9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
A fantastic book on philosophy/religion, and a mind opener, 15 Feb 2007
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. Rather than considering it as being an introdction to philosophy I would regard it as being an introduction to both western and eastern religious thought. It is a mind opening and challenging book, especially to those who have grown up believing in that materialism, capitalism and utilitarianism are the only viable ways of life.