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A fascinating exploration of how computer algorithms can be applied to our everyday lives. In this dazzlingly interdisciplinary work, acclaimed author Brian Christian and cognitive scientist Tom Griffiths show us how the simple, precise algorithms used by computers can also untangle very human questions. Modern life is constrained by limited space and time, limits that give rise to a particular set of problems. What should we do, or leave undone, in a day or a lifetime? How much messiness should we accept? The authors explain how to have better hunches and when to leave things to chance, how to deal with overwhelming choices and how best to connect with others. From finding a spouse to finding a parking spot, from organizing one's inbox to understanding the workings of human memory, Algorithms To Live By is full of practical takeaways to help you solve common decision-making problems and illuminate the workings of the human mind.
John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) is perhaps the foremost economic thinker of the twentieth century. On economic theory, he ranks with Adam Smith and Karl Marx; and his impact on how economics was practiced, from the Great Depression to the 1970s, was unmatched. The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money was first published in 1936. But its ideas had been forming for decades as a student at Cambridge, Keynes had written to a friend of his love for 'Free Trade and free thought'. Keynes's limpid style, concise prose, and vivid descriptions have helped to keep his ideas alive - as have the novelty and clarity, at times even the ambiguity, of his macroeconomic vision. He was troubled, above all, by high unemployment rates and large disparities in wealth and income. Only by curbing both, he thought, could individualism, 'the most powerful instrument to better the future', be safeguarded. The twenty-first century may yet prove him right. In The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1919), Keynes elegantly and acutely exposes the folly of imposing austerity on a defeated and struggling nation.
Few writers have had a more demonstrable impact on the development of the modern world than has Karl Marx (1818-1883). Born in Trier into a middle-class Jewish family in 1818, by the time of his death in London in 1883, Marx claimed a growing international reputation. Of central importance then and later was his book Das Kapital, or, as it is known to English readers, simply Capital. Volume One of Capital was published in Paris in 1867. This was the only volume published during Marx's lifetime and the only to have come directly from his pen. Volume Two, published in 1884, was based on notes Marx left, but written by his friend and collaborator, Friedrich Engels (1820-1895). Readers from the nineteenth century to the present have been captivated by the unmistakable power and urgency of this classic of world literature. Marx's critique of the capitalist system is rife with big themes: his theory of 'surplus value', his discussion of the exploitation of the working class, and his forecast of class conflict on a grand scale. Marx wrote with purpose. As he famously put it, 'Philosophers have previously tried to explain the world, our task is to change it.'
Adam Smith (1723-1790) was one of the brightest stars of the eighteenth-century Scottish Enlightenment. An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations was his most important book. First published in London in March 1776, it had been eagerly anticipated by Smith's contemporaries and became an immediate bestseller. That edition sold out quickly and others followed. Today, Smith's Wealth of Nations rightfully claims a place in the Western intellectual canon. It is the first book of modern political economy, and still provides the foundation for the study of that discipline. But it is much more than that. Along with important discussions of economics and political theory, Smith mixed plain common sense with large measures of history, philosophy, psychology, sociology, and much else. Few texts remind us so clearly that the Enlightenment was very much a lived experience, a concern with improving the human condition in practical ways for real people. A masterpiece by any measure, Wealth of Nations remains a classic of world literature to be usefully enjoyed by readers today.
Translated by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, The Holy Qur'an (also known as The Koran) is the sacred book of Islam. It is the word of God whose truth was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad through the angel Gabriel over a period of 23 years. As it was revealed, so it was committed to memory by his companions, though written copies were also made by literate believers during the lifetime of the Prophet. The first full compilation was by Abu Bakar, the first Caliph, and it was then recompiled in the original dialect by the third Caliph Uthman, after the best reciters had fallen in battle. Muslims believe that the truths of The Holy Qur'an are fully and authentically revealed only in the original classical Arabic. However, as the influence of Islam grows and spreads to the modern world, it is recognised that translation is an important element in introducing and explaining Islam to a wider audience. This translation, by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, is considered to be the most faithful rendering available in English.
