BOOK REVIEWS

Contents 

(Click on the title to be taken to the review, or reviewer's name for biodata, or simply scroll down the page)

The Oxford Companion to the Mind  2nd Edition, edited by Richard L. Gregory -  Reviewer Joe Sinclair

Little Owls Book of Thinking  by  Ian Gilbert - Reviewer Mark Edwards

Impact Techniques in The Classroom  by  Danie Beaulieu - Reviewer Mark Edwards

Creating a Dynamic Classroom by Michael Hymans - Reviewer Mark Edwards

Bad Thoughts: A Guide to Clear Thinking by Jamie Whyte - Reviewer John Ewing

Travels in Four Dimensions by Robin Le Poidevin - Reviewer John Ewing

The Law of Non-Contradictiion by Priest, Beall and Armour-Garb - Reviewer Sep Meyer

Handbook of Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties - Reviewer Irene Hayes

Emotional Survival by Tina Rae - Reviewer Rosie Harrison

Travels in Four Dimensions by Robin Le Poidevin - Reviewer Joe Sinclair

 


 

The Oxford Companion to the Mind edited by Richard L. Gregory.    Oxford University Press. Published October 2004.  1004 pages Hardback 40.00.   (ISBN 0-19-866224-6)

Some years ago I was tempted to renew my subscription to the Folio Book Society by their offer of reduced prices for a range of Oxford University Press reference works.

One of these was the first edition of The Oxford Companion to The Mind and I discovered very quickly that this work alone justified the expense of the annual Folio subscription.  It became a valuable and valued resource in locating material both for the books I was researching and the articles I was writing.* 

It could be regarded as a mini-encyclopaedia, alphabetically arranged by subject, or a rather large and unwieldy dictionary devoted to an extensive study of  philosophy, psychology and neuroscience and their connection to consciousness, perception, and the nervous system.  Articles ranged in length from a sentence or two to more than 20 pages  It sought to provide relatively simple (but not simplistic) definitions and explanations of its manifold subjects and, where even more detailed deliberations were desirable, it provided references to other sources and cross-references within its own pages.

In some small respects it was disappointing.  Many of the articles, written as they were by people I idolised within their fields (R.D. Laing, Noam Chomsky, A.J. Ayer, to name but three) thrilled me enormously.  Other contributors, however, struck me as being somewhat lightweight; and some subjects were either not covered adequately or, on occasion, not covered at all.

So how has this second edition, appearing 18 years later, addressed my earlier, minor disappointment?  Comparing the two editions (albeit somewhat superficially since, with a combined total of almost 2000 pages, a detailed comparison would have been well beyond the scope of this review) threw up some interesting discoveries.  Analysing them served to reveal those areas where major developments have taken place in the study of the human mind.

What is immediately clear is that the editor and compilers of this magnificent work have apparently taken on board much of the critical comment that was levelled at the first edition.  A lot of that criticism was, in any case, unjustified.  Given the time-lag between compiling a work of this size, its ultimate publication, and the production of reviews by the press, in an area such as psychology (and particularly New Age psychotherapy) where there has been considerable and rapid development, it is inevitable that description will lag behind results.

Perhaps, in a few years time, the same criticism will be levelled against the second edition.  For the moment, however, I can only browse in amazement at the volume of material that has been included.  (And be slightly mystified at the reason for excluding entries such as Paranormal Phenomena in Ancient Greece, which appeared in the first edition and is missing from the second.  But Im happy to see several pages devoted to Placebo and the Placebo Effect that were not covered earlier.)

It was also good to see the expansion of the section on Autism by the inclusion of Aspergers Syndrome, the absence of which bothered me when I turned to the first edition some months ago, prior to devoting a section of Nurturing Potential to the subject.  Other new entries include Artificial Life, Attachment Theory, Extraterrestrial Intelligence, and the Genetics of Mental Illness.

And its reassuring to see that the contributors continue to include my admired Noam Chomsky, R.D. Laing and A.J. Ayer, not to forget Bernard Skinner.

