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A Guide for the Perplexed

4.7 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Unknown Binding
  • ASIN: B001G2FU6A
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,605,060 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4.7 out of 5 stars
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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Schumacher begins by describing his difficulties travelling through Leningrad, attempting to reconcile his map with the major landmarks he could see.

His confusion was resolved only when a guide explained, that the map featured only inactive church buildings, whilst active churches were simply omitted.

This story introduces the idea of `Adaequatio'; that we can only see that which we have the means to see, an ancient and powerful idea.

For example, whilst all able bodied can hear sound, not everyone can appreciate music, some simply hearing a progression of notes. For them, music simply does not exist.

Schumacher explores what it is to be human. Building a simple 4-level scale of lifeless minerals, plants, conscious animals and self-aware humanity He describes how each level has no awareness of their being levels above.

At the heart of the book, is the Western desire to see the world as problems to be solved. Science has developed with a belief that it's role is to solve problems and its `adaequatio' has honed its skills at seeing the solvable and rendered it blind to everything else.

In Schumacher's words science is able to see problems with convergent solutions, but fails even to recognise as valid, those with divergent solutions.

As an example, consider the divergent problem of whether discipline or freedom is the best way to teach? There's no one correct answer.

Real life is the navigation of divergent problems, not the solving of convergent ones.

In a balanced world, this science bias would pose no problem, sitting alongside tools better suited to divergent problems.

The fundamental issue for the West is this loss of balance.
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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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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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