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The Courage to Be (Yale Nota Bene) [Paperback]

Paul Tillich
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Sep 2000
In this classic and deeply insightful book, one of the world's most eminent philosophers describes the dilemma of modern man and points a way to the conquest of the problem of anxiety. This edition includes a new introduction by Peter J. Gomes that reflects on the impact of this book in the years since it was written.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 230 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; 2nd Revised edition edition (1 Sep 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300084714
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300084719
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.9 x 1.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 151,646 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Few theologians have been able to capture the imagination of the modern world as Paul Tillich. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Accepting doubt 11 Jan 2012
I'm an atheist and I half-suspect that Tillich is an atheist as well! The 'courage to be' boils down to accepting that there is no ultimate, absolute, given meaning to life. If you don't accept this then you will go on existing in a fog of doubt and uncertainty, resulting in extreme anxiety. But if you accept the uncertain nature of life whole-heartedly then existential anxiety disappears.

This acceptance Tillich seems to equate with accepting God. But an atheist can just see it as accepting life in all its uncertainty! Of course this acceptance could be just another acceptance of a false doctrine - Tillich, indeed, recognises this. So there is slight leap of faith involved in accepting life in this way. But it's pretty minimal, and something an atheist can easily do - although he might worry about having accepted Tillich's God.

I give the work five stars because it explores this acceptance of doubt so well. It actually left me feeling less anxious about me being a doubting, cynical atheist. So it actually strengthened me in my atheism. I'm not sure if Tillich would have liked that result or not!

The book itself is very readable, for a work of existential philosophy. Much easier than Heidegger, and hardy more difficult than reading, say, the pop-philosophy works of Bryan Magee. In fact, it gives some excellent thumb nail sketches of the ideas of leading existentialists like Heidegger, Nietzsche, and Sartre on the issue of the 'anxiety of living'. This includes excellent reviews of some of the leading works of these writers. It inspired me to go seek out some of Sartre's novels, and maybe a few other works.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I first read this book in high school, then in seminary, in graduate psychology classes, and several times since then. Each time I read it I gain insight and growth. Tillich will challenge your intellect and force you to think. He defines courage in a way that will change you if you take it to heart. This is a book that you will need to read several times to apperciate it's depth, but it is well worth it. I often feel I obtain a higher leval of consciousness and often I feel in an altered state after reading and pondering Tillich's writting. Tillich outlines fundemental concepts for existentialist and modern theology. Starting with Tillich's books of sermon is a good work up to this book.
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Faith in Being 16 Sep 2003
I first read this because it was recommended reading on a counselling training course, but I found that it opened out to the broadest context of facing up to human destiny.
This works seems to become more relevant to modernity with each reading. The inclusion of (anxiety over) non-being as an existential encounter is a much-needed wake up call in our times of convenience and accesibility. Tillich's historical exposition of existential guilt is one of the best I have yet come across, and his insight into the meaninglessness of contemporary life is revealing. Im not sure that many theologians could have written such a "godless" work, but then Tillich uncovers that Absence is a modality of Presence which the courage to affirm Being can endure. If we accept that those elements of our nature which we find unacceptible are accepted by a perfect compassion which is beyond human reach or reasoning, then we actually transcend the theist/atheist question of "is there a God?" by embracing some kind of epistemic impasse.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
By calmly
It seemed at the beginning that it would be too abstract. Too involved in a history of philosophy in its discussion of the Stoics. That Tillich was asserting too much, as if "ex cathedra". But even in the early chapters, I sensed something special and by the time I reached Chapter 4 ("Courage and Participation: The Courage to Be as a Part"), I began to feel the my current situation was being directly and wisely addressed. That feeling only grew stronger from that point on.

There's so much value in this book that I feel somehow unworthy of reviewing it. It doesn't seem that any amount of time I spent preparing a review could do justice to "The Courage to Be". I had heard so much of Tillich but this is the first time I have read him. I have missed a lot and I am grateful I finally turned to him. I had been concerned about religious myths and whether Christianity retained any value for me. Gnostic Christian myths seems fascinating and they made me wonder if Christianity might offer more to me than I had suspected. That concern with myths and Christianity led me to read several books by the progressive Christian Bishop John Shelby Spong (e.g. Jesus for the Non-Religious)). Spong mentioned in at least one of his books that he had been a student of Tillich's. Tillich had challenged Spong with the concept of nontheism, a position that Spong has moved to. That has been my own understanding since my teens but I had turned to nontheistic Eastern religions and to unorthodox, nondogmatic Western religions. Only recently had I been open to reconsidering liberal Christianity. To some extent I had already done that with such postmodern thinkers as Thomas Altizer (The Gospel of Christian Atheism and Living the Death of God: A Theological Memoir) and recently Spong.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Human nature, world view and God
Forget fundamentalist dogma and find from a master why Christianity is really important for all thinking people regardless of your philosophical starting point.
Published 6 months ago by Paul CW Beatty
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my all time must-have books
This is the most inspiring book. Having a Kindle version just makes it easier for me to read and re-read it.
Published 13 months ago by C. A. S. Blackfeather
3.0 out of 5 stars TEXT BOOK BUY
I bought this as it was on my reading list, it is very good though, a great help for what i needed
Published 18 months ago by susan greig
4.0 out of 5 stars Fine & Dandy
As described at a good price and just fine and dandy and its silly you are forced to use more words!
Published 19 months ago by Gary C
5.0 out of 5 stars The courage to be
ISBN979-0-300-08471-9 This book was written in the 50's but the subject matter is more pertinent today that ever before. It is a classic written by a man who had vision. Read more
Published on 4 Aug 2011 by Lorna
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it
Even if you are a sceptic, or an atheist, this book is marvelous. Tillich combines the best of stoicism and christianity.
Published on 2 May 2011 by Tell
1.0 out of 5 stars What kind of book is this being?
...I know of no sane person who has read his systematic all the way through without having been compelled by someone higher up in the power structure of academia. Read more
Published on 3 Nov 2000 by
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Deep Book
This is the best book I've ever read pertaining to the existential viewpoint. A viewpoint which I regard as very relevant. Read more
Published on 9 Dec 1998
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic!
Tillich is one of the most creative and influential theologians and philosophers of the twentieth century. He is particuluarly influential here in America. Read more
Published on 12 Feb 1998
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