I shall continue to use this book with pleasure and benefit; my main regret being that when the time comes for the third edition, I shall probably myself have been consigned to an exclusion zone. 

 


* Putting this in context, it has to be appreciated that in those days universal access to the Internet was not available.  One had little or no choice.  Nowadays, of course, the choice is there, but it is still frequently simpler to take a volume off the bookshelf than to have to go to the computer and consult the Internet.

Joe Sinclair

 

Little Owls Book of Thinking: An Introduction to Thinking Skills by  Ian Gilbert.  Hardback.   70 pp  Crown House Publishing.  ISBN: 190442435.  4.99

Little Owls Book of Thinking is cleverly and attractively packaged in the style of a childrens Ladybird book. The author tells us that the book was conceived on a train journey to Reading (spot the clever play on words) and that the basic idea was to present information about thinking and learning in a way that no one else has. The idea is not in fact new - The Tao of Pooh, for example, and Counselling for Toads  are both based on classic childrens books albeit with different subject matter. In this case Ian Gilbert  appears to have  been inspired by Jill Tomlinsons classic The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark   - if so he has set himself quite a task in attempting to replicate the style of that wonderful little book.

Gilbert is right about the plethora of good books on thinking and learning on the market and, as he says wryly,  some of them are so good they have been written many many times. However it does not follow that an original idea is always a good one. Gilbert has identified seven thinking skills and devotes a short chapter to each of them.  So basically, Wise Owl explains that we each have a powerful learning tool (our brain), we know what to do, we need to do things in our own way (shades of Jonathan Livingston Seagull here) we should think flexibly, know our own strengths, brainstorm ideas, and be aware that our thinking abilities are deep within us waiting to unfold.

Although it is a reasonably enjoyable and quick read I found Gilberts word plays to be somewhat irritating as though he was trying too hard to be witty (Are you dead? he asked curtly. No Im just sleeping, replied Curtly.) There is nothing wrong with the basic substance of the book but I am really not sure quite who he had in mind as his audience when he was writing it. Little kids wont get it; big kids will probably just think its silly.

Mark Edwards

 

Impact Techniques in The Classroom - 88 activities to engage your students by  Danie Beaulieu PhD.  Paperback 216pp.  ISBN No: 1904424554. Crown House Publishing.  19.99

Impact Techniques in the Classroom is written by a Canadian psychologist, though I suspect psychotherapist might be a more accurate description.  The introduction to the book explains that teachers spend a lot of their time attempting to engage, motivate and focus children in addition to actually teaching them. A few simple techniques can do all these things effectively, freeing up the teacher to concentrate on teaching rather than class management.

The ideas presented are rather good. They are all based on the notion of giving shape and form to childrens inner thoughts and feelings, through using objects as metaphors for experience.  The book is in four sections, each consisting a series of activities with intriguing titles like Paper Clips X-ray and Sponge.  In Paper Clips the students are invited to attach some pieces of paper together securely, using paper clips and then use the experience to symbolise attaching concentration, attention, interest and enjoyment to each piece of work they do. Once the association is made, the teacher can use the paper clip to remind the students in future.  We consistently fail to develop and build on childrens ability to visualise and use symbol and metaphor to give shape to their inner experiences ; this book goes a long way toward redressing the balance.

If you think this sounds a little like Jungian psychology you would be right, which is why I think the worst thing about this book is the title. Rather it should be Impact ideas for the Disaffected Child  because the majority of English teachers will run a mile from implementing in the classroom the kinds of things Beaulieu is suggesting.. It would be better targeted at learning assistants or teachers working in the alternative education field as the ideas are powerful and certainly have more than a place in contemporary education. It should also have a prominent place on the shelf of each LEA Educational Psychology Service office.

