Review of book from KIRKUS REVIEWS:
February 21, 2012
"An encyclopedia-dictionary hybrid that teaches readers about the world and their own existence. Smolin takes the reader on a vast journey as he goes through the annals of knowledge. He starts with a logical breakdown of the meta-aspects of existence—form, process and idea, or 'tools,' as he puts it—for understanding the varying aspects of existence. Smolin then moves through lists and examples of these forms and processes. Using this as his extended introduction, he then turns his attention toward many large-scale questions, such as free will, mysticism and the origin of the universe.
"He systematically goes through the tangible world—from quarks to galaxies—before turning to humans and their biological and psychological makeup. But Smolin doesn’t stop there. After discussing the soul and religion, he turns to a potpourri of topics that include everything from war to orgasms. For all the immensity of topics covered, the writing is fairly easygoing. And he doesn't present fluff either, making it quite accessible for a book dealing so heavily in scientific concepts.
"With each topic given a separate chapter and most chapters stretching no more than a page or two, Smolin’s approach is to provide the reader with basic facts and ideas. It would be very easy, due to the nature of many of the topics, for the author to give skewed, opinionated views, but more often than not he succeeds in steering clear of giving his personal opinion, presenting instead a wide collection of possibilities. Although the book might struggle to find its appropriate targeted audience, the reader should find it helpful for not only presenting and outlining thoughts on various topics, but seeing where they fit into the larger structure of knowledge."
Book review from San Francisco Book Review
Rating 4.5 out of 5
"Adequate Wisdom: Essays on the Nature of Existence is an exhaustive collection of philosophical viewpoints presented for a layman. Smolin presents the general reader with an overview of essays that discuss existence, our cosmos, and the many different viewpoints held by people. The simplistic wording by Smolin makes these essays easy to comprehend and gives the general reader a framework to build a better understanding of the nature of existence.
"The essays are short but concise. Covering a wide range of diverse subject matter, the essays can be read alone or as a whole. There is a great deal of information covered by Smolin, and he does an exceptional job organizing, arranging, and presenting the vast research that is clearly evident as you read through this book. Smolin goes into great depth exploring the nature of forms and processes, which provides the background necessary to discuss the myriad of subject matter contained in this book. The book is comprised of eight parts: Essentials, Questions and Ideas, Physical Existence, Biological & Human Existence, Trends & Other Matters, God & Religion, Humanity and Final Thoughts. 'We can begin to piece together the varied components of existence, creating a clearer understanding of how the world works and then proposing guidelines to help us make wise decisions and lead meaningful lives.'
"Smolin additionally includes some ideas based upon new research, for which further scrutiny and examination is warranted. 'The obvious motif of this work is to embrace all components of the world and to suggest that everything is contingent upon everything else, while paradoxically allowing forms and processes to express themselves individually.' Most of the discussions cover scientific information and philosophical ideas, whereas, some of the discussions get a little more personal speaking about sexuality, self-control, religion, and state. While I may not agree with all of the contentions of the author, Smolin presents his work in a well-organized and classy form that leaves the reader open to explore his ideas.
"Smolin’s essays cover diverse fields of life, philosophy, cosmology, sociology and psychology. 'A key idea of adequate wisdom is the apparent duality between synergy and individualism, whereby virtually every form has its own function and structure while at the same time becoming part of another, greater structure.' It is well written and easy to understand. A worthwhile read for those have interest in this subject matter." (February 24, 2012)