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Based on the fact that this topic has over 1.5 million views, everyone's answer should be "What have you been reading recently?"

The topic is dead! Long live the topic!   —Alorael, who will throw in The Ringmaster's Daughter, a relatively normal and therefore still quite unusual novel by Jostein Gaarder. Unlike Sophie's Wor

It was in one of the introductions for a book. Part of the problem was he had a few children and was trying to save for their future educations.   The figure I've seen is that a basic paper back

I can only remember the titles of 6 books(*) I had to read in school, of which 2 are Shakespeare plays. It's conceivable we had to read more than 6 books in 5 years, but my memory seems to have lost track of most of those 5 years. The ones I can remember (apart from Shakespeare) I all remember for fairly specific reasons, which made an impression at the time. Presumably the rest was dross that was so unmemorable I forgot about it the moment the exams were over.

 

* They are: The Chocolate War, I'm the King of the Castle, The Illustrated Man, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream and Flowers for Algernon.

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You didn't like the Great Gatsby, Slarty? What madness is this?!???! Surely there has never been a greater novel written about rich people's capacity to be assholes to other, slightly richer arrivistes!

 

But since everybody else seems to be posting their lists, I might as well post mine. I can't break it up by grade or year, though, so the list spans from middle school to college, and I'm also probably forgetting stuff.

 

Liked: Julius Caesar, The Great Gatsby, Heart of Darkness, To Kill A Mockingbird, Macbeth (PROTIP: the Verdi opera is better), Twelfth Night, the Oddesey, and a few pieces of older poetry, most notably Ozymandias and the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, though that's probably closer to a mini-epic or some odd classification.

 

Ambivalent: Black Boy, A Rasin in the Sun, most poetry, Old Man and the Sea, Lord of the Flies.

 

Disliked: Diary of Anne Frank, Huckleberry Finn, The Metamorphisis (sp?),

Of Mice And Men, Romeo and Juliet.

 

KILLBURNDESTROY: That one book Zora Neale Hurston wrote whose title I can't remember, anything Transcendentalist, Catcher in the Rye. Seriously. Those were terrible books.

 

EDIT: Although I didn't actually read it for school, I did write an essay on the Tale of the Grand Inquisitor from The Brothers Karamazoff, which bears mentioning because it's arguably the best short story ever written in the history of mankind.

 

 

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Alright, I think I've reconstructed my list:

 

7: Roll of Thunder Hear my Cry

8: Animal Farm

9: The Chrysalids

10: The Great Gatsby

11: A Tale of Two Cities

12: Lord of the Flies

 

I keep on racking my brains trying to think of more, but can't come up with any. We really must have had only enough time to deal with one book a year. For the rest of you: did you attend AP classes, or are non-Albertan curricula just more rigourous?

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Originally Posted By: Dintiradan
For the rest of you: did you attend AP classes, or are non-Albertan curricula just more rigourous?
The second, to be sure. I was an ambivalent English student at best, so there was no way I was signing up for AP English. I love reading, vocabulary and grammar, but I despise writing with a passion.
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9: Romeo and Juliet, To Kill a Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men, Night

 

10: The Great Gatsby, The Crucible, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Black Boy, A Separate Peace

 

11: Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales, Jane Eyre, Macbeth, Othello

 

12: Hamlet, The Scarlet Letter, The Handmaid’s Tale, Things Fall Apart

 

Dikiyoba.

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All of the texts I can recall reading in highschool, including a few short stories:

 

9th grade: When the Legends Die, Night, Tom Sawyer, Romeo and Juliet

 

10th grade: Catcher in the Rye, Lord of the Flies, a collection of greek myths, Antigone, The Call of the Wild, Macbeth

 

11th grade: Oedipus Rex, One Hundred Years of Solitude, The Great Gatsby, The Scarlet Letter, The House of Bernarda Alba, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Death in Venice, The Fall of the House of Usher

 

12th grade: Hamlet, Midnight's Children, Heart of Darkness, Midaq Alley, Notes of a Native Son

 

Of these, I hated When the Legends Die, Catcher in the Rye, Lord of the Flies, One Hundred Years of Solitude, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Death in Venice, Midnight's Children, and Midaq Alley. Most of the rest I found largely uninteresting but not outright dislikable.

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Originally Posted By: Slarty
Also, there is no The in the title.