Mark Edwards

 

Creating a Dynamic Classroom - A Programme to Develop Co-Operative Behaviour for 9 to 14 Year Olds by Michael Hymans.   Paperback 150 pp .  Lucky Duck Publishing.   ISBN 1-904315-31-3.  Price: 24.99 

It is a continual source of frustration that the British education system pays far too much attention to cognitive development and far too little to teaching social and emotional awareness. The reasons for this sorry state of affairs are many and varied. However, now that increasing numbers of young people are rejecting school and manifesting all sorts of problematic behaviours, such as stabbing each other and getting blind drunk at weekends, even the Government is starting to take notice. In 1965 someone from the Schools Council said that children were far more interested in their feelings and their relationships rather than in cognitive development .Forty years later we have an over-regulated curriculum that still does its best to keep emotional literacy out of the classroom and the results are plain for all to see, especially for street sweepers who have the misfortune to be doing the early Monday morning shift.

So hail to Lucky Duck, once again, for another addition to the growing canon of resources for educators who still fly the flag for the whole child by which I mean one whose sense of identity extends beyond being a Level 4, or being stuck at some point on an ever-widening spectrum of disorders. I liked this one because it is easily accessible, it has excellent resources (enhanced by the inclusion of a CD disc which will print out your worksheets for you) and the activities are highly relevant. One such is active listening whereby students are taught how to listen using body language, silence, summarising and re-stating these are communication skills that we could all benefit from learning, not least those who are seated in the House of Commons debating chamber.

The book is divided into five main sections each containing a number of lessons. They begin, logically, with Orientation and finish with Endings. The lessons themselves are clearly described and are well-structured which should help keep things focused. I particularly liked the conflict resolution section which invites students to consider alternative ways of responding to events based on what I think is Adlerian psychology; the author emphasises for students the importance of self control and provides guidance on how to achieve it. This section rightly takes up a large part of the book.

Another section contains some thinking skills activities again, well presented and with clear guidance on how to kick-start the problem-solving process. The final section on Endings emphasises the importance of ending the group properly and has some creative ideas on how to do this.

I had thought the book to be American, but it was only the inclusion of the word cuss that misled me. Regular readers of my reviews will know why I mention this I do find it frustrating we in the UK cannot seem to produce books of this calibre ourselves and many British teachers seem to have an inbuilt resistance to ideas that come to us across the herring pond. All the more credit, then, to Michael Hymans.  However, as I type this, Tony Blair is talking on television about tackling problem behaviour in schools. Perhaps somebody should point him in the direction of Lucky Duck Publishing.

Mark Edwards

 

Bad Thoughts: A Guide to Clear Thinking  by Jamie Whyte.  Paperback 152pp.  ISBN No: 0-9543255-3-2. Corvo Books Ltd..  8.99

Go find 8.99 immediately, thats my advice.  This book is delicious.  Of course, having read an interview with the author a while back, I knew that when I asked for a review copy, and I was not disappointed.  This is a book to wallow in, to chortle over in the train.  Its the only philosophy book I have ever wanted to read in the middle of the night without hoping to go back to sleep ASAP.

Bad Thoughts is a sort of a toolbox: it contains a set of templates for recognising different types of fallacy, and a rack of instruments wherewith to demolish them.  Not just the hoary old Bottles have a neck, Fido has a neck, Fido is a bottle conundrums, but the more subtle fallacies that people will trot out every day the sort of thing you get on TV all the time, e.g.: Your daughter died from taking Ecstasy, Mr. Betts, what do you think of liberalising drugs?  Whyte points out that there is no reason on Earth why having a daughter die should turn Mr. Betts into an instant drug-policy expert.  Replace Mr. Betts with doctors talking about government health policy or with 9/11 survivors about the war in Iraq and the argument remains the same: being a victim does not make you an expert.

Whyte also takes a good swing at faith, and its stalking-horse, mystery: Keep to the right topics and a little mystery-mongering can give off a scent of profundity heady enough to make the mind swim. You have no reason to believe what you do, no evidence, no argument.  Of course not.  This is a matter of faith! . . . Whatever the finer feelings of those who indulge in it, from the point of view of truth and evidence, faith is exactly the same as prejudice.  It is amusing to think that most people would be flattered to be told that they had great faith, but try telling them that they are extremely prejudiced and listen to the reaction (of course, I am prejudiced against faith, but I have every reason to be . . .  and all of them are in Bad Thoughts

One more before we wind this up?  How about nature as a guide to morality: homosexuality should be illegal because its unnatural?  Sounds reasonable, doesnt it?  But (Whyte inquit) lawn bowls is an unnatural activity, likewise young boys kissing 80-year-old grannies, white socks with sandals and open-heart surgery.  Should they all be illegal as well?  And alas, when you think about it, killing people is also natural: it must be, because we are extremely proficient at it, and we build many varieties of engine for doing it on an industrial scale.  Could it be that its being natural might not be an argument for legalising it?

