The pandemic is worse than ever and me and my girlfriend have, since mid-late October, been spending less and less time in other places than our apartment. That have meant more time for reading and I have bought many books that I’m excited to read during winter. Below I’m going to describe the books I’m currently reading and my initial thoughts about them.
Editing Humanity, by Kevin Davies. A book about the CRISPR-technology for gene editing, a technology that has the potential to erase many hereditary diseases as well as creating a new human species. This book is especially timely now, since Doudna and Charpentier, two pioneers in CRISPR-research, just got awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry for their research. The book is awe-inspiring thus far, I cannot stop thinking about how insanely intricate and complicated biological life is. And how fascinating it is that we are intelligent enough to know these things. With the further development of these tools, we can alter our own nature which is just insane to me. We can have the possibility to create babies to our own liking in the future, instead of having to play the genetic lottery. There are of course many ethic problems with techniques like these, but the sheer possibility in itself is both scary and exhilarating. (It might even be the end of Homo Sapiens)
Radical Markets, by Posner & Weyl. I have already mentioned this book in a previous post about Quadratic Voting, and it was for this purpose that I was interested in the book. But the book covers other topics as well, and I’m going to read the entire book. The main reason behind the book is the authors’ belief that we need to create new market systems and mechanisms that can help eradicate some of the deficiencies that we experience in the current capitalist system, deficiencies such as rampant inequalities and stagnant production growth rates. I like proposals like these, I think that it is evident that society is not perfect, and it may never be, and until we are certain that it cannot get better than this, we should try different solutions. Even though it seems unlikely that any established system would like changes like the ones proposed in this book I think that it is a novel cause to keep coming up with alternatives to current systems.
The Theory of Moral Sentiments, by Adam Smith. Maybe this book needs no introduction, it is a classic, although somewhat in the shadow of Wealth of Nations. Smith explores our feelings, sentiments, and the cause of them, and he does so in a beautiful way. I find myself smiling, just from the lengthy and beautifully written paragraphs on how sympathy appears in us and how sympathy expresses itself. The theories in themselves are not always up to date, and life as Smith describes it has changed quite a bit since then, but the book still has a lot of value. It gets you to think about why certain feelings and sentiments appear in you, and I have gotten both a deeper understanding as well as a deeper appreciation of sympathy, joy etc. from reading this book. I really recommend it; it is a beautiful book. A lot more enjoyable than the more cynical Wealth of Nations.
Those are all for now, though I have more books coming by mail soon. I won’t run out of things to read, that’s for sure!