I just copied what's on the list. Or are you refering to the rule that I once heard that states that any leading articles in titles are omitted when following "[author]'s"

Originally Posted By: Dikiyoba
You had to buy books for high school classes? (Or did you just like them so much you bought them afterwards?)


We have to buy some, others are given to us. Annotation is fun... not.


I may post about my previous experience with school reading later, after I go check out which books from pairs 2 and 5 I have and how long they are. I can say, though, that I generally dislike reading books when school assigns them. If, however, I go and reread them on my own, I am much more likely to enjoy them.

(and I saw Cather and the Rye mentioned - I can't say I'm a Salinger fan, his work seems like a heap of horse hockey to me.)
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Hmm. Maybe I should read more, because I've read relatively few of all these books from the past few pages. Some I think I might have read once, but so long ago, I can't remember. I'm pretty sure I once read all of Jane Austen, for instance, but my only memory is that they were indeed all the same, except that Northanger Abbey had (as you might expect) an Abbey.

 

"Serious" fiction tends to be either tedious or disturbing. I think the authors all aim for disturbing, and accept tedious as a risk. Even the least tedious are rarely entirely tedium-free. Some fail to achieve disturbing by being so tedious that you just don't care about anything that happens in the book.

 

For some years I've had too little leisure time to brook much tedium in it, which I think is a reasonable attitude, but also a reluctance to be disturbed, which is maybe a more regrettable early concession to senescence. I should probably get out more, literarily speaking.

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I don't remember much of the required high school reading other than Greek myths and a few Shakespearian plays. There was Hawthorne's The Scarlett Letter and some more forgettable works.

 

Then I did drop out of high school and didn't have to go through a senior year.

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Originally Posted By: Dantius
You didn't like the Great Gatsby, Slarty? What madness is this?!???! Surely there has never been a greater novel written about rich people's capacity to be assholes to other, slightly richer arrivistes!

I hated it. Perhaps I'd like it more if I read it today. I just didn't like the writing style.

I also seem to recall that for my final paper on the book, I decided, "screw it, I'm not writing about this." So I wrote about existentialism in America instead and threw in a random quote from the book once or twice per paragraph. I got an A+.

*shakes head sadly*
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Jane Austen made me want to strangle kittens. It's been 28 years since High School, and I don't remember many of the things I did back then. I loved Oedipus Rex, Hamlet, Antigone, and Slaughterhouse 5. Not so big a fan of Catch-22, The Crucible, The Scarlet Letter, Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, Siddhartha. I have blocked some of the others out of my mind.

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I'm surprised at the Austen hate. I've loved all the Jane Austen novels I've read (never bothered with Mandsfield Park, but enjoyed the others). Though the books are generally similar, I suppose, in their setting, I think there are definite differences in themes and style.

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Originally Posted By: Student of Trinity
"Serious" fiction tends to be either tedious or disturbing. I think the authors all aim for disturbing, and accept tedious as a risk. Even the least tedious are rarely entirely tedium-free. Some fail to achieve disturbing by being so tedious that you just don't care about anything that happens in the book


For me, even those serious works of fiction that manage to be more intriguing (or disturbing, by your view) than tedious aren't worth it. I rarely agree with the author's message and would much rather read about, and enter into, a fictional land as far removed from this one as possible. I spend so much time here that I welcome all escapes.
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Some serious works of fiction are quite good. Others are just deadly in their seriousness.

 

I'm not sure I can reconstruct my high school reading, but in no particular order it included Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Their Eyes were Watching God, Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, The Canterbury Tales (about half of them), Paradise Lost, All Quiet on the Western Front(+), the Bhagavad Gita, section of the Old Testament, Middlemarch, Women in Love, various plays by Sophocles, Aeschylus, and Aristophanes, the Iliad, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Turn of the Screw, Great Expectations, Gulliver's Travels, the Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, and more, I'm sure.

 

Austen doesn't show up. Is that unusual?

 

For Spanish classes, there were many fewer books due to the lower level of literacy and slower going. Oddly, I think that paid off in a higher quality of literature, often. Highlights for me include San Manuel Bueno, mártir, which I loved, Lorca's poetry, and Don Quijote (very, very slow reading in Spanish, even when it's updated to modern language).

 

And José de Espronceda's "Canción del pirata" still strikes me as one of the best pieces of pirate fan-fiction in history. Notable for having a similar view of pirates as the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise... in 1840.

 

—Alorael, whose high school also attempted to be timely with several fairly recent novels. They were universally terrible and he no longer remembers anything about them. He's also surprised by that fact; it's not as though there were no decent offerings.