I could go on with this all night. : For all its brevity, the book fairly bulges with examples, and all of it is immensely enjoyable.  But I dont want to give away the plot.

A word of caution, though.  No sooner will you finish this book than the holes in your friends beliefs and statements will start glaring you in the face.  Weigh up the relative values of truth and friendship before you deploy your new armaments.

John Ewing  

 

Travels in Four Dimensions - The Enigmas of Space and Time by Robin Le Poidevin.  Published 2004 by Oxford University Press.  ISBN 0-19-875255-5.  Paperback 275 pages.  Price 9.99

I had trouble getting going with this book, and once I got going I had trouble keeping going.  This is quite possibly my own deficiency, for I frequently found my mind wandering to other things.  However, my mind does not normally wander when reading books on logic, so possibly there is something beyond my own shortcomings at work here.

To be honest, I have problems treating many of these arguments as anything much more than word-play.  The question, for example, does anything exist outside the universe?  This is largely irrelevant to everyday experience, as typified by anything from riding on a bus right down to the most abstruse equations of theoretical physics: whether Kant could or could not prove the infinity of space by pure Earth-bound (indeed, study-bound) logic really says more about Kant's pastimes than about the universe.

It is amusing, certainly, to play around with paradoxes such as Zeno's Arrow, especially if there is a good bottle on the table.  If you enjoy such stuff without the bottle, then probably Le Poidevin, who mixes a pleasant sprinkling of history in with the dry arguments, will please you.  But I would not recommend the book to anyone who has anything pressing to do, such as worming the dog.

John Ewing  

 

The Law of Non-Contradiction, Edited by Graham Priest, J.C. Beall, and Bradley Armour-Garb.  Published by Oxford University Press 2004.   Hardback ISBN 0199265178.  443 pages.  Price 45.00

This is not a book for the general reader; and you cannot believe anything I say.

And there you have it.  In logic, the law of non-contradiction considers to be false any proposition  that asserts that another proposition and its denial are true at the same time and in the same respect.

So, if I say you cannot believe anything I say, is what I have said true or false?  This, known as the liar paradox, goes right back to the fourth century B.C. and is attributed to the Greek philosopher Eubulides of Miletus.

[In fact, leaving the paradox for a moment, the book is really NOT for the general reader; it is for the philosopher or student of logic.  But having mistakenly ordered a review copy from the publishers, NPs Managing Editor decided to award me the honour of producing a short review.]

If you are interested in logic, you will find much to please you in this series of essays produced by some of the leading philosophical commentators of the 21st century.

In its original form The Law of Non-Contradiction asserted: A man says that he is lying.  Is what he says true or false?   If it is neither true nor false, then it is not true, which is what it is actually saying; hence it is true . . . and so on. Consideration of this paradox has led some writers, of which one is an editor of this book (Graham Priest), to posit that it is both true and false.

This is the dialetheist position.  Dialetheism asserts that a statement and its negation can both be true and, accordingly, there can be a true contradiction; the selfsame Graham Priest being one of the coiners of the term in the 1980s. 

Two other laws (or principles) may be mentioned.  The Law of Excluded Middle, which says a thing is either A or not-A, from which springs the Law of (Non) Contradiction, that states a thing cannot be both, and the Principle of Explosion, which refers to the fact that the acceptance of a single contradiction into one's system makes the number of overall theorems "explode".  Dialetheists solve this problem by rejecting the principle of explosion

An interesting demonstration of an apparent violation of the laws of non contradiction and excluded middle was given by Bertrand Russell who describes his barber as one who shaves a man if and only if he does not shave himself. The question is: who shaves the barber?  If he shaves himself, then by definition he does not.  But if he does not shave himself, then by definition he does. So he does and he does not. Hence a contradiction or ``paradox''.

