It seems to me that among all the posts I’ve made and all the material I’ve proliferated that there are some who probably wonder what are some of my favorite academic disciplines and whom would be my favorite intellectuals.
These questions are not entirely easy to answer. Provided with so many faces and a variety of works I am not sure I can definitively commit myself to one or the other. I will, however, offer a few people and works I have thoroughly enjoyed.
In terms of probably the smartest person alive and someone who appears to know a great deal about their field (and no doubt has a passion for it), I would first list Edward Witten. The man is extraordinarily smart and gift beyond all measure. From what I’ve read about him, he has an IQ of over 200, he’s incredibly articulate (and a fast talker as well), a gifted writer who can easily communicate his subject matter, and just an all around nice person. Certainly his material is incomprehensible to the average person and we can only hope to achieve his status within our lifetime. But he is a great thinker nonetheless.
Next on my list would be Garry Kasparov. Generally regarded as the greatest chess player of all time, Kasparov has an IQ of almost 200 (rumored but not yet confirmed), previously the highest chess rating of all time (exceeding Bobby Fishers), world champion status and title for nearly 20 years, defeated several chess computers, and the author of numerous articles and books. What I’ve enjoyed about Kasparov is his passion and commitment to the game of chess but also his practical ability to expand the concepts behind it. Human intuition has been one concept that Kasparov has discussed over and over again and it’s ability to direct people in decision-making. One may disagree, others may find him enlightening. But it’s clear Kasparov knows what he’s talking about and has the experience and accolades to back it up.
Last on my list (at least for now) would be Alvin Plantinga. An American philosopher at the University of Notre Dame (now retired), Plantinga is known for his seminal contributions to Christian philosophy and theistic thought. Among his works Plantinga is known for his theories of reformed epistemology on the probably basic beliefs on God, the free-will defense for the problem of evil, and the relationship between religion and science. Plantinga is also noted for being an outspoken Christian and defending the rational basis of belief in Christian thought. Some of the traits I’ve enjoyed about Plantinga is his consistency between his works and his life. Plantinga is a extremely nice guy and a warm soul to be around. He extols Christian virtues and is probably one of the more patient and humble people I have met in my life. Among the three people I have listed as people I really admire Plantinga is remarkably the only person I have met in real life. Hopefully one day I can change that.
Now of course there are many other names worth mentioning such as HH the Dalai Lama, Richard Dawkins, Thomas Nagel, Brian Greene, Dennis Prager, and many more. But aforementioned people I generally regard as my favorites and people I listen to the most and who appear to have the most insight on their disciplines. Now I will briefly list some books/articles I have thoroughly enjoyed over the years.
Mortal Questions by Thomas Nagel
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
How Life Imitates Chess by Garry Kasparov
Science and Religion by Alvin Plantinga
Reasonable Faith by William Lane Craig
These books offer some of the deepest and most thought provoking insights into subjects of philosophy, psychology, and theology. I have found the material contained therein to be the most enlightening and life-changing despite everything else I’ve read. I encourage you to read these books whenever you get the chance. That’s all for now. Take care.
Since it seems my book list is one of the more popular posts on here (both for myself and others) I thought I’d post some books I am currently working on and I hope to complete by the end of the week. You can probably tell from reading the titles that I really have diverse tastes (and I don’t necessarily agree with everything I read about nor every argument that is made).
How to Reassess Your Chess by Jeremy Silman
Reasonable Faith by William Lane Craig
The Conscious Mind by David Chalmers
Unended Quest by Karl Popper
Mind and Cosmos by Thomas Nagel
What is Marriage? by Sherif Girgis, Ryan Anderson and Robert George
I know not who sent me into the world, nor what the world is, nor what I myself am.
I am terribly ignorant of everything. I know not what my body is, nor my senses, nor
my soul and that part of me which thinks what I say, which reflects upon itself as well
as upon all external things, and has no more knowledge of itself than of them.
I see the terrifying immensity of the universe which surrounds me, and find myself
limited to one corner of this vast expanse, without knowing why I am set down here
rather than elsewhere, nor why the brief period appointed for my life is assigned to
me at this moment rather than another in all the eternity that has gone before and
will come after me. On all sides I behold nothing but infinity, in which I am a mere
atom, a mere passing shadow that returns no more. All I know is that I must soon
die, but what I understand least of all is this very death which I cannot escape.
As I know not whence I come, so I know not whither I go. I only know that on
leaving this world I fall for ever into nothingness or into the hands of a wrathful
God, without knowing to which of these two states I shall be everlastingly consigned.
Such is my condition, full of weakness and uncertainty. From all this I conclude that
I ought to spend every day of my life without seeking to know my fate. I might
perhaps be able to find a solution to my doubts; but I cannot be bothered to do so,
I will not take one step towards its discovery.3