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Two recommended books

Apr 24, 1998 12:01 PM
by K. Paul Johnson

This week's batch of new books here at the library includes two
that I recommend for Theosophists and those interested in
Theosophy on the Net.  Barbara Goldsmith's *Other Powers: The Age of
Suffrage, Spiritualism, and the Scandalous Victoria Woodhull*
gives a very vivid portrayal of the milieu in which the
Theosophical Movement was born.  Most of it is devoted to New
York in the 1870s, the Spiritualistic milieu receiving particular
notice.  The second book, *The Argument Culture: Moving from
Debate to Dialogue*, by Deborah Tannen illuminates the ways
contemporary culture pushes toward polarization in discourse.
Every topic gets reduced to two mutually exclusive polar
opposites; the media focus on conflict more than on constructive
dialogue and the entire culture is warped by that emphasis.  This
is relevant to the kind of discussions that we have had in the
past on the theos- lists.  "Approaching situations like warriors
in battle leads to the assumption that intellectual inquiry,
too, is a game of attack, counterattack, and self-defense.  In
that spirit, critical thinking is synonymous with
criticizing...Opposition does not lead to the whole truth when we
ask only `What's wrong with this?' and never `What can we use
from this in building a new theory, a new understanding?'"


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