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My middle school/high school reading list was quite extensive, but don't ask me to put it in chronological order without a time machine. Here's as much as I can remember, in no particular order:

 

full books

Click to reveal..
The Chronicles of Narnia (All. Seven. Books. In the same semester.)

To Kill a Mockingbird

The Prince and the Pauper

The Scarlet Letter

Our Town

The Hobbit

Romeo and Juliet (twice)

Macbeth

Hamlet

King Lear

Jane Eyre

Great Expectations

Pygmalion

Catcher in the Rye

Lord of the Flies

Oedipus Rex

Wuthering Heights

The Outsiders

1984

Brave New World

 

excerpts

Click to reveal..
Beowulf

The Canterbury Tales

The Lottery

The Odyssey

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Don Quixote

 

poems:

Click to reveal..
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe

about a dozen Shakespearean sonnets

 

In addition, I had to read several short stories; the only one I can remember is The Telltale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe.

 

I also read Le Petit Prince in my fourth year French class in high school.

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French III got to read Le Petit Prince. Because I took French III Honors, I had to read L'Étranger instead. I was intensely bitter about this fact, read Le Petit Prince on my own, and made a point of constantly pointing out how much less suicide-inducing Le Petit Prince was.

 

We also read Huis Clos. Now that I think about it, this must be where that essay on existentialism rather than Gatsby came from.

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For my various French classes, I read plenty of plays and essays and short stories and such, but the only real books were Candide and Les Jeux Sont Faites by Sartre, which is only kind of a novel, since IIRC the movie was first, and it really feels like a screenplay. Candide was better by around three orders of magnitude, no question, though some of Moliere's stuff was about as good, too.

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Hunh. As I sit at this desk, I can see the books from most of my assigned reading from high school. In a rough order because I don't feel like reconstructing the exact one:

 

  • Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
  • The Call of the Wild - Jack London
  • Night - Elie Wiesel
  • To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
  • Romeo and Juliet - Shakespeare
  • The Scarlet Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne (blech)
  • Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
  • The Pearl - John Steinbeck
  • A Separate Peace - John Knowles
  • Lord of the Flies - William Golding
  • A general mythology primer unimaginatively called Mythology - Edith Hamilton
  • The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Macbeth - Shakespeare
  • Hamlet - Shakespeare
  • Death of a Salesman - Arthur Miller
  • To the Lighthouse - Virginia Woolf (bleeeeech)
  • Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie (yay!)
  • The complete stories of Flannery 'O Connor
  • The Stranger - Albert Camus
  • The House of Bernarda Alba - Federico García Lorca
  • Chronicle of a Death Foretold - Gabriel García Márquez
  • Oedipus - Sophocles
  • The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert

 

I have almost certainly forgotten things, as I can't believe I somehow managed to get away without a fourth Shakespeare play my senior year.

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I still mourn the passing of Robert Heinlein. I got started with him in junior high, and read every one of his novels. Sadly I had to start thinning out my library, so I had to give them away. Fortunately, they went to a young man, about my age when I started reading them, who also has a deep thirst for the genre of serious Sci-Fi.

 

My current addiction is Piers Anthony, who has completed his 11th trilogy of Xanth. The endless procession of trilogies marches on. Clio just hasn't completed her task.

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Originally Posted By: Lilith
i tried to like candide but i couldn't get past the casual racism


Eh, I've never been a fan of generational chauvinism, so it doesn't bother me at all that somebody has a set of values that were widespread hundreds of years ago, hundreds of years ago. I focused more on the book itself than any sort of casual racism that might be within it.
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Originally Posted By: Harehunter
My current addiction is Piers Anthony, who has completed his 11th trilogy of Xanth. The endless procession of trilogies marches on. Clio just hasn't completed her task.

It was a psychic spambot too!

Dikiyoba was looking forward to the last Age of Fire book, but either the release date was pushed back or Dikiyoba was totally off on it, because it's not out for several more months. Oh well.
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Originally Posted By: Dantius
Originally Posted By: Lilith
i tried to like candide but i couldn't get past the casual racism


Eh, I've never been a fan of generational chauvinism, so it doesn't bother me at all that somebody has a set of values that were widespread hundreds of years ago, hundreds of years ago. I focused more on the book itself than any sort of casual racism that might be within it.


i didn't find either the prose or the plot especially compelling so the book was mostly of potential interest to me as a treatise on moral philosophy. and any worth it might have had in that regard is in fact kind of marred if it evinces repugnant values at every turn

in any case i read it this century, not hundreds of years ago, so when it was written is irrelevant to me. i'm judging the text, not its author
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Yeah, my dislike for Austen is most likely as result of me being shallow and easily bored. Now if she would have written Pride and the Assassin, or Sense and Explosions, maybe we would have been better friends.

