by Italo Calvino
About the book: Italo Calvino imagines a novel capable of endless mutations in this intricately crafted story about writing and readers. If on a Winter's Night a Traveler turns out to be not one novel but ten, each with a different plot, style, ambience, and author, and each interrupted at a moment of suspense. Together they form a labyrinth of literatures, known and unknown, alive and extinct, through which two readers, a male and a female, pursue both the story lines that intrigue them and one another.
by Nate Silver
About the book: "Nate Silver's The Signal and the Noise is The Soul of a New Machine for the 21st century." —Rachel Maddow, author of DriftNate Silver built an innovative system for predicting baseball performance, predicted the 2008 election within a hair’s breadth, and became a national sensation as a blogger—all by the time he was thirty. He solidified his standing as the nation's foremost political forecaster with his near perfect prediction of the 2012 election. Silver is the founder and editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight.com.Drawing on his own groundbreaking work, Silver examines the world of prediction, investigating how we can distinguish a true signal from a universe of noisy data. Most predictions fail, often at great cost to society, because most of us have a poor understanding of probability and uncertainty. Both experts and laypeople mistake more confident predictions for more accurate ones. But overconfidence is often the reason for failure. If our appreciation of uncertainty improves, our predictions can get better too. This is the “prediction paradox”: The more humility we have about our ability to make predictions, the more successful we can be in planning for the future.In keeping with his own aim to seek truth from data, Silver visits the most successful forecasters in a range of areas, from hurricanes to baseball, from the poker table to the stock market, from Capitol Hill to the NBA. He explains and evaluates how these forecasters think and what bonds they share. What lies behind their success? Are they good—or just lucky? What patterns have they unraveled? And are their forecasts really right? He explores unanticipated commonalities and exposes unexpected juxtapositions. And sometimes, it is not so much how good a prediction is in an absolute sense that matters but how good it is relative to the competition. In other cases, prediction is still a very rudimentary—and dangerous—science.Silver observes that the most accurate forecasters tend to have a superior command of probability, and they tend to be both humble and hardworking. They distinguish the predictable from the unpredictable, and they notice a thousand little details that lead them closer to the truth. Because of their appreciation of probability, they can distinguish the signal from the noise.With everything from the health of the global economy to our ability to fight terrorism dependent on the quality of our predictions, Nate Silver’s insights are an essential read.
by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
About the book: Antifragile is a standalone book in Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s landmark Incerto series, an investigation of opacity, luck, uncertainty, probability, human error, risk, and decision-making in a world we don’t understand. The other books in the series are Fooled by Randomness, The Black Swan, and The Bed of Procrustes.Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the bestselling author of The Black Swan and one of the foremost thinkers of our time, reveals how to thrive in an uncertain world. Just as human bones get stronger when subjected to stress and tension, and rumors or riots intensify when someone tries to repress them, many things in life benefit from stress, disorder, volatility, and turmoil. What Taleb has identified and calls “antifragile” is that category of things that not only gain from chaos but need it in order to survive and flourish. In The Black Swan, Taleb showed us that highly improbable and unpredictable events underlie almost everything about our world. In Antifragile, Taleb stands uncertainty on its head, making it desirable, even necessary, and proposes that things be built in an antifragile manner. The antifragile is beyond the resilient or robust. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better and better. Furthermore, the antifragile is immune to prediction errors and protected from adverse events. Why is the city-state better than the nation-state, why is debt bad for you, and why is what we call “efficient” not efficient at all? Why do government responses and social policies protect the strong and hurt the weak? Why should you write your resignation letter before even starting on the job? How did the sinking of the Titanic save lives? The book spans innovation by trial and error, life decisions, politics, urban planning, war, personal finance, economic systems, and medicine. And throughout, in addition to the street wisdom of Fat Tony of Brooklyn, the voices and recipes of ancient wisdom, from Roman, Greek, Semitic, and medieval sources, are loud and clear. Antifragile is a blueprint for living in a Black Swan world. Erudite, witty, and iconoclastic, Taleb’s message is revolutionary: The antifragile, and only the antifragile, will make it.Praise for Antifragile “Ambitious and thought-provoking . . . highly entertaining.”—The Economist “A bold book explaining how and why we should embrace uncertainty, randomness, and error . . . It may just change our lives.”—Newsweek “Revelatory . . . [Taleb] pulls the reader along with the logic of a Socrates.”—Chicago Tribune “Startling . . . richly crammed with insights, stories, fine phrases and intriguing asides . . . I will have to read it again. And again.”—Matt Ridley, The Wall Street Journal “Trenchant and persuasive . . . Taleb’s insatiable polymathic curiosity knows no bounds. . . . You finish the book feeling braver and uplifted.”—New Statesman “Antifragility isn’t just sound economic and political doctrine. It’s also the key to a good life.”—Fortune “At once thought-provoking and brilliant.”—Los Angeles TimesFrom the Hardcover edition.
