You’d love my friend Francisco Garcia-Julve. He’s a philosopher from Spain who married a woman from Pittsburgh and retired here. Francisco’s a polymath, with advanced degrees in psychology, linguistics, and physics (to name only a few). He just published his first book in English, Sense Nonsense. In it, Francisco poses provocative questions about God, free will, secularity, and right and wrong. He does it in the form of aphorisms, and his are as memorable as those of his philosophical predecessors, Pascal and La Rochefoucauld and Nietzsche. Of those three, I suppose he’s most like Pascal, since Francisco, too, is a Catholic and a scientist.
Anyway, I love this book. Sense-Nonsense makes readers re-consider their most basic categories for understanding the human condition, human behavior, and human destiny. For many people, “to think” is to move from unexamined assumptions to inevitable conclusions without ever asking why — without ever knowing how to ask.
Francisco asks the hard questions and proposes exhilarating approaches to new answers. Like Pascal, he packs his ideas into paradoxical aphorisms that provoke a reconsideration — and re-valuation — of even the most ordinary things.
It’s a book for a culture whose standard ideas have proven dismally wrong in practice. It’s a book whose time is now.
UPDATE: Here’s a thoughtful review of the book at Aliens in This World.