So, if this dialectic intrigues you, and you want to discover how eminent modern philosophers argue the case for and against the Law of Non-Contradiction buy a copy of this book.   

Sep Meyer

 

Handbook of Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties by Peter Clough, Philip Garner, John T. Pardeck and Francis Yuen.  Published 2004.  Sage Publications.  Cloth ISBN 0-7619-4066-9.  464 pages.  Price 75.00

If you were only to buy one book about emotional and behavioural difficulties (EBD), this has to be the book. The handbook is made up of a series of papers written by eminent practitioners and academics, both from the UK and the US. There is something for everyone who works with children and young people. As a Head Teacher of a small school exclusively for young people permanently excluded from main stream education, I am delighted to come across this handbook.  It is not easy to scan it as each paper has something in it to capture your attention and interest.  I recognise the young people I work with on almost every page of this book. 

The handbook presents a clear and holistic overview of the issues surrounding young people with the label of EBD. The papers are grouped into four main categories.

The first six papers make up part one Context and terminologies.  Here the confusions of labels and definitions are addressed and explained.  Paper six, The forgotten E in EBD, reminds us that when children and young people present challenging EBD symptoms, the need to manage the difficult behaviour obscures the need to explore and deal with the childs confused emotions, so very often these are either not recognised or are overlooked. This is apparent in Special Educational Needs statements, where there are many examples of behavioural concerns but few references made to emotional needs.

The following seven papers make up part two Roots and Causes. In these papers we are given the opportunity to explore societal influence on and response to EBD.  Strong links are made between EBD and abuse and neglect, mental health and antisocial behaviour. In paper eleven, Paul OMahony presents a strong case linking juvenile delinquency and EBD in school years.

Part three comprises nine papers under the heading Strategies and Interventions. Anyone working with children and young people diagnosed with EBD should read all of these papers as part of their training and induction. It is in these papers that we find all the tools necessary to interact positively and usefully with children and young people diagnosed with EBD. I will use each of these papers during in-house training and development.

Part four is a series of five papers under the heading of Some points of tension and development. It is in these chapters we are challenged to think and question preconceived and out-dated assumptions. Here, the training colleges and universities are taken to task for not bringing EBD management strategies into the set training curriculum. This handbook brings evidence of excellent research and theoretical development on an international basis. However, this research appears to be rarely translated into practice in education systems. This final part of the handbook is thought provoking and challenging. Any practitioner working with children and young people with EBD will be forced into reviewing their own practice on completion of these chapters.

To sum up, this book is a valuable and useful tool. It is easy to read, wide reaching, accessible and not full of jargon. It is a must have book for all students and practitioners working with children and young people in health, social care or education.

Irene Hayes

 

Emotional Survival - An Emotional Literacy Course for High School Students by Tina Rae.  Published 2004 by Sage Publishing.  164 pages.  Paperback ISBN 1-904315-29-1.  Price 26.99 

When I did my life coaching and business performance management training we were encouraged to quickly rate (avoids rationalisation!) something on a scale of 1-10  a technique used a lot in Emotional Survival.  So here goes . . .

7 out of 10 : - Could do better.

On the bright side 7 represents a lot of good quality valuable resources which could be picked up and used in a learning environment. Where the book falls down is that you can't, I would even go as far as to say should not, just pick it up and go.

Part of the problem is the way the 20 sessions have been structured. With the exception of the two introductory sessions and the final review session each of the other sessions is heading "Feeling . . ." The feelings covered by this  approach in sequence are: 'feeling ... accepted, positive, threatened, angry, stressed, assertive, listened to, in control, in conflict, co-operative, empathic, different, reflective, friendly, moody, bereaved and motivated.

The title dictates the focus of the session starting with a key definition, for example - 'Feeling in conflict is when you know that you disagree with someone and you don't want to give in and let them have their way as this will cause you to feel angry and stressed'.