by Noson S. Yanofsky
About the book: Many books explain what is known about the universe. This book investigates what cannot be known. Rather than exploring the amazing facts that science, mathematics, and reason have revealed to us, this work studies what science, mathematics, and reason tell us cannot be revealed. In The Outer Limits of Reason, Noson Yanofsky considers what cannot be predicted, described, or known, and what will never be understood. He discusses the limitations of computers, physics, logic, and our own thought processes.Yanofsky describes simple tasks that would take computers trillions of centuries to complete and other problems that computers can never solve; perfectly formed English sentences that make no sense; different levels of infinity; the bizarre world of the quantum; the relevance of relativity theory; the causes of chaos theory; math problems that cannot be solved by normal means; and statements that are true but cannot be proven. He explains the limitations of our intuitions about the world -- our ideas about space, time, and motion, and the complex relationship between the knower and the known.Moving from the concrete to the abstract, from problems of everyday language to straightforward philosophical questions to the formalities of physics and mathematics, Yanofsky demonstrates a myriad of unsolvable problems and paradoxes. Exploring the various limitations of our knowledge, he shows that many of these limitations have a similar pattern and that by investigating these patterns, we can better understand the structure and limitations of reason itself. Yanofsky even attempts to look beyond the borders of reason to see what, if anything, is out there.
by Matthew Stewart
About the book: Throughout history, well-known theories of reality, knowledge, mind, and most particularly the "professional" philosophers who rely on them for their intellectual existence, have sought to isolate universal truths and structure the history of philosophy to distinguish schools and movements that seek a comprehensive understanding of our world. But in this well-intended pursuit of truth, have we lost sight of what philosophy is? Matthew Stewart believes we have.His rowdy guided tour of the search for truth romps through traditional histories of philosophy using parables, imaginary dialogues, and illustrations to demonstrate that knowing theories, recognizing revered schools, and distinguishing the views of the great philosophers isn't what philosophy should be about. Once removed from the clutches of historicism, the compulsion for universal answers, and the perception that reason is a peculiarly Western possession, the nature of philosophy can be seen as a genuine human disposition to love and respect knowledge coupled with a desire for critical thinking.
by Bertrand Russell
About the book: Hailed as “lucid and magisterial” by The Observer, this book is universally acclaimed as the outstanding one-volume work on the subject of Western philosophy.Considered to be one of the most important philosophical works of all time, the History of Western Philosophy is a dazzlingly unique exploration of the ideologies of significant philosophers throughout the ages—from Plato and Aristotle through to Spinoza, Kant and the twentieth century. Written by a man who changed the history of philosophy himself, this is an account that has never been rivaled since its first publication over sixty years ago. Since its first publication in 1945, Lord Russell’s A History of Western Philosophy is still unparalleled in its comprehensiveness, its clarity, its erudition, its grace, and its wit. In seventy-six chapters he traces philosophy from the rise of Greek civilization to the emergence of logical analysis in the twentieth century. Among the philosophers considered are: Pythagoras, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Empedocles, Anaxagoras, the Atomists, Protagoras, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, the Cynics, the Sceptics, the Epicureans, the Stoics, Plotinus, Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, Benedict, Gregory the Great, John the Scot, Aquinas, Duns Scotus, William of Occam, Machiavelli, Erasmus, More, Bacon, Hobbes, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, the Utilitarians, Marx, Bergson, James, Dewey, and lastly the philosophers with whom Lord Russell himself is most closely associated—Cantor, Frege, and Whitehead, coauthor with Russell of the monumental Principia Mathematica.
by Madsen Pirie
About the book: In the second edition of this witty and infectious book, Madsen Pirie builds upon his guide to using - and indeed abusing - logic in order to win arguments. By including new chapters on how to win arguments in writing, in the pub, with a friend, on Facebook and in 140 characters (on Twitter), Pirie provides the complete guide to triumphing in altercations ranging from the everyday to the downright serious. He identifies with devastating examples all the most common fallacies popularly used in argument. We all like to think of ourselves as clear-headed and logical - but all readers will find in this book fallacies of which they themselves are guilty. The author shows you how to simultaneously strengthen your own thinking and identify the weaknesses in other people arguments. And, more mischievously, Pirie also shows how to be deliberately illogical - and get away with it. This book will make you maddeningly smart: your family, friends and opponents will all wish that you had never read it.Publisher's warning: In the wrong hands this book is dangerous. We recommend that you arm yourself with it whilst keeping out of the hands of others. Only buy this book as a gift if you are sure that you can trust the recipient.
by Michael Bruce
About the book: Does the existence of evil call into doubt the existence of God? Show me the argument. Philosophy starts with questions, but attempts at answers are just as important, and these answers require reasoned argument. Cutting through dense philosophical prose, 100 famous and influential arguments are presented in their essence, with premises, conclusions and logical form plainly identified. Key quotations provide a sense of style and approach. Just the Arguments is an invaluable one-stop argument shop. A concise, formally structured summation of 100 of the most important arguments in Western philosophy The first book of its kind to present the most important and influential philosophical arguments in a clear premise/conclusion format, the language that philosophers use and students are expected to know Offers succinct expositions of key philosophical arguments without bogging them down in commentary Translates difficult texts to core arguments Designed to provides a quick and compact reference to everything from Aquinas’ “Five Ways” to prove the existence of God, to the metaphysical possibilities of a zombie world Visit www.justthearguments.com, the editor's site for students, teachers, researchers, and fans of philosophy