the Castle

I picked up King of the Castle by Gai Eaton (1990) largely by accident. I saw someone reading the book on a flight; both the author and the book brief sounded unique, so I ordered a copy. A few quotes:

"Since unbelief lies at the root of almost all that is said or thought or done in our time, it follows that the believer's critique of the modern world cannot be less than radical." (p. 18)

"Before our eyes in the course of decades, not centuries, a new kind of world is coming into being, a world populated almost exclusively by dependants; but dependent upon whom and with what safeguards? Whether those who control the machinery of the State, the leaders in one country or another, have seized power or been elected by a mass-electorate which votes only on immediate, bread-and-butter issues, and whether they are motivated by self-interest or good intentions, one thing is sure: they are themselves controlled by forces of change which they do not understand and, in obeying these forces, they are restrained neither by immutable principles nor by the weight of custom and tradition. The brakes have been taken off; and there is nothing to suggest that these people know where they are going." (p. 60-61)

"The arrogance of the West in relation to other cultures is decently cloaked in our time, for this is an age of polite falsities; but it has not been outgrown. The fact that non-Europeans are expected to adopt Western patterns of government and 'post-Christian' morality (as enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations) is evidence of this." (p. 165)

"What the Muslims call the Holy War is in fact the opposition of the unified and God-centred man to the forces of dissipation and chaos both within and outside himself. Such warfare is likely, in our times, to provide a history of defeats and failures - at least so far as our environment taken as a whole is concerned - but this is precisely why we are told that less is expected of us than was expected of the men of earlier periods. Defeat does not matter, because it is by fighting this war that we become what we are, and the achievement of integrity is not dependent upon the quantitative and temporal outcome of that struggle. Our concern is only with doing what we are capable of doing. The rest is out of our hands." (p. 198) 

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Thomas Pogge and his critics

The edited collection, Thomas Pogge and His Critics (2010), edited by Alison Jaggar, is an excellent collection of chapters by an exceptional line up of philosophers focused on justice. The critics present a series of challenges, critiques and clarifications for Pogge's work, such as on positive duties, the inclusion of rights protection, the causes of global poverty and calls for change, amongst others. The final chapter is a (lengthy) response by Thomas Pogge himself to the chapters. Recommended for those interested in the philosophy and ethics related to global justice. A few notes:

Alison Jaggar in the Introduction: "Pogge regards the global order as unjust on several levels. Most obviously, many trade treaties, tariffs, antidumping laws, agricultural subsidies, and intellectual property rights unfairly provide special advantages to wealthy and powerful countries which are already reaping unjust benefits from their violent role in a world history characterized by conquest, colonization, exploitation, and genocide." (p. 2-3)

Alison Jaggar in the Introduction: "Pogge argues that the citizens and governments of wealthy powerful countries have violated the uncontroversial and morally fundamental requirement not to cause severe harm to innocent people for minor gains. It is this culpability that constitutes the basic and incontrovertible ground of our responsibility to address global poverty." (p. 4) 

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Classifications of Knowledge

Looking to explore different epistemic and ontological vantage points? One option is Osman Bakar's "Classification of Knowledge in Islam - A Study in Islamic Philosophies of Science" published by the Islamic Texts Society in 1998 (first published by the Institute for Policy Research in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 1992). The book examines classifications (different types; of knowledge, of knowledge seekers, of methodologies) based on the works of three classical scholars in the Islamic tradition.

In the Forward, by Seyyed Nasr, the hierarchical classification of knowledge is focal to Islamic ontology, asking: "How can an Islamic education system accept a situation in which there is no hierarchy between the knowledge of the angels and of molluscs or between the method of knowledge based upon reason wed to the external senses and knowledge which derives from the certitude (yaqin) derived from heart-knowledge?" (p. xiv) 

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Philosophy and African Development

Earlier I posted about a CODESRIA book on methodology, in the same year (2011) CODESRIA also published the book "Philosophy and African Development: Theory and Practice", edited by Lansana Keita. As with the other volume, there are amazing contributors and contributions. The text was largely published earlier, as a 2004 journal issue, however most remains relevant. The chapter topics range quite widely: religion, human rights, Fanon, culture, coloniality, decolonization, education, globalization. This is a book that should be widely shared, and adopted within relevant areas of study particularly within African universities. The book is available online here

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