Translated by George Chapman, with Introductions by Jan Parker. Hector bidding farewell to his wife and baby son, Odysseus bound to the mast listening to the Sirens, Penelope at the loom, Achilles dragging Hector's body round the walls of Troy - scenes from Homer have been reportrayed in every generation. The questions about mortality and identity that Homer's heroes ask, the bonds of love, respect and fellowship that motivate them, have gripped audiences for three millennia. Chapman's Iliad and Odyssey are great English epic poems, but they are also two of the liveliest and readable translations of Homer. Chapman's freshness makes the everyday world of nature and the craftsman as vivid as the battlefield and Mount Olympus. His poetry is driven by the excitement of the Renaissance discovery of classical civilisation as at once vital and distant, and is enriched by the perspectives of humanist thought.
With an introduction by Charlotte R. Brown and William Edward Morris. David Hume (1711-1776) was the most important philosopher ever to write in English, as well as a master stylist. This volume contains his major philosophical works. A Treatise of Human Nature (1739-1740), published while Hume was still in his twenties, consists of three books on the understanding, the passions, and morals. It applies the experimental method of reasoning to human nature in a revolution that was intended to make Hume the Newton of the moral sciences. Disappointed with the Treatise's failure to bring about such a revolution, Hume later recast Book I as An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding (1751), and Book III as An Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals, which he regarded as 'incomparably the best' of all his works. Both Enquiries went through several editions in his lifetime. Hume's works, controversial in his day, remain deeply and widely influential in ours, especially for his contributions to our understanding of the nature of morality, political and economic theory, philosophy of religion, and philosophical naturalism. This volume also includes Hume's anonymous Abstract of Books I and II of the Treatise, and the short autobiographical essay, 'My Own Life', which he wrote just before his death.
Translated by H. F. Cary With an introduction by Claire Honess. Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) is one of the most important and innovative figures of the European Middle Ages. Writing his Comedy (the epithet Divine was added by later admirers) in exile from his native Florence, he aimed to address a world gone astray both morally and politically. At the same time, he sought to push back the restrictive rules which traditionally governed writing in the Italian vernacular, to produce a radically new and all-encompassing work. The Comedy tells of the journey of a character who is at one and the same time both Dante himself and Everyman through the three realms of the Christian afterlife: Hell, Purgatory and Heaven. He presents a vision of the afterlife which is strikingly original in its conception, with a complex architecture and a coherent structure. On this journey Dante's protagonist - and his reader - meet characters who are variously noble, grotesque, beguiling, fearful, ridiculous, admirable, horrific and tender, and through them he is shown the consequences of sin, repentance and virtue, as he learns to avoid Hell and, through cleansing in Purgatory, to taste the joys of Heaven.
With an introduction by Dr. Laurence Marlow. A spectre is haunting Europe (and the world). Not, in the twenty-first century, the spectre of communism, but the spectre of capitalism. Marx's prediction that the state would wither away of its own accord has proved inaccurate, and he did not foresee the tyrannies which have ruled large parts of the globe in his name. Indeed, he would have been appalled if he had witnessed them. But his analysis of the evils and dangers of raw capitalism is as correct now as when it was written, and some of his suggestions (progressive income tax, abolition of child labour, free education for all children) are now accepted with little question. In a world where capitalism is no longer held in check by fear of a communist alternative, The Communist Manifesto (with Socialism Utopian and Scientific, Engels's brief and clear exposition of Marxist thought) is essential reading. The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844 is Engels's first, and probably best-known, book. With Henry Mayhew's London Labour and the London Poor, it was and is the outstanding study of the working class in Victorian England.
