Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Ominous Parallels, book recommendation

I just finished reading "The Ominous Parallels" by Leonard Peikoff and I can't recommend it highly enough. It is subtitled "The end of freedom in America." The parallels of course are those ideas that exist in America today and the German people in the 40 or so years leading up to the arrival of the Nazis and Hitler.

He showed how pragmatism destroyed the Germans' ability to think in terms of principles just as it's doing in America today, and how it reduces a human mind to the perceptual level of animals. But it isn't just pragmatism. Dr Peikoff discusses dogmatism, subjectivism--both individual and social versions, nihilism, romanticism, relativism and others.

I've heard people say that Hitler was insane, a madman. This is a mistake. Hitler was loyal to his principles. He and his lieutenants studied philosophy, mostly that of Plato, Kant and Hegal on whose principles Nazism was based.

If there was ever any doubt about the power of philosophy to create of destroy an entire nation, this book will remove it.


Tom Stelene said...

It is a great book. I've read it twice and it is the only philosophy book I can call a "page-turner!" If you want to pursue the subject further I suggest Hans Kohn's "The Mind of Germany." It is excellent also.

Mike N said...

Thanks Tom. I've put The Mind of Germany on my to get list.

Burgess Laughlin said...

My favorite passage appears on pp. 143-144 (the start of Ch. 7, hardback), from "If a man is skeptical about the role of philosophy in life . . ." to the end of the subsection (marked by three asterisks).

The passage explains the method an objective historian uses to identify the fundamental characteristics of a culture: starting with particular events and comments, and then tracing them down to their underlying cause.

Philosophy is the cause of history, and Ominous Parallels is a book of history that not only shows what happened but why it happened.

Mike N said...

I agree completely. I plan to re-read the book and I know I'll be using it for reference.

Myrhaf said...

Great book. I look forward to reading the book Dr. Peikoff is now writing on DIM. Is he also writing a book with David Harriman on physics?

Spinoza said...

I would like to see some support for the claim that these people studied Plato and Kant and somehow derived their ideas from Hegel (not Hegal.)

And Ayn Rand is an intellectual joke who appeals to those who can't see the differences between liberalism, socialism, and fascism.