Review: “The Why Of Things” By Peter V. Rabins

Columbia University Press was nice enough to provide, through NetGalley, a copy of this eGalley for me to read and review. Although it was provided at no cost, I am under no obligation to give a positive review.

First, a note that this book is not the answer to any burning “Why?” questions. Rather the author gives you tools you can use to increase your critical thinking processes when determining causality in your life. And in that he does a marvelous job.

There are several points the author returns to time and again, using them as a basis for each section before delving in with more depth:

Causal Models: Categorical, Probabilistic and Emergent

Levels: Predisposing, Precipitating, Programmatic and Purposive

Logics: Empirical, Empathic and Ecclesiastic

I won’t go into detailed descriptions of each because, well, that’s what the book is for. 🙂

The primary point to get from the book, besides developing the critical thinking skills I mentioned earlier, is there is rarely a single path of causality in any event. Even if it’s very clear a single person is responsible for a particular act, there are threads of causality that lead to the wherefore and why of the action.

Rabins doesn’t just stick with current events and other hard fact analyses in his book. He also tackles philosophical and even religious topics, showing how the guidelines I noted above can be applied to your analysis. Again, he doesn’t specifically answer questions in detail, but rather gives you different ways to look at and think about things.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I have long believed that no event happens in a vacuum and all people are inter-dependent, so I already had the necessary mental framework around which to develop my thinking processes even further. Without a doubt, I will probably need to re-read it a couple times and make notes before I fully grasp all the concepts, but it will definitely be time well-spent.

Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)


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