Hopefully, the reader of these pages will find the work of a life of writing. Hopefully, the reader of these pages will find the work of a life of writing.
This site has been revised twice. First with the publication of Surfaces, A History University and California Press (May 1, 2013) (http://www.ucpress.edu/book.php?isbn=9780520272774). And now in the Spring of 2015 it is revised with the publication of The Book of Twos: The Power of Contrasts, Polarities and Contradictions (Ellis Press, ellispress.com).
In Surfaces I trace the human relationship with surfaces from the deep history of human evolution, which unfolded across millennia up to the contemporary world. This deeply informed and original narrative, which joins history and anthropology and suggests new routes for epistemology and aesthetics, argues that surfaces are far more than superficial facades of inner worlds.
In The Books of Twos I continue my reflections on how we take the world apart and put it together. I do this with an exploration how twos in the form of contrasts, comparisons, polarities, dualities and contradictions are fundamental to science and biology and the formation of individual, collective, and national identities. Ranging across anthropology, history, religion, art, philosophy, war, politics, and language, I devote significant attention to the role of oppositions, polarities, and contradictions in the thought of Montaigne, William James and Isaiah Berlin. I also examine here such other elemental thinkers as Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Descartes, Dostoevsky, and Freud.
The Books of Twos
By Joseph A. Amato
In The Book of Twos Joseph Amato explores how the concept of twos—contrasts, comparisons, polarities, dualities, and contradictions—has been fundamental to human thought from infant development to national identities, from poetic metaphors to scientific discoveries, from historical movements to religious faith, and from the divided self to philosophical systems. In his telling twos become who we are.
Book of Twos Reviews
Defying neat classification, The Book of Twos is far from the standard monographic fare of today’s academy. It is a meditation on and celebration of the heterogeneity of things—a unique and provocative combination of keen observation, rich historical and philosophical insight, religious-based wisdom, and poetry. It is the product of one of the most creative thinkers I know.
The Book of Twos combines an unusual breadth of subject matter with genuine originality—the weaving of disparate worlds into a coherent narrative, a narrative that is fertile terrain for our re-imagining as readers. You do that for me in all your books including notably in Dust: A History of the Small and Invisible. Yet “The Book of Twos” is much more a literary and philosophical exploration of cognition itself, of the basis of self-knowing through an expansive mental expedition of seeing, touching, feeling, reflecting, considering, interrogating, contrasting, expressing, etc. To be successful, such an expedition in humane letters requires the singular well-stocked and unfettered mind, a certain restlessness of inquiry, and a limpid expressiveness. Not many people, I suspect, could accomplish what you set out to do here and succeeded in doing.
This book is in line with his previous successful books Dust, A History of the Small and Invisible, On Foot: A History of Walking, and Surfaces, a History. Like those books, The Book of Twos is extremely original and based on a rare and extraordinary understanding of a variety of subjects, including the historical, linguistic, material, philosophical, spiritual, metaphorical, and psychological.
Amato is an unparalleled master of bringing together the concrete and the abstract. Much of our thinking is done in opposing—and sometime uniting—dualities, and no one has investigated this important phenomenon as well Amato does here. His abstractions arise from the deep soil in which our thoughts and attitudes are rooted.
This book will be a classic for people who like to understand the world they think in.
Surfaces: A History
By Joseph A. Amato
A historical, philosophical, and anthropological meditation on humans as self-reflecting, self-defining, and self-making creatures.
With this wonderful history of the world as a collage of surfaces, Joe Amato sets the record straight. Surfaces define our relationship to the world -- they have their own poetry, aesthetics, science, glamour, and wonder.
Highly original, deeply sensitive, and amazingly informed, Surfaces is one of the great books of the twenty-first century. It is eloquent and beautiful, based on solid thought and spelled out with imagination, emotion, refined speculation, and a rich yet simple language.
Surfaces is utterly unique and almost defies categorization. Amato romps over vast landscapes of intellectual and artistic terrain, demonstrating intellectual breadth, insight, and creativity. This is an exciting book—bold, provocative, poetic—that invites contemplation and opens the reader’s mind to the depth and complexity of the human experience.
Joseph Amato displays superior scholarly range and imagination in this lively, flowing, and often inventive study of humans' relationship with their world. Surfaces offers us many intriguing and frequently surprising insights about a subject that we have never thought of in quite this way before. This is an enormously ambitious and thoughtprovoking book.
Topics of his talks cover a wide range of subjects drawn from his research and teaching on place, rural life, and southwest Minnesota, as well as, his books on philosophy and history.
His subjects include death, suffering, victims and values, and family, local, and everyday history.