Glenn A Knight

Glenn A Knight
In my study

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Reading List: January 2013

These are the books I was reading during January 2013. Some of them had been started in an earlier month, and some were not completed until after the end of January. A few were started and completed during the month. They are also listed in the Current Reading sidebar on this blog.

For 2013 I am once again following a reading program which will complete the Bible in the course of the year.

The NIV Study Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1995. xxviii + 2,172 pages. ISBN 978-0-310-92588-6. $19.99. Begun January 3, 2013.
Genesis. Begun January 3 and completed January 17, 2013.
Exodus. Begun January 17 and completed January 31, 2013.
Leviticus. Begun January 31, 2013 and finished February 9, 2013.

Anderson, Poul. David Falkayn: Star Trader. Compiled by Hank Davis. Riverdale, NY: Baen Books, 2008. xi + 492 pages. ISBN 978-1-4165-5520-9. $22.00. Begun December 22, 2012 and finished January 9, 2013.

Ansani, Antonella. Complete Italian: The Basics. Edited by Suzanne McQuade. New York: Living Language, 2008. xxviii + 308 pages. ISBN 978-1-4000-2415-5. $10.95. Begun November 30, 2012 and finished March 24, 2013.

Chernow, Ron. Washington: A Life. New York: The Penguin Press, 2010. xxi + 904 pages. Acknowledgments. Notes. Bibliography. Index. ISBN 978-1-59420-266-7. $40.00. Begun January 13 and finished April 13, 2013.

Crais, Robert. The Monkey's Raincoat. New York: Bantam Books, 1987. 201 pages. ISBN 978-0-553-27585-2. $7.99. Begun December 28, 2012 and finished January 7, 2013.

Harvey, Greg. Excel 2010 for Dummies. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Publishing Company, 2010. xviii + 390 pages. Index. ISBN 978-9-470-48953-6. $24.99. Begun December 18, 2012 and finished January 21, 2013.

LeCarre, John. A Murder of Quality. New York: Bantam Books, 1991 [1962]. 151 pages. ISBN 0-553-26443-5. $4.95. Begun January 13 and finished January 16, 2013.

__________. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. New York: Ballantine Books, 1963. 248 pages. ISBN 0-345-37737-0. $6.99. Begun January 20 and finished January 31, 2013.

Mantel, Hilary. Bring Up the Bodies. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2012. xix + 411 pages. Author's Note. ISBN 978-0-8050-9003-1. $28.00. Begun December 5, 2012 and finished January 1, 2013.

Martin, George R. R. A Game of Thrones. New York: Bantam Books, 2011 [1996]. 835 pages Appendix. ISBN 978-0-553-59371-6. $8.99. Begun January 13 and finished February 9, 2013.

Proust, Marcel. A l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs. Paris: Gallimard, 1988 [1919]. xxvii + 568 pages. Notes.

Sayers, Dorothy. Clouds of Witness. New York: Harper Paperbacks, 1927. 279 pages. ISBN 0-06-104353-2. $4.99. Begun January 20 and finished January 23, 2013.

____________. Whose Body? New York: Harper Paperbacks, 1923. 212 pages. ISBN 0-06-1043575. Begun January 19 and finished January 20, 2013.

Sjowall, Maj, and Per Wahloo. The Abominable Man, with an Introduction by Jens Lapidus. New York: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, 2009 [1972]. x + 215 pages. ISBN 978-0-307-39090-5. $14.00. Begun January 24 and finished January 26, 2013.

____________. The Locked Room, with an Introduction by Michael Connelly. New York: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, 2007 [1973]. xii + 311 pages. ISBN 978-0-307-39049-3. $14.00. Begun January 31 and finished February 4, 2013.

Smith, Jean Edward. Eisenhower In War and Peace. New York: Random House, 2012. xx + 950 pages. Acknowledgments. Notes. Bibliography. Illustration Credits. Index. ISBN 978-1-4000-6693-3. $40.00. Begun December 12, 2012 and finished January 14, 2013.

Winchester, Simon, editor. The Best American Travel Writing 2009. Jason Wilson, series editor. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009. xxvii + 351 pages. ISBN 978-0-618-85866-8. $14.00. Begun January 25 and finished February 18, 2013.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Note on the "Harm Principle"

Harold E. French, Jr., has written a book called Anarchist Solidarity.

