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The Book of Atheist Spirituality by [Comte-Sponville, Andre]
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The Book of Atheist Spirituality Kindle Edition

3.9 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Length: 228 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

"Comte-Sponville presents big ideas with masterful and witty clarity. For those who prefer Kant to cant, this refreshing little book is perfect." (Publisher's Weekly (starred review))

Book Description

A brilliant, elegant argument for spirituality without God.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 464 KB
  • Print Length: 228 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 059306139X
  • Publisher: Transworld Digital (6 July 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003U9W3IK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #339,693 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
It is a great shame that the one and only review of this book is so negative. I found it intelligible, intelligent and illuminating so wanted to balance things up a little. I am sure that it would be enjoyed even by those who haven't studied philosophy because the concepts the author discusses are well explained and elucidated. He has a far gentler approach than your Hitchens or Dawkins, whilst still managing to get his point across. And whilst there can be no doubt in the author's own committed atheism, he can nevertheless appreciate that there are positives in believing religion and even goes as far as to say that he might wish he believed in a God. If you want to read longer, more erudite and even more positive reviews look the book up on Amazon.com.
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Format: Hardcover
The first two chapters are a fairly swift canter through the arguments against the existence of God, and for the idea that we do not need a God to find meaning in existence. Dawkins covered most of this territory with great verve in 'the God Delusion', but it is good to see another approach from this most lucid of French philosophers. The third chapter on atheist spirituality is quite remarkable, and goes beyond Dawkins. It deals in depth with matters of spirituality that cannot be dealt with in a scientific, empirical manner. For instance, he considers matters of emotion, like the "oceanic feeling" and our response to the immensity of the Universe. These are often taken to be religious feelings, but Comte-Sponville show how they can be better and more coherently understood, and enjoyed, from an atheist viewpoint. He brings in Western philosophers, like Spinoza and Nietzsche, and Eastern philosophers, like Nagarjuna and Lao-Tzu, to bolster his arguments for an atheist approach to spiritual concepts and feelings like simplicity, unity, silence, eternity, serenity, acceptance, and eternity. He certainly left me feeling more serene, and with a more unified idea of what spirituality might mean for an atheist. His argument that religious spirituality involves a temporality that is not needed in an atheist spirituality is particularly strong, and there are many other arguments that reveal the depth and subtlety of his thinking. This is a must buy for anyone wondering if, or how, an atheist can be spiritual.
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By Graham Mummery TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 8 Jan. 2010
Format: Paperback
This book deserves to be read by non-believers and believers alike for it's intelligent analysis of the subject, and its elegance. Though arguing as an athiest, Andre Comte-Sponville is not hostile to religion, indeed has a lot of respect for it and for believers. His take is, essentailly, that unbelief is as important as belief and his arguments centre around three essays which cover a large amount of ground in just under 200 pages.

The first, "Can We Do Without Religion?" looks at where religion draws some of it's strengths from. His conclusions centre around religion as a way of life, which he states is the most important thing it offers. Yet, he also points out that these, like morality and communality are not exclusive to religion. He is also realsitic about how both religion and unreligion have been used to justify atrocities.

The second, on whether there is a God, looks at traditional arguments for the existence of a deity. These are presented clearly, without heckling. They are arguments that both believers and non-believers need to ponder on when reaching their position, as are his arguments as to why he cannot believe in a God. Most of these arguments are not new, but the account of them, could not be bettered. Believers are are unlikely to be offended by them. As Comte-Sponville states, the only agenda he has here is the right to voice his view point.

The final essay looks at the posibility of an athiest spirituality. He draws on Eastern Spiritual texts, pointing that they are less dependent on conceptions of a god. He looks at forms of spiritual experience, and describes some of his own experiences in this area and argues that this is "not God." This may well be the most personal aspect of the book.
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Format: Paperback
This is definitely not the sort of reductionist atheism that is promoted by Dawkins et al. In fact, this book is a fascinating insight into a more holistic and philosophical atheism - probably a style of thinking more commonly accepted by the majority of quiet-living atheists and agnostics. And as a Christian I'd say it's a good book because of the clarity it gives on a way of thinking which is, in some ways, alien to me. That won't stop me from critiquing it though, and I acknowledge he makes many valid criticisms of Religion.

The chapter order in itself is enlightening: 1. Can we do without religion? 2. Does God exist? 3. Can there be an atheist spirituality? (You'd think, wouldn't you, that to settle the issue of God's existence might come first?) Of course, the assumption in chapter 1 is that God does not exist, but the motivation in this writing is to repel religiosity. Yet having discarded this irritant religion, the author knows he needs something spiritual in his life. There is great pathos in this book; very touching, very human.

The first few pages of chapter one are taken up with defining 'religion', before deciding that it is the imposed dogma and implied obscurantism of received religion that the author really dislikes. So, he concludes that he wants fidelity without faith; he yearns for true community and understands how religion binds people together, but obviously cannot accept the superstition and blind faith associated with much religion. In fact, from the outset he is very ambiguous about the eastern religions (Buddhism, Taoism, Confucionism) but really has monotheism in mind - especially his own childhood catholicism. But how does he construct meaning and purpose once God has been discarded? How does he substantiate his need for fidelity and community?
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