Kindle ePUB or Ebook Ishmael by Daniel Quinn AUTHOR Daniel Quinn

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Nder branch You are the teacher he asks incredulously I am the teacher the gorilla replies Ishmael is a creature of immense wisdom and he has a story to tell one that no other human being has ever heard It is a story that extends backward and forward over the lifespan of the earth from the birt. Lessons in Metaphysics for Recovering IdealistsThe conventional translation of the name Ishmael from Hebrew is God hears But there is an eually plausible alternative Man is God This could well be Daniel uinn s satirical intent First called Goliath then renamed Ishmael but acting like Socrates uinn s central character is a gorilla who teaches his idealistically minded now middle aged seeker that God is precisely what Man is not And he does this expertlyThe term metaphysics in understandably confusing to most people It does after all refer to that which is beyond rational knowledge Esoteric philosophy and religious mysticism are probably the first things that come to mind But metaphysics is neither esoteric nor mystical Rather it is the very straightforward stories we tell ourselves about how things have come to be as they are In fact these stories are so straightforward so obvious and so universally accepted that they are effectively invisible unless one happens to have a Socratically adept non human primate at handThe way to discover what the metaphysics of any culture are was perfected by Immanuel Kant in the late 18th century He called it transcendental deduction another intimidating term but something far simpler than it sounds In fact we do it all the time particularly when we re confronted with events that are somehow disturbing or traumatic Why for example does a terrorist act the way he does Why do very wealthy people put so much effort into increasing their wealth What is the real reason for a couples divorceThese are uestions which seek a certain type of answer namely What must be true in terms of motives reasoning or factual circumstances for people to act the way they do The trick in transcendental deduction is to take into account everything we know about the behaviour or the situation in uestion progressively removing those motives reasons and facts which are not necessary to explain what s going on This takes skill but it is not magic In fact according to uinn gorillas are not bad at it al allIshmael s transcendental deduction of modern culture is eye opening even if one doesn t agree entirely with the implications he draws from it Here s one metaphysical revelation for example The debate between Evolutionists and Creationists is completely meaningless and merely distracts from a universal presumption of modern culture that is taken as true without uestion According to both secularists and religionists mankind is the most important result of creation for the former because Homo sapiens is the most advanced rung on the ladder of evolution for the latter because he has been assigned the role of master of creation in holy scripture Any other difference in their respective views are mere uibblesThis presumption of human dominance over the Earth all its contents and its other inhabitants is the beginning of the metaphysical story which Ishmael elicits There is also a middle and end to this story that are likewise uncovered in a similar well paced dialogue uinn never let s Ishmael miss a step in his progression back through the obvious presumptions that we take for granted about the world nor as he moves forward into the unfortunate implications of these presumptions which increasingly appear as disasters for ourselves as well as the rest of the planetAlthough uinn is clearly making a cultural point his principal message is very personal What any one of us might think of as doing good may very well be contributing to the substantial reduction not just of human well being but also of life on Earth Tempering exuberant idealism could be an essential modern virtue Not being God demands caution as well as hard work This doesn t mean thinking smaller but bigger with rather wider metaphysical horizons than we ve allowed ourselves to have Ishmael or ish man or el deityPostscript I don t think I ve encountered reviews polarised on Goodreads than for this book Most ratings are either 5 s or 1 s very few in between I suspect there are two reasons for this Some folk find the Socratic method annoying either because it proceeds at a pace they find tedious or because they really can t follow the step by step development involved Others I think balk at the central theme of the book namely the dangers of cultural idealism This latter group is the hard market for the book I suppose and simply doesn t want to consider much less understand what uinn is suggestingFurther postscript 23Feb18

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Ishmael by Daniel Quinn

H of time to a future there is still time save Like all great teachers Ishmael refuses to make the lesson easy; he demands the final illumination to come from within ourselves Is it man's destiny to rule the world Or is it a higher destiny possible for him one wonderful than he has ever imagine. A little story about Ishmael by Daniel uinnI first read this back in the fall of 99 for a college course It was a time in my life where for a variety of reasons including a breakup of a long relationship I was first began to think for myself instead of think what others wanted me to think This book completely wiped away the world view that my parents friends and teachers had put into my head for so many years and then began the formation of my own view Since then I have been a seekerSynopsisAlan Lomax responds to an ad in the paper that says Teacher seeks pupil Must have an earnest deisre to save the world Apply in person The ad turns out to have been placed by gorilla who then through telepathic conversation basically explains why things are the way they are in the world I ve found the simple message of this book to have a huge impact on my view of the environment and our human relation to it Other things such as the book Collapse by Jared Diamond or Al Gore s movie An Inconvenient Truth have also had effect but Ishmael has been the most life changing in this respect This book made me aware of the horrible over consumption of resources of human beings in everyday life The world will not be saved by programs such as recycling or forest protection programs because people are countering these programs everyday in their daily activities What is needed is a change of view of our place in the world and that s what Ishmael gave me

