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The Doubter's Companion: A Dictionary of Aggressive Common Sense Paperback – 15 Jan 2002
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About the Author
John Ralston Saul is the International President of PEN International, an essayist, novelist, and long-time champion of freedom of expression. His works have been translated into twenty-three languages in thirty countries, are widely taught in universities, and central to the debate over contemporary society in many countries. They include the philosophical trilogy: Voltaire's Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West, The Doubter's Companion, The Unconscious Civilization, and its conclusion, On Equilibrium. In The Collapse of Globalism, he predicted today's economic crisis. In the autumn of 2012, he published his first novel in fifteen years, Dark Diversions: A Traveller’s Tale, a picaresque novel about the life of modern nouveaux riches.
His awards include South Korea’s Manhae Grand Prize for Literature, the Pablo Neruda Medal, Canada’s Governor General’s Literary Award for Nonfiction, the inaugural Gutenberg Galaxy Award for Literature, and Italy's Premio Letterario Internazionale. He is a Companion in the Order of Canada and a Chevalier in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France. He is the recipient of seventeen honorary degrees.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
I feel very ashamed about having come to know about this author so late and found this book in particular only now: as far as I understand it was released in 1994!
So I explain you the reason why for this late enthusiasm for this book. I had the occasion to listen to a public speech about globalism of Mr. Raulston Saul last March at the Shanghai International Literary Festival. Raulston Saul was brilliant and entertaining, and seemed to have developed a lot of ideas I was thinking about myself, rather in loneliness, in the last years. However, having never heard of him and not read one of his many works I felt uncomfortable and didn't feel like meeting him and shaking hands after the speech. After reading this book I will regret that forever...
Back home I searched Amazon and bought his books in bulk. I haven't yet read all of them, of course, but I feel like an urgent need to recommend this book to everybody.
In the form of a dictionary, this book is a masterpiece of communication and a pleasure to read.
By an extraordinary sense of humour and an entertaining prose Mr. Saul shows us how many ideas are circulated in modern society in the form of truths and passively accepted, unveiling for us the subtle play of the technocrat elites behind them, thus exercising power and control, with the result to devoid our modern democracies of real participation and responsibility from the part of the citizens.
I have an economic background and I attended university in Italy during the fabulous Eighties, a time we were prepared only for growth and success. The Nineties proved quite different and I have always thought we were facing times with a set of tools (truths!) which simply no longer fit. We lived the Nineties thinking by ourselves `Maybe this is just lasting some years and then we are back to the Eighties'. But this has never happened.
What really strikes me is the early perception and warning - and the depth of it - of many issues of contemporary life by Raulston Saul. I have been thinking in my loneliness a lot of things along Raulston Saul's lines but I always felt I missed the historical knowledge necessary to put many issues in the right perspective and demonstrate what my critical sense was able to outspeak in an almost wild way.
Now, I don't say I am today in the condition to check and verify all the facts quoted in the book - I still feel too ignorant and still need to investigate a lot of things - taken from the huge, multifaceted and wonderful culture of Saul - summarized and organized in the form of evidences of the aggressive common sense definitions given in the book. But I know it doesn't mind. This would be a lazy way to take Saul's clever book and right a manifestation of lack of doubt which is exactly what the author dislikes, that in fact the most important and revolutionary message of the book is "Citizen, set free your powerful ability to doubt as a mean to check other people assumptions, to get a better understanding of things, to participate in the decisions that shape our world and the life of the people who live in it".
Being overloaded of communication we have lost the habit to check what we are said also due to a lack of time. We leave in a time where brands guide us in our choices and help us to feel ensured about them to be right. We finish to make the same with ideas that circulate under brand names themselves. We tend to quote brands and to become lazy thinkers and we take for right the most advertised ideas. We become lazy also because so many important issues in contemporary life are put in such a complicated and technical way we often just give up to verify the truth, and just verify the brand that truth is labelled with.
Saul is such a great communicator. Using a Western philosophic approach in developing its definitions, putting them in an historical context in a very free and charming way, he makes us aware of so many common sayings, representing very clear interests of elites made blurred by difficult definitions and obscure technicalities, sold us as inevitable truth that time proved to be fashions.
So, even with a terrible delay, I tell I have enjoyed in particular the following entries: DOUBT, CIVILIZATION, the HOLY TRINITY - Late Twentieth Century (COMPETITION, EFFICIENCY and MARKET PLACE), Harvard School of Business and Chicago School of Economics, BUSINESS CONFERENCE, BALLROOM, DAVOS and ASPEN, HUMANISM, HAPPINESS, ECONOMETRICS, DUAL USE, ARMAMENTS, just to mention a few because many others are masterpieces as well.
Enjoy the book and the practice of the art of doubting.
Happy with what I paid for.
Will buy from vendor again.