What I Am Currently Reading

Many people who know me know that I love to read. For the most part, I am not too fond of fiction, but I do dabble here and there. However, if you see me reading a book there is a good chance that it will be one dealing with the social sciences. Sure, I dabble in straight philosophy here and there, as well as a little bit of the physical sciences (esp. dietetics and biology), but the topics that most turn me on are economics, political philosophy, anthropology, psychology, linguistics, and history. Essentially, if it is explaining or analyzing the actions, thoughts, and history of mankind, then I am all over it.

This week I am reading two books. Most people think that it is odd to read two books at once, but it actually helps me to focus on the material better if I do it this way. You see, when one reads these subjects one will often become bored and not necessarily absorb the material fully, instead skimming over the material. Whenever I catch myself doing this, I immediately stop what I am reading and switch over to the other book. The result is like a fresh start with new material.

So, what am I reading this week?

1) ‘Race, Language, and Culture’ by Franz Boas
2) ‘The Prince’ by Niccolo Machiavelli

I’ve read other works by Boas in the past, and I do think that he is often a good starting point for those interested in anthropology. After all, he is considered to be the father of the discipline. This book is a collection of sixty-two papers spanning about fifty years and dealing with quite an array of subjects from race, art, population, etc; all the way to things like language to social organization, and so on. While it is quite a dated work– all the papers having been written during the latter part of the 19th century and early-half of the last century– I think that it is still an important read.

Thus far I have read the first two papers, one on race and the other on the mixing of races in North America specifically. I agree with the findings for the most part, that it is impossible to objectively measure intelligence between groups due to environmental factors and the subjectivity of the criteria, and that comparing of intelligence cannot be made between the races. However, it is the second paper that really made it click for me. There may have been at one time a distinct difference between the races regarding such things as intelligence, however, the mixing of the races have for the most part erased this distinction. There is no doubt that there are genetic traits that are passed on, and that some of these traits include things such as intelligence, but that for the most part the mixing of races have tended toward an equalization of such traits such that it would be nearly impossible to distinguish them purely upon racial grounds. Of course, there are obvious traits such as the flatter nose and curly hair of black people, but even still, one could find that such a person’s genetic background is mostly non-African, but that dominant traits stuck.

Of course, egalitarians will want to jump all over this as some sort of proof that we are all equal, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. There is so much variation amongst individuals that it nullifies such erroneous thoughts.

As for the second book, ‘The Prince’, well I haven’t dug into it quite yet. I did read this book probably about 14 years ago, but I certainly don’t remember much about it. It is essentially a political treatise explaining how a prince is to maintain his power from an obviously statist viewpoint. I’ll write more about it once I actually read it.

I will say this, it is probably one of the more pretty books that I’ve ever bought, it is purple and covered with a very silky cover. In fact, I would say that the publisher might have had another Prince in mind when they designed the book.

Unfortunately, it didn’t come through on the photo, but right under the word “Prince” it reads “on the art of power”, which makes it pretty clear what this book is about. And, if you didn’t already notice, this is the new illustrated version. Yippie! You know me, I cannot read a book without pictures.

Explore posts in the same categories: Education, Library

One Comment on “What I Am Currently Reading”

  1. sharon Says:

    interesting joe

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