The last year (2015) has been troublesome throughout the world and especially for those individuals affected by failed governments and afflicted by civil wars. What has been positive is that there are great minds illuminating the troubles of mankind, although there is a caveat in the necessity of good public opinion to make use of this light. We can contribute to a good public opinion by learning to think for ourselves and practice this ability in our daily lives. A good public opinion is also crucial to distinguish the knights and the knaves among the intelligentsia. Without it, society is vulnerable to wacky leaders and their radicalisms. While a good public opinion is a defining element in all mature democracies, a trait that reoccurs in all immature democracies is the inability to recognise intelligence, home grown or otherwise.
Almost two and a half centuries ago, the West embraced secularism, following the lead of the great minds of the Enlightenment. Now, the greatest minds of the twenty-first century are trying to persuade humanity of the need to defend life here, and to consider the alternative of a post-theistic morality. Two outstanding minds at the forefront of this movement are Anthony C. Grayling and Daniel Dennett. Grayling is Professor of Philosophy and Master of the New College of the Humanities, in London, while Dennett is an American philosopher, writer, and cognitive scientist. Their ideas are greatly relevant to the troubles of the twenty-first century and are contained in my essay O Caminho do Humanismo (The Path to Humanism), published in this edition.
The two books reviewed in this edition are individually about the Persians and the Turks, two Eastern cultures at the centre of the global problems. They are both by Warwick Ball, an Australian-British archaeologist specialised in ancient cultures, and are part of a series of four entitled ‘Asia in Europe and the Making of the West’, by East & West Publishing. The first is Towards One World: Ancient Persia and the West, and the second is Sultans of Europe: The Turkish World Expansion. Warwick Ball’s main idea is that the chasm that separates the West from the East is more psychological than real and the sooner the world understands this the better it will be in terms of good relations between West and East. I hope that you enjoy the reviews and that you may even be prompted to read the books.
Joaquina Pires-O’Brien – Jan 2016
Pires-O’Brien, J. Editorial. The Knights Out There. PortVitoria, UK, v.12 Jan-Jun, 2016. ISSN 2044-8236.