Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ten Books to Save the World

Every few decades, there comes a book that completely and fundamentally changes the lives of its readers forever if not the world. In this post, I will expand that to include books that do not just change the world, but save it. Now, it was incredibly difficult to make this list. While I have many, many, favorite books, very few have the potential to save the world.

10. Happier - Tal Ben-Shahar
Happier is a self-help masterpiece. Many of the questions in this blog were directly inspired by many of the ideas in this book. With scientific, psychological explanations, philosophical meditations and objective answers, in no way is this book dogmatic. Life-changing is a word to describe it.

9. The Alchemist - Paulo Cohelo
An annual read for me, Cohelo's allegorical novel put's intense emphasis on the importance of having meaning and purpose in one's life. It's premise states that the journey towards a goal is more pleasurable than the attained goal itself. A premise that I strongly agree with. However, its choppy translation may put off some readers initially.

8. The Republic - Plato
The Allegory of the Cave is reason enough for inclusion in this world-saving list. In a nutshell, The Cave is about truth and questioning the answers (which, happens to be the premise of this blog). Upon analysis, one comes to question the truth and validity of all things. Should all people question everything, verifiable truth will be a far more commonplace thing in the world.

7. The Fountainhead - Ayn Rand
The importance of the ego makes the premise of this novel. A philosophically challenging tome, The Fountainhead puts forth fascinating questions about creativity and individuality. This is one of my favorite books, and one to save the world from falling into a dark age of creative conservatism caused by caring too much about what others think.

6. Capital - Karl Marx
All of you must be wondering how in ******* hell can Karl Marx and Ayn Rand can be on the same list of books to save the world, but, still, both philosophers make intensely convincing arguments and have very valid points, I like both. Now, in no way do I support regulation over how affluent an individual can be, however, his meditations on alienated labor and safety-nets are fascinating, especially in tough, contemporary times. There is a lot to take away from this and some to leave there for economic freedom's sake. Also, I find that many, many preconceptions held by people about Marx are absolutely untrue. For starters, there is no government regulation over the economy in Communism, power over the economy is held by the people.

5. Being and Nothingness - Jean-Paul Sarte
The pioneer of existantialism, Being and Nothingness has the potential to save the world by putting an end to dogma. Concrete, objective examples are needed for true education, rather than subjective, dogmatic and confusing preachery. In addition, this book also pioneered authenticity.

4. Everything Bad is Good for You - Stephen Johnson
In The Times they are A-Changing, Bob Dylan told concerned parents to not "criticize what you can't understand". I find that most criticism of new forms of art come out of ignorance and an unwillingness to accept change. (Photography was considered a toy in the mid ninteenth-century, film took a long time to be accepted in the twentieth, and video games are still being debated on their artistic merit). This book has the potential to save the world from an unwillingness to accept new forms of art and entertainment. Yet, another piece that can combat a cultural "dark-age".

3. Utilitarianism - John Stuart Mill
Ethics... one of my favorite topics to write about. Mill, an ethical philosopher, was the creator of Utilitarianism, the ethical theory that what is moral is what causes the most happiness for the greatest number of people. A controversial book throughout its history, the ideas within hold great potential for debates. The philosophy is clear, fun and fascinating as well as life-changing, holding strong potential to save the world.

2. Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand
Another Ayn Rand novel up here, and simply one of the most powerful. Virtually everything libertarian is covered here, from economic philosophy to ethics. Now, while I tend to disagree with some of its ideas, I find that those I do agree with have very strong potential to save the world from mediocrity caused by altruism. It's a great read.

1. The Blogosphere - You
A great diversity of topics can be found in the blogosphere. Social commentary by independent writers is in great abundance within the wires and servers of the web. Best of all, it is open for anyone to write in, letting anyone in into the thought-sharing. Constantly growing, the book grows with new chapters and illustrations. Some chapters are life-changing, some are just crappy and some are plain ignorant. But with no doubt, there exists chapters in The Blogosphere that hold the potential to save the world.

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