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on 12 July 2015
Great book
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on 12 February 1998
Tillich is one of the most creative and influential theologians and philosophers of the twentieth century. He is particuluarly influential here in America. When this book was first issue it was recognized as one of the great books of popular philosophy/theology yet written. In it, Tillich takes the reader through the different ways a person can be (essentially different ways of living). The reader will find this book not only useful in terms of their own self evaluation and helping others, but they will find it a book that, when properly understood, changes peoples lives. A word to the wise: Many people have complained that this book is a little difficult to read at first. This is because Tillich uses terminology which he has invented. He is not always good about telling the reader know what he means. However, after you read more and more of the book you get a good grasp of what he means. Stick with it. You wont be sorry.
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on 11 January 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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on 4 August 2011
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. He dare's to write bravely and courageously about subjects we would prefer not to include in our thinking. It is thought provoking and will make you stop and think and consider what you want to stand for in your life.
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on 18 January 2017
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on 16 September 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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on 3 November 2000
...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.
This leads me to the thesis of my review. Tillich was not a theologian or as some would no doubt suggest, a philosopher. I cannot put my finger on exactly what he was. The most honest and least vitriolic (though this book simply begs for vitriol) description I can provide of this book is that it is vague. Tillich seems to want to make some universalist and yet subjective statement about courage and anxiety, but he never pulls the trigger on it. He dances round and round the subject, leaving the reader both tired and queasy.
This leads me back to the question of Tillich. Is this book the work of Tillich the theologian, Tillich the existentialist philosopher, or an undefined, wholly other Tillich? I don't know. However I do believe I know who Tillich was writing for; and I believe this is the key to our question about Tillich, meaningful as part of understanding the book, and of the utmost importance to you as you consider whether or not to buy and read this book. It is my sincere belief that this book was written for that all too common half-breed that is found in our universities: the Liberal Academic (those who are too lacking in honesty to be true scholars and yet still fearful enough to admit their own atheism).
Tillich is still widely read by captive audiences under the tutelage of these academics. This ensures why this book is still read and discussed. This notwithstanding I urge you to take my honest and heartfelt advice: don't read this book unless one of them forces you to.
17 people found this helpful
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