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Show Me the Way!

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

Browse through the “religion” section of a big box bookstore, and you’ll find that the majority of titles are about Christianity and Jesus. There may be a few about Buddhism, but I’m willing to bet there’ll be practically nothing about Hinduism, Jainism, cults, Paganism and those “other” belief systems.

The library can be superior to bookstores because we have a mandate to stock what the public wants to read about, not to stock what sells.

Browse our “religion” section, and you’ll find books about every belief system under the sun. Eastern and Western, old and new, popular and fringe movements – they’re all here! We’ve got sacred books like the Bible, Koran, and Upanishads, and we’ve got a wide range of scholarly commentary about each one. We’ve got lots about atheism, too – published long before the days of “Dawkins-Dennett-Harris-Hitchens” mania. Some of our textbooks are the same ones used in introductory university classes.

If you’re looking for “the way”, then walk right past that bookstore, and come on in to your local library branch!

Gristle, edited by Moby and Minyun Park

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

The meat that you (may or may not) consume is part of a complicated nexus involving human health, the environment, animals, communities, workers, children and more.

In only 126 short pages, a variety of Gristle contributors highlight a huge range of issues and supplement their comments with fascinating (and unsettling!) charts and graphs.

Read this book whether you’re a vegetarian or not. Read this book if you care about sustainable food policy, or if you simply love to eat.

Also, be sure to browse our catalogue. We’ve got tons of literature about meat, cooking, vegetarianism, and health.

Je t'aime, Jean Paul Sartre!

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

One of my all-time favourite lines on the TV series The Sopranos is delivered when Tony, worried about the mental health of his son, AJ, seeks the council of psychiatrist, Dr. Melfi. After Tony tells Dr. Melfi about AJ’s recent remarks and behaviours, Dr. Melfi concludes that AJ likely “has discovered existentialism”, at which Tony barks: “F***ing internet!”

Existentialism is certainly not a product of the internet, nor is it something that parents need to exorcise from the minds of their children. It’s a comprehensive philosophy; a worldview. It’s anchored in the last few centuries of the Western philosophical tradition, but it’s most well-known representative is the late writer and philosopher, Jean Paul Sartre.

Though it undeniably has roots in philosophers that predate Sartre, it was this French thinker who brought existentialism to the consciousness of the masses, when he wrote both fiction and non-fiction books during the time of the Second World War, and afterwards.

So, what is existentialism? Well, to be sure, it’s notoriously difficult to define. Here’s my own version, in brief: existentialism is the situation / worldview wherein we realize that human beings are thrown into a world that is not only absurd, but devoid of any meaning. Having realized this bizarre truth, it is up to us – all humans – to craft our own meanings, identities and moralities.

No pressure, but you are entirely responsible for the life you create.

You decide: bleak or empowering?

The Calgary Public Library has enough of Sartre’s musings to send you into an existential frenzy! Get reading!

Have a Nietzsche Day!

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

Frederic Nietzsche is one of the most famous and important 19th century philosophers. He is concerned with objectivity and truth, morality and Christianity, freedom and power, and much more. Are you ready to cast off the “slave morality” that binds you? Can you conceive of a world wherein tragedy is an affirmative power?

Browse the philosophy section of your local library branch, and have a Nietzsche day!

Philosophy 101

by Katherine - 1 Comment(s)

Throughout my years as an undergraduate, I heard “What are you going to do with that?!” more times than I can remember. Apparently, it is easy to imagine what an engineering or kinesiology student might do after graduation, but challenging to think of a single use for a philosophy degree.

Despite the well-worn cliché, philosophy is not about trees falling in forests, and no one being around to hear them. Philosophy is inquiry into the nature of our world, our actions, and our selves. Philosophy seeks to answer questions like:

  • Which actions are good, and why are they good?
  • Who am I?
  • Upon which foundational principles should families, (and communities, cities and countries) be built?
  • Why bother getting out of bed?

However, the aim of philosophy is not merely to answer these questions, but to refine the way in which we go about answering them. Philosophy is a practice that allows us to rid our minds of prejudice, and to accept ideas that are paradoxical. Because it encompasses so many fields (logic, language, ethics, history, etc.), philosophy is a wonderful foundation for further studies, and lifelong inquisitiveness.

Why not challenge yourself by reading more? Here are a few recommendations to get you started:

Truth: A Guide, by Simon Blackburn

Think: A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy, by Simon Blackburn

Mind: A Brief Introduction, by John R. Searle

Tell Me About Your Mother...

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

Sigmund Freud is one of the most important thinkers of the 20th century. His ideas are curious, controversial and contested, even as they gradually become outmoded. One cannot graduate from a Humanities or Social Science program without studying at least a few of his ideas, and those ideas have had such enormous influence on Western thought that everyone ought to read at least some of his work. A basic understanding of Freud increases one’s cultural literacy - and as a bonus, you’ll be able to better appreciate reruns of Frasier.

Freud is about so much more than sex and cigars! He gave us new and compelling ways to think about the structure of our minds. His theories encompass speech, jokes, dreams, phobias, gender, families, religion and more.

Learn more about this giant of psychology by checking out these titles:

Freud: A Guide for the Perplexed, by Celine Surprenant

Freud, by Ruth Snowden

Freud, Women, and Morality: The Psychology of Good and Evil, by Eli Sagan

Civilization and its Discontents, by Sigmund Freud

The Interpretation of Dreams, by Sigmund Freud

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