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caddy compson has commented on (8) products.

Revolutionary Deists: Early America's Rational Infidels by Kerry Walters
Revolutionary Deists: Early America's Rational Infidels

caddy compson, August 12, 2013

Revolutionary Deists is an accessible, well-researched book on 18th c. deism in America, covering both well-known deists like Thomas Paine, whose Common Sense papers inspired the men and women who were still on the fence about the need for a revolution against the British monarch, as well as the lesser known deists like Elihu Palmer, the greatest orator of the time and fearless crusader for rational belief. Walters opens the book with a summary of the history of deism titled "Age of Licentious Liberty," referring to the bad reputation that deists had had in the general mind of believers as being immoral infidels. Those with a passing familiarity with American deists will learn about six influential men who at times savagely criticized religious dogma and Bible inerrancy. There is also a short discussion of British deism. Working in a minority opinion during a time of orthodox Calvinism and its inspired supernaturalism, deists had to keep a low profile amidst accusations of atheism, which none of the deists were. All believed in God; it wasn't the Christian god. Another theme that runs through the book is New Learning, so named for its enthusiastic endorsement of three 17th c. European thinkers, Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton, and John Locke, scientists and philosophers who were influential in creating in the 18th c. what came to be known as The Age of Reason. Walters also discusses the reform movement that was inherent in the deists' philosopher, like toleration, education, and freedom for all religions in a secular state with no one favored religion. In the end, the book is a good introduction to deism and to its proponents, all of whom were leaders in the founding of the United States.
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Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson by Jennifer Mich Hecht
Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson

caddy compson, July 26, 2013

There is no other history book like "Doubt." It is rare to find an extensive history that is written in a lively style like this one. While there are histories about non-belief, there aren't any on the broader category of doubt, which covers everything from atheism to a mere questioning of a point or two of the religious establishment of the time, usually resulting in punishment of varying degrees. The book chronicles both by eras and by religions, including those of Asia, such as Buddhism, Hinduism, and lesser known faiths. What makes this narrative stand out from the others is that she discusses the well known skeptics, like Hume, Spinoza, Hobbes, etc. but also many doubters who have been long forgotten. She does a fantastic job of showing later thinkers who were influenced by previous philosophers, rounding out the full history of religious doubt. Doubters include philosophers (ancient to modern), theologians, and scientists. It's not a short history but I could not put it down, cliché though that sounds. I think even those not all that interested in history would like Hecht's book. I am searching for other books by her, knowing that whatever the topic, she will make it interesting and informative. She's probably a great teacher, one I wish I had had.
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Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson by Jennifer Mich Hecht
Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson

caddy compson, July 26, 2013

There is no other history book like Doubt. It is rare to find an extensive history that is written in a lively style like this one. While there are histories about non-belief, there aren't any on the broad category of doubt, which covers everything from atheism to a mere questioning of a point or two the religious establishment of the time, resulting in punishment of varying degrees. The book chronicles both by eras and by religions, including those of Asia, such as Buddhism, Hinduism, and lesser known faiths. What makes this narrative stand out from the others is that she discusses the well known skeptics, like Hume, Spinoza, Hobbes, etc. but also many doubters who have been long forgotten. She does a fantastic job of showing later thinkers who were influenced by previous philosophers, rounding out the full history of unbelief. It's not a short history but I could not put it down, cliché though that is. I think even those not all that interested in history would like Hecht's book. I am searching for other books by her, knowing that whatever the topic, she will make it interesting and informative. She's probably a great teacher, one I wish I had had.
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The Great Agnostic: Robert Ingersoll and American Freethought by Susan Jacoby
The Great Agnostic: Robert Ingersoll and American Freethought

caddy compson, April 27, 2013

The Great Agnostic surveys the life and work of one of America's greatest orators, Robert Ingersoll. Able to make friends among a wide variety of religious believers, Ingersoll championed separation of church and state as well as the right to hold no belief at all. After serving as a colonel in the Civil War, Ingersoll gave up a career in politics in order to practice law and to support progressive causes. (As it is now, an agonistic could not then receive support from any political party). Ingersoll was known for his superb delivery and his infectious sense of humor, casting a spell over believers and nonbelievers alike. He confounded his religious critics by his devotion to his wife and family and by leading a morally upright life. He gave away a lot of his money and defended unpopular cases for free. Ingersoll was an early supporter of women's rights. Jacoby rescues this great freethinker from the ashcan of history and shows why he deserves recognition as one of America's finest patriots.
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Solitude of Self by Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Solitude of Self

caddy compson, April 27, 2013

With today's attempts to legislate women back into their original second-class place through bad bills passed by state legislatures, it is timely that Gornick's biographical essay on Elizabeth Cady Stanton reminds us how difficult it was for the first feminists to obtain the rights women now enjoy. Stanton and other committed suffragists spent hundreds of days a year riding in stage coaches on rough mountain trails as they campaigned in countless small towns across the country in order to spread the word. Many times Stanton felt alone and discouraged but didn't ever give up, even in illness. Despite her total commitment to the cause, Stanton balanced her responsibilities toward her six children at home while still managing to write speeches for Susan B. Anthony. Stanton's own delivered speeches frequently brought her into conflict with other, more traditionally minded critics who found her to be too radical. This is a short book, and although not scholarly, delivers a lasting tribute to the woman who refused to tame her sense of moral outrage aimed against those who sought to stifle women.
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