From a personal point of view some of the feelings chosen are not real feelings I was always taught that assertiveness was a skill, and as for 'in conflict'  well I wouldn't like to have to work with that as the focus for a session. 

The next area of concern is the structure of the session itself. In the preamble we are told that each session lasts about 45-55 minutes.  In that time there is an introduction to clarify aims and objectives of the session (which are not supplied) and a brainstorming session to refine the supplied definition of the sessions feeling. Then we have an icebreaker, circle time, 2- 3 activities (the first of which is usually a brainstorming exercise, then some kind of practical assignment), a take home task and finally the whole session is rounded off by a plenary.

As luck (!) would have it I have done nearly all of the icebreakers and variations on the exercises during management and life / business coach training and I simply don't see how you can do justice to all these activities in the time allowed.  I suspect that something will have to go 

I also wonder about the take home activity this is billed as a reinforcement activity but many of the activities bring in new material or ask the students to think in different directions.   And it never gets referred to there is no recap and no place in a session to ask people how they got on with the exercise. In my day homework not handed in never got done.  Are today's students more conscientious?

And my last concern is for some of the values reflected in the lessons themselves.  One self assessment quiz has character evaluation, 'I am considerate,   adventurous,   kind' and then out the blue it has 'I am popular' and then in the take home task you are encouraged to work on low scores. 

It's great that we want to teach our children how to recognise and cope with bad things, being threatened, feeling different and losing someone close. 

We do them a disservice if we don't also teach them to recognise and appreciate the good things in life which can be small and strategies and techniques for optimism, confidence and tolerance.

In the last paragraph of the introduction Tina Rae says that she was inspired by Stone and Dillehunt (1978) to develop this program and she hopes that the program provides a starting point for pupils.  She also notes that staff may become more aware of their need to re-evaluate their own emotional health.

So I can at last agree whole heartedly with Rae this is a starting point I think it is a starting point for a school and its teachers. Working from here teachers can ensure that what they teach is supported by the day to day activities of all the staff.

I would go as far as to suggest that the teachers try it on themselves first ....after all often the best teacher is a good example.

My advice .....   Buy it, Try it, Adapt it, Live it, Teach it.

But you may have to turn a blind eye to some of the inconsistencies and certainly will have to ignore many proof-reading and printing errors.

Rosie Harrison

 

Travels in Four Dimensions - The Enigmas of Space and Time by Robin Le Poidevin.  Published 2004 by Oxford University Press.  ISBN 0-19-875255-5.  Paperback 275 pages.  Price 9.99

What a delightful book is this introduction to the philosophical mysteries of space and time. Its obvious intention is to stimulate the reader into a fresh perspective of these concepts, so that we perceive them in quite different ways from those ordinarily taken for granted.

There is so much to praise and such a minor piece of criticism, that I think I'll get the latter out of the way immediately and clear the ground for the bouquets.  Le Poidevin's use of the word "Enigma" in the subtitle to his work strikes me as being somewhat inappropriate.  I would have preferred - as being more accurate - the word "Paradox".  Nit-picking, perhaps, but when dealing in philosophical concepts I consider that linguistic accuracy is important.  Particularly when  Le Poidevin himself (in the introduction) refers to "introducing the reader to the classic paradoxes . . . of space and time."

Definitions from the OED (online edition): PARADOX: (A) A statement or tenet contrary to received opinion or belief. (B) A seemingly absurd statement or proposition which, when investigated or explained, may prove to be well-founded or true.  (C) A phenomenon that exhibits some contradiction or conflict with preconceived notions of what is reasonable or possible.  ENIGMA (A) A riddle, usually one involving metaphor.  (B) A perplexing, mysterious or unexplained thing.

Having expressed that minor niggle, let me now give praise where it's due.  This is a book that covers the area of some of the most bewildering of philosophical and scientific paradoxes from Aristotle to the twentieth century in a style that is totally comprehensible to the general reader with no academic knowledge of philosophy or science.

