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The Monk and the Philosopher: A Father and Son Discuss the Meaning of Life [Paperback]

Jean Francois Revel
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Nov 2005
Jean Francois-Revel, a pillar of French intellectual life in our time, became world famous for his challenges to both Communism and Christianity. Twenty-seven years ago, his son, Matthieu Ricard, gave up a promising career as a scientist to study Tibetan Buddhism -- not as a detached observer but by immersing himself in its practice under the guidance of its greatest living masters.

Meeting in an inn overlooking Katmandu, these two profoundly thoughtful men explored the questions that have occupied humankind throughout its history. Does life have meaning? What is consciousness? Is man free? What is the value of scientific and material progress? Why is there suffering, war, and hatred? Their conversation is not merely abstract: they ask each other questions about ethics, rights, and responsibilities, about knowledge and belief, and they discuss frankly the differences in the way each has tried to make sense of his life.

Utterly absorbing, inspiring, and accessible, this remarkable dialogue engages East with West, ideas with life, and science with the humanities, providing wisdom on how to enrich the way we live our lives.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Schocken Books Inc; Reprint edition (1 Nov 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805211039
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805211030
  • Product Dimensions: 20.2 x 13.7 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 120,141 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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JEAN-FRANCOIS-I think the first thing we should emphasize is that the idea of this book was neither yours nor mine. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
75 of 79 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Western scientists and philosophically minded intellectuals often have contempt for religion, and some think it is a justified contempt that religious leaders have brought upon themselves by not living up to their principles - and by being ignorant of science, insisting upon theological premises and conclusions that no"philosopher" could accept.
So a culture at cross-purposes has been built up in the West. At times it has led to spiritual heartsickness and anxiety, the abandonment of hope that life has meaning. What people are left with on the whole is nihilism, the view that nothing exists except phenomena apparent to the senses, and that consciousness is an accidental product of matter, that one's mind does not survive death. Given the barren desert in which the spirit has to dwell, it seems courageous rather than merely materialistic that people just get on with trying to improve their standard of living, and it adds poignancy to the fascination with money and sex and celebrity, the recourse to entertainments and the love of sports.
This book, The Monk and the Philosopher, provides an antidote to the conflict between Western science and philosophy and traditional religion. It illustrates the highest possible vantage point from which to see meaning directly and simply, that is, a principial metaphysical tradition of wisdom, in this case, Buddhism.
The Monk and the Philosopher is a dialogue between a father who is an authority on Western philosophy (one of his books is entitled, From Thales to Kant) and a son who in his twenties took a doctorate in molecular biology at the Institut Pasteur and later became a monk in the Tibetan Buddhist Tradition.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An exceptional Buddhist-Humanist dialogue 8 April 1999
By A Customer
Utterly absorbing, inspiring, and arcane, this remarkable dialogue engages East with West, ideas with life, and science with the humanities, providing' wisdom on how to enrich the way we live our lives. The undercurrents andsubtle tensions makes this one of the most thoughtful and humane exchanges on the East versus West front. Recommended as a possible classic and milestone in the Buddhist conversion of Western science and philosophy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Gift 11 Jan 2014
By Rosy
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book was a gift, but was liked very much by the receiver! I will be reading it very soon!
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