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An Adventure of the Mind and SpiritThe narrator of this extraordinary tale is a man in search for truth He answers an ad in a local newspaper from a teacher looking for serious pupils only to find himself alone in an abandoned office with a full grown gorilla who is nibbling delicately on a sle. My biggest problem with primitivism as a philosophy is its inherent hypocrisy Notice how it s always highly educated white dudes insulated from the world who clamor for a return to some idealized simpler life In the case of this book it s a distinguished professor haughtily preaching about how we should learn some lessons from hunter gatherer people channeling his philosophy through a gorilla character who converses with an everyman character Ishmael the gorilla makes a passing derogatory mention of the noble savage idea then spends the rest of the book romanticizing and idealizing the hunter gatherer cultures trying to get across the idea that modern Western people have trouble seeing merit in such cultures because we ve been brainwashed by our industrialized societyBut the thing is going back to a hunter gatherer lifestyle would mean a goodbye to literacy to book publishing to all the things without which Daniel uinn and others like him would have no literary soapbox to stand on Instead he d be busy carrying his life on his back as he trudged across the plains looking for food and trying to not get eaten by lions He d die before the age of 40 of some perfectly treatable disease that is if he hadn t died while being born or during childhoodThe extreme utopianism and naivete pissed me off so much that I did some research on the anarcho primitivist philosophy behind it Turns out my views on this matter match those of Noam Chomsky who wrote the following in Chomsky on Anarchism I do not think they are realizing that what they are calling for is the mass genocide of millions of people because of the way society is now structured and organized urban life and so forth If you eliminate these structures everybody dies For example I can t grow my own food It s a nice idea but it s not going to work not in this world And in fact none of us want to live a hunter gatherer life There are just too many things in life that the modern world offers us In just plain terms of survival what they are calling for is the worst mass genocide in human history And unless one thinks through these things it s not really seriousIndeed mass genocide is exactly what uinn advocates in Ishmael One of his arguments is that the world s population is growing and draining the Earth s resources and to control the population we must reduce the food supply specifically to the parts of the world that are already experiencing famine To put it another way he s in favor of starving a million people in Africa and India whose only crime was being born in the wrong time and the wrong place Nice Dr uinn Why not just make it simpler and kill off the poorest 10 percent of the world s population That part of the book smelled a lot like Jonathan Swift s Modest Proposal to me except unfortunately uinn is not an intentional satiristAnother issue was the deeply rooted sexism in both the language and the thought process Here s a uote about why Mother Culture is always feminine in the text Culture is a mother everywhere and at every time because culture is inherently a nurturer Because of course a woman s role is always as mother and nurturer and not much elseThe starting premise of this book is that the human race is uickly destroying the Earth and we will kill ourselves and take the planet with us if we don t stop This is a premise with actual scientific proof behind it Humans believe that they are the end all be all of evolution and therefore the planet belongs to them to do as they please with no regard for other species or life forms and that s what s going to kill us sooner than later Nothing to disagree with there But uinn s solution is a bunch of hypocritical and unrealistic drivelAll that being said I know that for some people including my boyfriend who loves this book and is the reason I read it in the first place Ishmael is what opened their eyes to the dire need to protect the environment That s great I just hope that no one ends their search for a solution with this book and this philosophy


10 thoughts on “Ishmael by Daniel Quinn

  1. says:

    Are you the sort of person who hears other people discussing books and finding yourself wondering how they can even form opinions on stories? I mean either you like it or you don't right? Well if that's you then read this book The Giver and Siddhartha if that sounds like too much substitute Jonathan Livingston Seagull for the latter Once you've done that you'll feel all sorts of strange emotions and ideas swirling around inside you and you

  2. says:

    My biggest problem with primitivism as a philosophy is its inherent hypocrisy Notice how it's always highly educated white dudes insulated from the world who clamor for a return to some idealized simpler life? In the case of this book it's a distinguished professor haughtily preaching about how we should learn some lessons from hunter gatherer people channeling his philosophy through a gorilla character who converses with an everyman char

  3. says:

    This book gets many 5 star reviews and is touted as “life changing”My comment “GET A LIFE” This could possibly be THE WORST book I have ever read I have been reading this book forever I am so glad I am finished It’s 200 pages of torture This size of book I would normally devour in 1 2 days It’s a sociology le

  4. says:

    The reason I like uinn’s style in “Ishmael” is that he doesn’t assume a pedantic perch atop humanity and force feed a philosophically driven A Z laundry list of “how to make yourself a better human being” and “save the world one person at a time” mantra down the reader’s throat His style of writing is i

  5. says:

    Lessons in Metaphysics for Recovering IdealistsThe conventional translation of the name Ishmael from Hebrew is ‘God hears’ But there is an eually plausible alternative ‘Man is God’ This could well be Daniel uinn’s

  6. says:

    This book was recommended to me from my Ecology teacher on Saturday I bought it the same day because i really needed a decent read i having been craving this all the time lately I did not put it down until i was done with

  7. says:

    A little story about Ishmael by Daniel uinnI first read this back in the fall of '99 for a college course It was a time in my life where for a variety of reasons including a breakup of a long relationship I was first began to think for myself instead of think what others wanted me to think This book completely wiped away the world view tha

  8. says:

    Step right up ladies and gentlemen Behold the majesty of Curious George as he gets all dialogue y on your ass Your

  9. says:

    I haven't finished this book yet but I probably won't because it sucks First of all it's supposed to be a novel but it's entirely didactic The author has simply substituted this gorilla to preach at us in the author's voice The viewpo

  10. says:

    The top three reviews on this book are salty 1 star reviews 0oEven if you don't agree with the philosophical underpinnings of this novel it is a thought provoking tale of great powerThe story is allegorical but even the surface story is an emotional and engaging taleI found this deeply enjoyable It is certainly worth your time to take a look even if you don't agree with the philosophy

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