This was nowhere more true for me than in the author's chapters dealing with the Aristotelian motion paradoxes as described by Zeno of Elea 2500 years ago.  I was first introduced to this concept when, as a 14-year old schoolboy in South Wales towards the end of the Second World War, I found and bought a secondhand copy of C.E.M. Joad's Guide to Philosophy.  It was a book designed to introduce philosophy and philosophers from the Greeks to modern times to the general reader embarking on a study of philosophy.  Here it differed from Robin Le Poidevin's expressed intent that ". . . this is not a popular science book, nor is it an introduction to the philosophy of space-time physics".  

So, using the example of Zeno's paradoxes (the Arrow, and Achilles and the tortoise), I find that where Joad put these in his own simple language[1] to make the ideas accessible to the general reader, Poidevin has used the more classic text, but depended upon his own clarity of explanation to achieve that same accessibility.  And he has done it very well.[2]

He has adopted much the same method in describing two other variants of the Arrow paradox and also the Achilles and the Tortoise paradox (Achilles, having given the tortoise a start, will never overtake it.  When Achilles - from point A with the tortoise at point B - reaches point B, the tortoise will already have moved to point C.  There will always be a gap between the two.)

I have devoted so much time and space (the pun is deliberate) to the subject of motion that I shall have to deal rather briefly with the area that will probably be of most interest to readers: that of Robin Le Poidevin's consideration of the perplexities of time and space and his own views on the subject.

Amongst the questions he poses are: Are space and mind merely products of our minds? Is there a fourth dimension in space? Do parallel worlds exist? Did time have a beginning?  Could time run backwards? Might time travel be possible? Could space exist with nothing in it? Could there be space beyond the universe?  Does time really flow, or is that simply an illusion?   Le Poidevin himself believes that time doesn't actually flow and that it is possible for space and time to be both finite and yet without boundaries.

The challenge that he throws down to readers is very usefully supported by a series of questions he poses at the end of each chapter.  This ensures that readers will consider the arguments that have been propounded in the chapter . . . and be obliged to think for themselves.

It is not for nothing that Robin Le Poidevin holds the Chair of Metaphysics at Leeds University.

 


[1] Delving into the recess of a 60 year old memory, it went something like this: "Take any example of motion, an arrow let us say in its flight.  At any given moment it either is where it is or it is where it isn't.  If it is where it is, it cannot be moving, or it would not be there.  And it can't be where it isn't.  So at that particular moment it is not moving.  But the same argument applies to every other moment.  Therefore at no moment is the arrow moving.  Therefore its apparent movement is an illusion.

[2] (Page 150) 1. If the arrow moves through the period of its flight, then it moves at each instant of that period.  2.  The arrow occupies a space equal to its own volume at each instant.  3.  If the arrow occupies a space equal to its own volume at an instant, then it is not in motion at that instant.  Therefore (from 2 and 3): 4.  The arrow is not in motion at any instant of the period. Therefore (from 1 and 4): The arrow does not move throughout the period of its flight.

Joe Sinclair


 

Reviewers' Biodata

Joe Sinclair is a writer, editor, publisher, and non-executive director of a shipping line - amongst other activities - one of which is the publishing of Nurturing Potential. His several websites may be accessed via  http://www.conts.com

Mark Edwards was a head teacher, who still teaches part-time but combines this with writing articles, educational consultancy and entertaining people who like to hear badly performed rock, pop and music hall classics.

John Ewing is a Systems Engineer who has worked in various domains ranging from implantable cardiac devices to the measurement of low-intensity radioactive emissions.  He currently runs his own company in Alsace, France.

Sep Meyer is a graduate of the London School of Economics and, since his retirement from a commercial life, has been devoting his time to a totally non-commercial activity, writing unsaleable poetry and unmarketable drama. 

Irene Hayes  manages a project for 14 -16 year-old disaffected students with many complex problems that present barriers to achieving potential.  Her conviction is that these young people are not 'bad kids' but are victims of a society that has let them down at too many levels.

Rosie Harrison is an ex Systems Analyst, Strategic Risk Manager and trainer, and corporate business manager.   Currently she is working as a life coach and business mentor. She also teaches Tai Chi.