Translated by J.J. Graham, revised by F.N. Maude Abridged and with an Introduction by Louise Willmot. On War is perhaps the greatest book ever written about war. Carl von Clausewitz, a Prussian soldier, had witnessed at first hand the immense destructive power of the French Revolutionary armies which swept across Europe between 1792 and 1815. His response was to write a comprehensive text covering every aspect of warfare. On War is both a philosophical and practical work in which Clausewitz defines the essential nature of war, debates the qualities of the great commander, assesses the relative strengths of defensive and offensive warfare, and - in highly controversial passages - considers the relationship between war and politics. His arguments are illustrated with vivid examples drawn from the campaigns of Frederick the Great and Napoleon Bonaparte. For the student of society as well as the military historian, On War remains a compelling and indispensable source.
With an Introduction by Professor Stuart Sim. John Bunyan was variously a tinker, soldier, Baptist minister, prisoner and writer of outstanding narrative genius which reached its apotheosis in this, his greatest work. It is an allegory of the Christian life of true brilliance and is presented as a dream which describes the pilgrimage of the hero - Christian - from the City of Destruction via the Slough of Despond, the Hill of Difficulty, the Valley of the Shadow of Death and Vanity Fair over the River of the Water of Life and into the Celestial City. The Pilgrim's Progress has been translated into 108 languages, was a favourite of Dr Johnson and was praised by Coleridge as one of the few books which might be read repeatedly and each time with a new and different pleasure.
Translated, with an Introduction and Notes by John R. Williams. Goethe's Faust is a classic of European literature. Based on the fable of the man who traded his soul for superhuman powers and knowledge, it became the life's work of Germany's greatest poet. Beginning with an intriguing wager between God and Satan, it charts the life of a deeply flawed individual and his struggle against the nihilism of his diabolical companion Mephistopheles. Part One presents Faust's pact with the Devil and the harrowing tragedy of his love affair with the young Gretchen. Part Two shows Faust's experience in the world of public affairs, including his encounter with Helen of Troy, the emblem of classical beauty and culture. The whole is a symbolic and panoramic commentary on the human condition and on modern European history and civilisation. This new translation of both parts of Faust preserves the poetic character of the original, its tragic pathos and hilarious comedy. In addition, John Williams has translated the Urfaust, a fascinating glimpse into the young Goethe's imagination, and a selection from the draft scenarios for the Walpurgis Night witches' sabbath - material so ribald and blasphemous that Goethe did not dare publish it.
Translated by Thomas Common. With an Introduction by Nicholas Davey. This astonishing series of aphorisms, put into the mouth of the Persian sage Zarathustra, or Zoroaster, contains the kernel of Nietzsche's thought. 'God is dead', he tells us. Christianity is decadent, leading mankind into a slave morality concerned not with this life, but with the next. Nietzsche emphasises the UEbermensch, or Superman, whose will to power makes him the creator of a new heroic mentality. The intensely felt ideas are expressed in prose-poetry of indefinable beauty. Though misused by the German National Socialist party as a spurious justification of their creed, the book also had a profound influence on early twentieth-century writers such as Shaw, Mann, Gide, Lawrence and Sartre.
Translated by W.H.White and A.K.Stirling. With an Introduction by Don Garrett. Benedict de Spinoza lived a life of blameless simplicity as a lens-grinder in Holland. And yet in his lifetime he was expelled from the Jewish community in Amsterdam as a heretic, and after his death his works were first banned by the Christian authorities as atheistic, then hailed by humanists as the gospel of Pantheism. His Ethics Demonstrated in Geometrical Order shows us the reality behind this enigmatic figure. First published by his friends after his premature death at the age of forty-four, the Ethics uses the methods of Euclid to describe a single entity, properly called both 'God' and 'Nature', of which mind and matter are two manifestations. From this follow, in ways that are strikingly modern, the identity of mind and body, the necessary causation of events and actions, and the illusory nature of free will.
