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Janus: A summing up Hardcover – 1978

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 354 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st American ed edition (1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394500520
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394500522
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.9 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,199,059 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born in Budapest in 1905, educated in Vienna, Arthur Koestler immersed himself in the major ideological and social conflicts of his time. A communist during the 1930s, and visitor for a time in the Soviet Union, he became disillusioned with the Party and left it in 1938. Later that year in Spain, he was captured by the Fascist forces under Franco, and sentenced to death. Released through the last-minute intervention of the British government, he went to France where, the following year, he again was arrested for his political views. Released in 1940, he went to England, where he made his home. His novels, reportage, autobiographical works, and political and cultural writings established him as an important commentator on the dilemmas of the 20th century. He died in 1983.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAME on September 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
Koestler is a true original, and a thinker who makes a real effort to integrate many different worlds of experience. In this work he is obsessed with the turning point event which is the use of nuclear weapons. As he understands it Mankind lived throughout its history with threats to individual life, but nuclear weapons have brought a new kind of collective threat, a threat that Mankind will completely destroy itself.

Koestler's concern here connects with his perception of Mankind as a kind of defective product of Evolution. He especially focuses on the conflict between our reptilian brain , our lower mammal brain and the brain of reason our neocortex. He too sees the human propensity for violent conflict as something which relates to our being controlled by the emotional lower brain. But he too singles out our propensity for 'loyalty' for collective bonding as source of violence. And his claim is that the kind of individual criminal act people often focus on when talking about the defects of Mankind, is secondary to the evils we do out of loyalty to the Collective.

Koestler in analyzing the human situation also makes an effort to supply an overall theory of the organization of reality. He speaks of a heirarchal principle in which things are organized in all realms in two directions. The Janus- like character of reality is that each thing is organized as independent and autonomous on one level, and as a part of a higher whole on another. This dual aspect character in which the ' wholes' or as he calls them 'holons ' are greater than the parts he seems as integrating all realms of experience.

Koestler writes a chapter on Humor and on the Act of Creation.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 29, 1998
Format: Paperback
Demonstrating with pissimism, "vision" and deep paranoia about the fatal schiz-phrenic human behaviour. For Koestler, the new Calendar has started since August 6,1945 with the Hiroshima bomb. Atomic bombs cannot be "uninvented", therefore they will be evantually used by man to destroy life on earth, unless we find a new injection or prescribtion to enhance the schiz contradictory social behaviour of the human race. Language is the source of human "unity", nobelity, and yet is the main source of dividing and isolating man.Since alwyas, the human history has been a continuous series of words and wars, and it will not get any better with the atomic and mass distruction weapons. It is all laid in the schizic human brain. For Koestler,it seems that through human evolution, a biological explosion has occured in the human brain,creating the new cortex, the new brain, that has the language, religion centers, etc, on top of the archaic brain, where greed, jealousy,lust are centered.A very informative book that is worth reading. It shows a great deal of unbelievably simple visionary observations.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dennis B. Mulcare on October 24, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In younger adulthood, Arthur Koestler was intrepid yet corrigible in his diverse personal ventures in political activism. Moreover, his subsequent intellectual pursuits seemed likewise to be extraordinary, resolute, and uninhibited. Although hardly academic in conventionality or comportment, Koestler interacted with major intellectual figures on a peer-to-peer basis, and it would seem that he contributed to such dialogues at least as much as he gained.

In this his supposedly last book, Koestler revisited and integrated major aspects of several of his previous books. This was invaluable for me, given my somewhat limited interest in some of their focal topics. As it happened, however, I found the subject book to be exceptionally illuminating, intriguing, and worthwhile. Most notably, I was surprised and impressed by the extent and coherence of Koestler’s integration of key concepts over various chapters with a diverse range of topics. Moreover, I was impressed with his interdisciplinary and frequently original perspectives, all being well grounded in a ready conversance with pertinent scholarly literature and contentious research issues.

Primarily, my motivation for reading this book was interest in his concepts of holarchy and holons, terms which I had encountered often without actually appreciating their meanings and significance. Not only was that curiosity amply satisfied, but I attained a very high regard for their appreciable utility and expressiveness. Basically, the frequently used term “hierarchy” seems to be misused more often than not, and hence there has been a need for distinguishing its varied and rather casual usages. Holarchy substantially contributes to redressing that need, as does the similar concept of heterarchy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Paradox pollack on December 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The greatest non fiction book I know.
Comprehensive and deeply visionary.
I am writing this review from my phone so I will be economical.
If you are reading this and you have not read the book.
Get it!
Read it!
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