 

As far as Piers Anthony goes, the psychic spambot DID seem to make a lot of sense. I had a hard time getting my wife to let my son read "The Color of Her Panties."

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Originally Posted By: Lilith
i didn't find either the prose or the plot especially compelling so the book was mostly of potential interest to me as a treatise on moral philosophy. and any worth it might have had in that regard is in fact kind of marred if it evinces repugnant values at every turn


Well, it's not really a treatise on moral philosophy so much as a vicious attack on the moral philosophy of the time, and especially Leibnizian optimism (is that even a term?). He's not really proposing an alternative view, just pointing out that the view his philosophical opponents hold is stupid and wrong, which it was. So if you're reading it for deep moral and philosophical fulfillment, of course you're going to be disappointed.

If you're reading it for the dark humor and satire, you will absolutely not be disappointed, and since that's what I went into it expecting, I quite enjoyed it.
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Originally Posted By: Dantius
If you're reading it for the dark humor and satire, you will absolutely not be disappointed, and since that's what I went into it expecting, I quite enjoyed it.


i dunno what else to tell you beyond "i went in expecting humour and still didn't find it funny at all"
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Have you read anything by Slavoj Zizek? Skimming through some of this, it reminded me of certain elements of his thinking.

Zizek's critique of capitalism is far more psychologically based, rooted in Lacanian psychoanalysis. However, both his and Monsieur Dupont's analysis of the revolutionary act of doing nothing are similar, and intriguing.
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Philosophy is a useless endeavour when practiced with outdated scientific and economic knowledge, as it usually is.

 

"What you can imagine depends on what you know. Philosophers who know only philosophy consign themselves to a janitorial role in the great enterprises of exploration that are illuminating the mysteries of our lives."

 

Daniel C. Dennett (A philosopher that isn't working with medieval premises)

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"I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance."

 

Socrates (a philosopher who definitely wasn't working with medieval premises)

 

Just to be clear, are you only talking about the areas of philosophy that deal directly with scientific and economic knowledge, or are you talking about all of philosophy?

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I dunno, I've always had a partiality for Hobbes, especially since he basically went and independently discovered and stated Newton's First Law of Motion before Newton himself was ten.

 

Of course, what's more impressive was the way he sort of just hand waves away this incredible discovery. It's like he's going "By the way, every major European philosopher before me was wrong about how objects move, but that's OK, because they were also wrong about religion, society, morality, good and evil, and human nature, which is more important" and he then goes on to explain why they were stupid and wrong about everything in exacting detail and flawless argumentation.

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This kind of 'intellectual' discussion doesn't do too well to my self esteem I'm afraid. blush

 

Sad to say that I have never really gotten into philosophy. I read Foucault when I was 18, only thing I understood(and agreed) with was his observation about punishment and prison system.

 

A friend of mine tried(repeatedly) to get me to read Nietzsche, Steppenwolf and such. Not the kind of books I would have a cuppa tea with.

 

Interestingly enough, I have a wide if not, eclectic taste in books. Daniel Defoe would have made a great documentarian in my opinion, based on his account of the Great Plague of London( A journal of the Plague Year). I must have several worn out copies of Robinson Cruosoe.

 

 

Which brings us to my collection of travel books. Most of them are of course narrated with observational humour, social commentary and such. My favorite would be An Impossible Country:Last days of Yugoslavia by Brian Hall. Anything Bill Bryson makes an interesting evening.

 

 

I used to like Paul Theroux, but his condescending humor towards anyone non-Caucasian grates on you after a while. There's a fine line between humor and attack on the said person's accent, culture or appearance. His piece in National Geographic are more neutral compared to his books.

That, and his French worship gets to me sometimes.

 

 

Apart from that, mystery novels are my not-so-recent obsession. I own a whole collection of Raymond Chandler's mystery books. The image of Detective Marlowe, cigarette in a hand,.38 on the other, appeals to me up to this day. Nude blond woman has never sound so enticing with Chandler's prose.

