Ways of Knowing: The Reality Club 3

John Brockman, Editor Prentice Hall $11.95 (284p) ISBN 978-0-13-517236-0
This third collection from members of The Reality Club, a society of intellectuals founded by Brockman ( Afterwords ), offers several provocative essays but is more uneven than the last entry in the series. In one of the strongest pieces, linguist Vitaly Shevoroshkin and journalist John Woodford maintain that all of the world's languages descend from one ancient ``Proto-World'' language. In a joint essay, Mary Catherine Bateson and her daughter Sevanne Margaret Kassarjian record their first impressions of Israel: Bateson, who visited in 1956 with her own mother, Margaret Mead, saw ``a parable of possibility''; in 1988, Kassarjian viewed the country as ``a symbol of the need to keep struggling in spite of ambiguity.'' Morris Berman makes the refreshingly irreverent argument that history is the story of people's bodies as well as their minds, and when history ignores that fact under the guise of objectivity, it becomes ``not merely boring'' but ``also, quite simply, wrong.'' Less convincing is physicist Gerald Feinberg's defense of elitism. Using the university as one example, he argues that our merit-based system allows the cream of the faculty to rise to the top--a claim of almost breathtaking naivete. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
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