Jim Flynn, an Otago University emeritus professor and international expert on IQ and human intelligence, is on a mission. He wants to change how we think about the modern world and our place in it.
In The Torchlight List, published in 2010, he argued that reading great literature can change your life by providing a working knowledge of history and the human condition - and could be better than a university education.
In his new book Fate & Philosophy: A Journey through Life's Great Questions (Awa Press, $33) he looks at the tough moral choices human beings face every day, and the answers provided by philosophers and scientists over the centuries. His message: make your own decisions about what you believe, and resist subconscious conditioning inherited from parents, religion and other influences.
'There is,' he writes, 'great satisfaction in questioning what you believe. Understanding ethics will cure you of wanting some authority to tell you what is right and wrong. Understanding science will inoculate you against a whole legion of nonsense, from astrology to the Bermuda Triangle to whether people can use psychic powers to bend spoons. Understanding religious experience will inoculate you against childish concepts of god.'
Flynn also examines groundbreaking scientific developments in brain research and the discovery of dark matter in the universe. Will this new knowledge render philosophy - the very idea that we can determine our own fate - obsolete?
The Torchlight List and Fate & Philosophy are the first two books in Flynn's Modern World trilogy, which he says will provide the tools for fully understanding and participating in contemporary life. The third is due next year.
Fate & Philosophy will be released by Awa Press on June 21. RRP NZ $33.
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