According to Harold French's statements on Facebook, and elsewhere, one of the most important concepts in this book is what Mr. French calls "the harm principle." Oddly, for such a critical concept, the "harm principle" is mentioned only three times in the index to Anarchist Solidarity (page 277). There are references to pages 203 and 204, to page 245, and this item: "explained, 22." Therefore, one would expect to find, on page 22, an explanation of the harm principle.

When one looks at page 22 or Mr. French's book, one finds that the index is incorrect. There is a section entitled The Harm Principle, but it begins on page 21 and continues on page 22. This section reads, in its entirety:

The Harm Principle

                Individuals grow, develop, and mature in a variety of ways. We do this because of our genetic make up[sic]. All healthy human babies develop the capacity for language at approximately the same time. Children are able to separate reality from fantasy at approximately the same age. They develop the capacity for moral reasoning at approximately the same age. The exact onset of puberty, the exact end of physical growth, and the exact psychological growth and development curve of all humans is approximately the same. * All of this is grounded in genetics, and the study of human growth and development is a science. In order to flourish[,] a plant requires a certain type of soil, the right amount of water, light, humidity, temperature, et cetera; in the same way, all human beings need certain things to live well. The theoretical point I am trying to make is that, like the plant, what constitutes full psychological and biological development of a human individual is genetically determined. You need to ask yourself whether you agree, or at least ask yourself if you see what I am pointing to. Basically, I am saying the process of growing from an infant into a physically and emotionally mature adult requires certain things. Those things are called goods.** Anything that interferes with this natural process of growth into an emotionally and physically mature adult is said to cause harm.

                Please bear in mind that there is a distinction between stress and harm. Exercise stresses the muscles, but this is what makes them grow strong. A plant's roots grow deeper because of water stress. The absence of harm does not mean the absence of stress; however, too much stress is harmful.

That is all Harold French says about the "harm principle" at this point in his book, Anarchist Solidarity. I think it is obvious that, far from explaining this principle Mr. French does not even state a principle regarding harm. Rather, he has merely strung together some statements about what might be considered harmful in relation to normal human development.

*Why, then, does Mr. French state that individuals grow in a variety of ways? All of his examples point to all individuals developing in very much the same way.

**If natural growth is genetically determined, in the strict sense, then no goods are required. In fact, maturation and development occur as a result of a complex interaction between genetics and the environment, and genetics alone are not determinative.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Principle Principle

One of my correspondents likes to refer to what he calls the "harm principle." I think it offends him that some of us find this so-called principle incoherent and unintelligible. What is a principle? Are there criteria something ought to meet so that it can be called a principle and not a slogan?

I always like to start with the dictionary. What is a principle? According to The American Heritage Dictionary, Third Edition (Office Edition) (1994), a principle is:

n. 1. A basic truth, law, or assumption. 2.a.A rule or standard, esp. of good behavior. b. Moral or ethical standards or judgments. 3. A fixed or predetermined policy. 4. A rule or law concerning the functioning of natural phenomena or mechanical processes. 5. A basic source. Page 658.

Webster's College Dictionary (2003) gives us this:

n 1 a: a fundamental law or doctrine b: a rule or code of conduct c: devotion to right principles d: the laws or facts of nature underlying the working of an artificial device (trying to grasp the principles of radar) 2 a: a primary source : ORIGIN b: an underlying faculty or endowment (such principles of human nature as greed and curiosity) 3: a constituent that exhibits or imparts a characteristic quality (quinine is the active principle of cinchona bark)

The New Roget's Thesaurus in Dictionary Form, Revised Edition (1976), at page 324, has the following entry:

principle, n. regulation, law prescript (RULE)

All of which goes to this point: A principle is similar to what Kant called a maxim, a rule of behavior, a guide to practice. We are, thus, in the realm of practical reason, and we would expect to find guidance. The form of a statement of such a principle should be along the lines of "One should always act in such a way as to ...," or "One should never act so as to ...," and so on.

An example of a principle might be: "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you."

A principle, looked at another way, is a statement which could serve as the major premise of a practical syllogism.