11 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Have the words 'accessible' and 'lucid' been redefined? I must have missed that meeting...,
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This review is from: Indian Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
Richard Gombrich of Oxford University describes this book as 'lucid' and Damien Keown of London University describes it as 'accessible'.
Really? By page two I am reading (or should that be 'trying to navigate') a 96-word sentence, complete with parentheses, two semicolons and two uses of the phrase 'and/or'.
By page three, I am reading:
"We also know that at least part of what is not-God is both plural (all the individual souls)and everlasting. Less abstractly, this last point tells us something important about the nature of human beings, in themselves a part of reality that might be comprised in any of a number of ways. And in addition to this, we know that some kind of system of causation links present behaviour to an unknown future mode of existence."
I'm afraid that beginning a sentence with the words "Less abstractedly" does not render what follows less abstract.
Overall, a disappointing book that definitely doesn't do what it says on the tin. I gave up and my largely unread copy is now for sale on Amazon Marketplace. I don't recommend it to you.
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Initial post: 22 Sep 2008 01:17:14 BDT
Peter Reeve says:
"Have the words 'accessible' and 'lucid' been redefined? "
I'm afraid they do seem to have been redefined nowadays, as 'dumbed down', which this book is not. Perhaps some readers will find that disappointing. The book is accessible to anyone willing to give sufficient thought to subtle, and often novel, concepts.
The sentence you quote from page 3 is incomprehensible taken out of context. In context, it is referencing a hypothetical religious doctrine, outlined earlier, to help illustrate characteristic differences between religion and philosophy. All this is perfectly lucid, at least to a reader who is willing to make a little effort (without which, nothing worth learning is ever properly learned). More opaque is how you could find a book disappointing 'overall', when you left it 'largely unread'.
"...beginning a sentence with the words "Less abstractedly" does not render what follows less abstract. "
True, which is why the sentence begins with the words "Less abstractly". Perhaps you should have another attempt at reading the book, this time less abstractedly.
In reply to an earlier post on 6 Oct 2008 17:49:22 BDT
D. Bennison says:
Perhaps not. Writing accessibly and lucidly about difficult and challenging subjects is a talent few people possess - and the opposite of 'dumbed down'. Outstanding examples of the former include anything written by the philosopher A.C. Grayling; David Bodanis' book about Einstein's most famous equation; and the legal writings of Patrick Devlin and H.L.A. Hart.
'The 'Very Short Introductions' series describes itself as a 'stimulating and accessible way into a new subject'. Some of the entries in this series are very good and live up to this description: 'Indian Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction' is not and does not.
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