Translated by Yuan Shibing and J.J.L.Duyvendak. With introductions by Robert Wilkinson. The two political classics in this book are the product of a time of intense turmoil in Chinese history. Dating from the Period of the Warring States (403-221BC), they anticipate Machiavelli's The Prince by nearly 2000 years. The Art of War is the best known of a considerable body of Chinese works on the subject. It analyses the nature of war, and reveals how victory may be ensured. The Book of Lord Shang is a political treatise for the instruction of rulers. These texts are anything but armchair strategy or ivory-tower speculation. They are serious, urgent and practical responses to the desperate situations in which they were written. They have been immensely influential both inside and outside China.
Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, published between 1776 and 1788, is the undisputed masterpiece of English historical writing which can only perish with the language itself. Its length alone is a measure of its monumental quality: seventy-one chapters, of which twenty-eight appear in full in this edition. With style, learning and wit, Gibbon takes the reader through the history of Europe from the second century AD to the fall of Constantinople in 1453 - an enthralling account by 'the greatest of the historians of the Enlightenment'. This edition includes Gibbon's footnotes and quotations, here translated for the first time, together with brief explanatory comments, a precis of the chapters not included, 16 maps, a glossary, and a list of emperors.
Translated by C.E.Detmold. With an Introduction by Lucille Margaret Kekewich. Written in 1513 for the Medici, following their return to power in Florence, The Prince is a handbook on ruling and the exercise of power. It remains as relevant today as it was in the sixteenth century. Widely quoted in the Press and in academic publications, The Prince has direct relevance to the issues of business and corporate governance confronting global corporations as they enter a new millennium. Much of what Machiavelli wrote has become the common currency of realpolitik, yet still his ideas retain the power to shock and annoy. In the words of Norman Stone, The Prince is 'a manual of man-management that would suit a great many parts of the modern world'.
Translated by John Llewelyn Davies and David James Vaughan. With an Introduction by Stephen Watt. The ideas of Plato (c429-347BC) have influenced Western philosophers for over two thousand years. Such is his importance that the twentieth-century philosopher A.N. Whitehead described all subsequent developments within the subject as foot-notes to Plato's work. Beyond philosophy, he has exerted a major influence on the development of Western literature, politics and theology. The Republic deals with the great range of Plato's thought, but is particularly concerned with what makes a well-balanced society and individual. It combines argument and myth to advocate a life organized by reason rather than dominated by desires and appetites. Regarded by some as the foundation document of totalitarianism, by others as a call to develop the full potential of humanity, the Republic remains a challenging and intensely exciting work.
With an Introduction by Derek Matravers. In The Social Contract Rousseau (1712-1778) argues for the preservation of individual freedom in political society. An individual can only be free under the law, he says, by voluntarily embracing that law as his own. Hence, being free in society requires each of us to subjugate our desires to the interests of all, the general will. Some have seen in this the promise of a free and equal relationship between society and the individual, while others have seen it as nothing less than a blueprint for totalitarianism. The Social Contract is not only one of the great defences of civil society, it is also unflinching in its study of the darker side of political systems.
A new version of John Payne's Victorian translation, with an Introduction by Cormac O Cuilleanain. 1348. The Black Death is sweeping through Europe. In Florence, plague has carried off one hundred thousand people. In their Tuscan villas, seven young women and three young men tell tales to recreate the world they have lost, weaving a rich tapestry of comedy, tragedy, ribaldry and farce. Boccaccio's Decameron recasts the storytelling heritage of the ancient and medieval worlds into perennial forms that inspired writers from Chaucer and Shakespeare down to our own day. Boccaccio makes the incredible believable, with detail so sharp we can look straight into the lives of people who lived six hundred years ago. His Decameron hovers between the fading glories of an aristocratic past - the Crusades, the Angevins, the courts of France, the legendary East - and the colourful squalor of contemporary life, where wives deceive husbands, friars and monks pursue fleshly ends, and natural instincts fight for satisfaction. Here are love and jealousy, passion and pride - and a shrewd calculation of profit and loss which heralds the rise of a dynamic merchant class. These stories show us early capitalism during a moment of crisis and revelation.
