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A Guide for the Perplexed Paperback – 26 Oct 1978

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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Sphere; New edition edition (26 Oct. 1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349131368
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349131368
  • Product Dimensions: 17.4 x 10.8 x 1.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 738,880 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Schumacher is interested in looking at art, and making sense of, the world as a wholel and in helping the reader to do the same. To this end he unfolds his own metaphysical map...with a humour and clarity I have never before encoutnered in a philosophical text." (Ecologist)

"A condensation of a vast and refreshingly unorthodox system of ideas" (Arthur Koestler Observer)

"Schumacher's arguments are invigorating, provoking, and often dramatic" (New Statesman)

"The most exciting philosophical book for ages" (Daily Mail)

"There is a rich store of wisdom and understanding, embedded in the religions of East and West, which our dangerous preoccupation with science has scanted and ignored... This book is about the different ways in which people may see and the blindness of only seeing in one particular way." (Sunday Telegraph) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

A reissue of EF Schumacher's classic work of philosophy to celebrate the centenary of his birth. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 56 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 11 Aug. 1999
Format: Paperback
I read this book about 10 years ago and I still read it again and again. The author widens our perspective on science and point to the fact that 3/4 of reality can not be investigated by conventional scientific methods. I am a scientist and I read thousands of scientific reports and also report some myself. When I read this book I instantly felt that the author was absolutely right about the limitations of conventional science. Thus, his book changed my whole perspective of science and I started to investigate the "other areas". I have never regretted that. This book is beautifully written. It is one of my 3-4 favourite books which I very often take out from the bookshelf to read in silent mornings when the family is asleep. I recommend this as a first read of my favourite books. It is particularly important reading for scientists.
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 Sept. 1998
Format: Paperback
A guide for the perplexed is a "philosophical guidemap" by the author of "Small is Beautiful". He develops some beautiful and perceptive ideas in the book, which is worth reading just for the quotes alone.
The basic thrust of the book is that throughout the history of humanity, there were considered to be "different levels of being", with increasing levels of awareness and consciousness, and that only relatively recently has the progress of science been so successful that consideration of our "inner" nature and being has been displaced.
Schumachers book is highly pertinent and relevant and every bit as useful and brilliant as his "Small is Beautiful". It is however a book about man, his purpose and meaning in life, and the role (if any) of spirit. At various times Schumacher was a Buddhist and a Christian and his quotations cover a wide spectrum of sources and views from both eastern and western philosophies.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Derek Slone on 20 Sept. 2003
Format: Paperback
First published in 1977, the Daily Mail review said "The most exciting philosophical book for ages." I can’t disagree. Schumacher considers the *big* human questions like “What should I do?” and “How can I be happy?” and argues that the methodologies of sciences are simply not up to answering such questions. He argues that we are guilty of constricting the notion of “truth” to merely that which is provable, and that we are impoverished as a result.
He insists that we *MUST* include humanities “unprovable” experiences of the universe in our personal maps of the world, and that we must look within ourselves to find the answers to the *big* questions, to find *understanding* and *insight* rather than simply knowledge.
I only wish I had read this book years ago. I now look at myself and consider myself so unbalanced... The scientist inside me is now very well developed, but there are other, greater skills that now require significant attention...
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A. Verma on 15 Feb. 2007
Format: Paperback
Schumacher was one of the most important Western thinkers of the last century.

A Guide for the Perplexed is often regarded as a good introduction for someone interested into philosophy. But please note that Schumacher does not give his reader an open ended overview of different philosophies like many other introductions. Instead he lays down exactly what HE believes to be the truth. This is an extremely refreshing approach as many other writers simply do not cut to the chase like this.

Schumacher begins by asking the fundamental question: 'what is man?' Is he: 1. a highly evolved chimp, or 2. a being created in the image of God?

He answers with the latter and proceeds with his attempt to lay bare the limits of the codes/systems that man has chosen to live by as a result of the belief that he is the former. The codes/systems that Schumacher criticies are science, materialism, economics and utilitarianism. He is not as such against any of these systems in themselves, but just believes that they have their limitations and their proper place.

He goes on to present his alternative view that man must develop his highest faculties to live a good life. This is nothing new as Aristotle for one said something like this a long time ago. But what Schumacher does is:

1. tell us a bit more about these higher faculties and how to unleash them (through what he calls 'inner work' such as meditation and yoga); and

2. present his arguments in an extremely logical and convincing way.

This is a fascinating book, which provides Schumacher's philosophical underpinnings for his more famous thoughts on economics in Small is Beautiful. It is beautifully written as it is extremely easy to read, very logical and yet very profound at the same time.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By DAVID-LEONARD WILLIS on 15 Nov. 2003
Format: Paperback
Do you wonder whether humanity has the correct view of itself? Do you think that we need a radically different worldview? Do you think we need to awaken from our spiritual sloth? Are you interested to read the last words from a brilliant mind and unorthodox thinker to a muddled world - a world perplexed by the problems of its own making? This book by the author of "Small is Beautiful" received good reviews, such as "The most exciting philosophical book for ages" and in fact the author starts off with philosophical maps. At school he had been given a map of life and knowledge - how to get into the job market and make money basically - but without any of the markings which he considered to be of the utmost importance for the conduct of his life; he was perplexed until he realized that his perceptions were probably sound and it was the map that was not only incomplete but also basically unsound. He felt like he had been given a map of New York and told to find his way in Chicago. In due course, he came to the conclusion that the traditional map makers - those in authority, our teachers, our leaders - know nothing about what really matters in life and that they were quite unqualified for the task. From that moment he started to think for himself and piece together his own map of what is important that he should know and of how he should live his life. He found that with the ever more rigorous application of the scientific method the last remnants of ancient wisdom had been discarded in the name of objectivity. He decided to construct his own map based on four universal truths - the world; man and his equipment to meet the world; man's way of learning about the world; and what it means to live in the world.Read more ›
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