Blogs > Liberty and Power > The Blogging Resumes

Oct 4, 2006 11:57 am

The Blogging Resumes

Ok, now that my self-imposed moratorium in blogging has been lifted, I can discharge my obligation to respond to having been tagged by Division of Labour’s Frank Stephenson in the “one-book” meme. Below the fold.

1. One Book That Changed My Life: Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. That’s what caused me to become a professional philosopher. If that’s not life-changing, I don’t know what is.

2. One Book I've Read More Than Once: well, given my profession, there are many, but I’ll disqualify any text I routinely teach from or consult while writing. So let’s go with Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen. Wait, I’ve taught and written about that. But not routinely.

3. One Book I Would Want on a Desert Island: The Barnes edition of The Complete Works of Aristotle.

4. One Book that Made Me Laugh: Recently? Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.

5. One Book that Made Me Cry: Although I’ve been know to tear up at certain movies, I can’t recall a book literally making me cry. But I was almost that sad upon reading Thucydides’ The Peloponnesian War. After the uplifting triumph that was the Persian War, the monstrously destructive stupidity on display a generation later is seriously depressing. Of course, I am also reduced to a near-cry state when I read any of the classics of libertarian thought, but the sadness is not so much due to the book as to the fact that it’s largely ignored.

6. One Book that I Wish Had Been Written: What a strange question. I literally don’t know how to answer that: it requires me to have an opinion about something that doesn’t exist. Ok, I’m “fighting the hypo” as the lawprofs say, so how about “The Collected Dialogues of Aristotle.”

7. One Book I Wish Had Not Been Written: Being a freedom-of-expression guy, I tend to eschew the idea that eliminating bad books is a way to eliminate bad ideas. And indeed, sometimes, it takes a spectacularly bad book to prompt a really excellent response (e.g., Filmer giving Locke something to write about). OTOH, ideas do have consequences, as the saying goes, and maybe there are some books that the world would be better off if they hadn’t been written. But I also have a logician’s sense that counterfactuals are hard to understand – so, e.g., it won’t do to say “well, if Hegel hadn’t written about dialectical idealism in his Phenomenology of Spirit, then we wouldn’t later have seen organic-state fascism or Marxist dialectical materialism” – that sentence has no truth-value. Ok, I’m “fighting the hypo” again, so I’ll just shut up and go with the Hegel.

8. One Book I'm Currently Reading: The System of the World, by Neal Stephenson (no relation, afaik, to Frank). That’s book 3 of the Baroque Cycle.

9. One Book I've Been Meaning to Read: Harold Berman’s second volume of Law and Revolution. Vol. 1 was terrific, but I haven’t gotten around to vol 2 yet.

Tagging: Roderick, Chris, Steve, Amy, Jacob.

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More Comments:

Amy H. Sturgis - 10/6/2006

I thoroughly enjoyed yours. And I was glad to see you liked American Gods, too.

Aeon J. Skoble - 10/6/2006

Thanks! Eager to see your entry.

Amy H. Sturgis - 10/6/2006

My response is posted. :)

Aeon J. Skoble - 10/5/2006

RTL=Roderick T. Long.

The moratorium was pretty much labor day til last week, although I posted a brief note commemorating the 40th anniversary of Star Trek.

RP 28 is on sale now, RP 29 is in the pipeline. I'll keep you posted.

Thanks for the religious advice! :-)

Stephan Kinsella - 10/5/2006

Ah. What's RTL? And what about RP, my brother from another mother?

How long was your moratorium?

Speaking of moratoria: heed the words of the Ayatollah (,7340,L-3311189,00.html) on what you must avoid while fasting, my son.

Aeon J. Skoble - 10/5/2006

Well, it was hardly your _fault_, although you were certainly in the causal chain. The fault is entirely my own. But to answer NSK, it was a matter of my being very far behind on several writing projects, one of which was for RTL - I could hardly justify spending time on L&P when I owed an essay to another L&Per! But now I have whittled it down to one outstanding commitment, so I am letting myself back into the blogosphere.

Roderick T. Long - 10/4/2006

Aeon's moratorium was partly my fault. But K-dog, nobody can explain you.

Stephan Kinsella - 10/4/2006

Aeon, why for you done that moratorium, eh? Could you splain me?

I'm reading now Hillaire Belloc's How The Reformation Hizzappened. Fascinating. Starting to think the one book that should not have been written was (okay, not a book) but Luther's Theses.

Aeon J. Skoble - 10/4/2006

Dang, I missed it. Ok, then I'll tag Protagoras.

Roderick T. Long - 10/4/2006

Hey man, I've played that tune already.