 

My favorite would be

-The Big Sleep

-Lady in The Lake

-The Long Goodbye

 

Other equally awesome Detective/mystery novel author.

 

Ross Macdonald, Mickey Spillane(Mike Hammer series),James Lee Burke(Dave Robicheaux), Ed Mcbain, Ken Bruen(Irish).

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Originally Posted By: Like Tom Petty Said.
The Magic Faraway Tree books by Enid Blyton.


Wow. I haven't read those books for a long long time smile.

Right now I'm re-reading the original Riftwar Trilogy/Quadrology (depending on if you have a full or split copy of the last book) at the moment, reading the Song of Ice and Fire series, and my current guilty pleasure is the Stephanie Plum novels blush.

- Archmagus Micael
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Isn't it the first book, Magician, that got split into Magician: Apprentice and Magician: Master?

 

—Alorael, who is finishing up the Sun Sword sextet. It does a great job of having a world in which powerful individuals are very powerful (like high level characters!), gods are present without being endless providers of deus ex machina or entirely dependent on prayer for power, and having tons of characters all going off and doing different things in different places and only meeting each other towards the end, if ever. It's better than it sounds!

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I believe that some things are easy to do, but really hard to do well, while others are hard to do at all, but then relatively easy to do well, if you can get as far as doing them at all. I think this is an important distinction. One of the first things you should learn, about almost any activity, is which class it falls into. Riding a motorcycle, for instance, seems to me to be in the second class. Cooking is in the first.

 

I've had limited exposure to real philosophy, but my impression is that philosophy is in the first category. Anyone can do it, but a few people can do it well enough to be really worth paying attention to. If you meet or read mediocre philosophers, you'll be right to be unimpressed by the whole endeavor, insofar as they typify it. They don't, though. The few really good philosophers are impressive for tackling problems that really do deserve to be tackled, and making considerably more progress on them than you could.

 

I'd put Hobbes in that category, though maybe not in the front row.

 

Dennett has a point, but in my opinion it's irrelevant. Few philosophers know enough science to be worth listening to at all, because they're just not thinking about the real world. But it's so hard to be a really good philosopher, that those few who can make that grade can take all the science they need to know easily in stride.

 

Science or no science, there's no point in listening to any philosopher who isn't really, really sharp. And a really sharp philosopher will be sure to have taken an afternoon or two at some point, and absorbed a very fair take on quantum mechanics, relativity, topology, algorithmic complexity, and whatever else you might want them to know.

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Originally Posted By: Student of Trinity
Science or no science, there's no point in listening to any philosopher who isn't really, really sharp. And a really sharp philosopher will be sure to have taken an afternoon or two at some point, and absorbed a very fair take on quantum mechanics, relativity, topology, algorithmic complexity, and whatever else you might want them to know.


I'm surprised that you think it's possible to absorb any of those things in an afternoon or two. Other physicists I've spoken to in the past have mostly been of the opinion that if you don't understand the mathematics behind quantum mechanics at a postgraduate level, you don't really know anything worth knowing about quantum mechanics.
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SoT has an understatement license.

 

To be fair, most philosophers who are good don't understand quantum mechanics or relativity; they're not physicists. Some do have more math background, but most don't. Then again, most good philosophers, where good means philosophers I find reasonable and interesting, stay away from discussing the physical nature of reality because they don't understand it.

 

Yes, that rules out some philosophy of mind. That's okay; I'd rather get it from the neuroscientists.

 

—Alorael, who does think that it's possible to take an afternoon or two to learn what quantum mechanics and relativity aren't. You can do better than a pop non-science understanding of QM by getting a pop science version.

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But there really isn't much math behind quantum mechanics. Vector analysis from high school, plus some simple matrix arithmetic, is all you need to understand all the stuff that's of any philosophical interest.

 

The problem I see is that the sort of physicist who wants to write a book on quantum mechanics for non-physicists is too likely to be a bad philosopher trying to do philosophy. This could confuse anybody. If folks would just stick to laying out clearly how it is that electrons seem to behave, and leave the professionals to sort out What It All Means about Ultimate Reality, I think things would be clearer.

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Originally Posted By: O tempora o mores
Isn't it the first book, Magician, that got split into Magician: Apprentice and Magician: Master?


That's right, I meant the first, not sure why I wrote last..

I would say something witty about philosophy and quantum mechanics, but I don't feel I know enough about either topic.

- Archmagus Micael
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