Notes and Introduction by Mark G. Spencer, Brock University, Ontario John Locke (1632-1704) was perhaps the most influential English writer of his time. His Essay concerning Human Understanding (1690) and Two Treatises of Government (1690) weighed heavily on the history of ideas in the eighteenth century, and Locke's works are often rightly presented as foundations of the Age of Enlightenment. Both the Essay and the Second Treatise (by far the more influential of the Two Treatises) were widely read by Locke's contemporaries and near contemporaries. His eighteenth-century readers included philosophers, historians and political theorists, but also community and political leaders, engaged laypersons, and others eager to participate in the expanding print culture of the era. His epistemological message that the mind at birth was a blank slate, waiting to be filled, complemented his political message that human beings were free and equal and had the right to create and direct the governments under which they lived. Today, Locke continues to be an accessible author. He provides food for thought to university professors and their students, but has no less to offer the general reader who is eager to enjoy the classics of world literature.
Translated by H.F. Cary With an Introduction by Claire Honess. Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) is one of the most important and innovative figures of the European Middle Ages. Writing his Comedy (the epithet 'Divine' was added by later admirers) in exile from his native Florence, he aimed to address a world gone astray both morally and politically. At the same time, he sought to push back the restrictive rules which traditionally governed writing in the Italian vernacular, to produce a radically new and all-encompassing work. The Comedy tells the story of the journey of a character who is at one and the same time both Dante himself and Everyman. In the Inferno, Dante's protagonist - and his reader - is presented with a graphic vision of the dreadful consequences of sin, and encounters an all-too-human array of noble, grotesque, beguiling, ridiculous and horrific characters.
With an Introduction by Jeff Wallace. 'A grain in the balance will determine which individual shall live and which shall die...'. Darwin's theory of natural selection issued a profound challenge to orthodox thought and belief: no being or species has been specifically created; all are locked into a pitiless struggle for existence, with extinction looming for those not fitted for the task. Yet The Origin of Species (1859) is also a humane and inspirational vision of ecological interrelatedness, revealing the complex mutual interdependencies between animal and plant life, climate and physical environment, and - by implication - within the human world. Written for the general reader, in a style which combines the rigour of science with the subtlety of literature, The Origin of Species remains one of the founding documents of the modern age.
With an Introduction by Angus Calder. As Angus Calder states in his introduction to this edition, 'Seven Pillars of Wisdom is one of the major statements about the fighting experience of the First World War'. Lawrence's younger brothers, Frank and Will, had been killed on the Western Front in 1915. Seven Pillars of Wisdom, written between 1919 and 1926, tells of the vastly different campaign against the Turks in the Middle East - one which encompasses gross acts of cruelty and revenge and ends in a welter of stink and corpses in the disgusting 'hospital' in Damascus. Seven Pillars of Wisdom is no Boys Own Paper tale of Imperial triumph, but a complex work of high literary aspiration which stands in the tradition of Melville and Dostoevsky, and alongside the writings of Yeats, Eliot and Joyce.
Translated with Notes by George Rawlinson. With an Introduction by Tom Griffith. Herodotus (c480-c425) is 'The Father of History' and his Histories are the first piece of Western historical writing. They are also the most entertaining. Why did Pheidippides run the 26 miles and 385 yards (or 42.195 kilometres) from Marathon to Athens? And what did he do when he got there? Was the Battle of Salamis fought between sausage-sellers? Which is the oldest language in the world? Why did Leonidas and his 300 Spartans spend the morning before the battle of Thermopylae combing their hair? Why did every Babylonian woman have to sit in the Temple of Aphrodite until a man threw a coin into her lap, and how long was she likely to sit there? And what is the best way to kill a crocodile? This wide-ranging history provides the answers to all these fascinating questions as well as providing many fascinating insights into the Ancient World.
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