A Guide for the Perplexed
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A Guide for the Perplexed

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E F Schumacher asserts that it is the task of philosophy to provide a map of life and knowledge which exhibits the most important features of life in their proper prominence. The questions: How am I to conduct my life? What is the nature of art and nature? What is the meaning of religion? are restored to daylight on Schumacher's map of life by his maxim 'if in doubt show it prominently'. Science is therefore restored to its home territory and its growing imperialism over the fields is reserved.

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Product details

  • Paperback | 192 pages
  • 129 x 198 x 13mm | 142g
  • Vintage Publishing
  • VINTAGE
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0099480212
  • 9780099480211
  • 45,514

About E. F. Schumacher

Before the publication of Small is Beautiful, his bestselling reappraisal of Western economic attitudes, Dr E. F. Schumacher was already well known as an economist, journalist and progressive entrepreneur. He was Economic Adviser to the National Coal Board from 1950 to 1970, and was also the originator of the concept of Intermediate Technology for developing countries and Founder and Chairman of the Intermediate Technology Development Group Ltd (now Practical Action). He also served as President of the Soil Association (Britains largest organic farming organisation, founded thirty years ago) and as Director of the Scott-Bader Company (pathfinders in polymer chemistry and common ownership). Born in Germany, he first came to England in 1930 as a Rhodes Scholar to study economics at New College, Oxford. Later, at the age of twenty-two, he taught economics at Columbia University, New York. As he found theorising without practical experience unsatisfying, he then went into business, farming and journalism. He resumed the academic life for a period at Oxford during the war, afterwards serving as Economic Adviser to the British Control Commission in Germany from 1946 to 1950. In later years, his advice on problems of rural development was sought by many overseas governments. Dr Schumacher was awarded the CBE in 1974. He died in 1977.

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Review Text

Under Maimonides' title, Schumacher expands on the patchwork religious-philosophical elements in his earlier Small Is Beautiful. Drawing on Scholasticism, Eastern religions, and yoga, he enumerates four "Levels of Being" - mineral, vegetable, animal, and human - and four "Fields of Knowledge" relating to the internal and external aspects of the self and others. Contending that modern philosophy and science, or, collectively, "Scientism," deal only with the lowest Level of Being, the mineral, and with external appearances, Schumacher argues that meaningful knowledge (Wisdom) can only be attained through self-awareness, which transcends consciousness (the attribute of the highest, human Level of Being). Schumacher views human life as consisting of problems which are not amenable to the simple technical solutions of scientism, and which can only be dealt with by Wisdom (ecology is an example) - hence the title. Like all works that attempt to describe mystical experiences or knowledge, this book lacks the concrete theoretical elaboration that allows for the transfer of that knowledge - we have to take Schumacher's word for it because he cannot describe "it." The argument for Faith ultimately rests on Faith itself. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Review quote

"A condensation of a vast and refreshingly unorthodox system of ideas" -- Arthur Koestler Observer "Schumacher's arguments are invigorating, provoking, and often dramatic" New Statesman "The most exciting philosophical book for ages" Daily Mail "There is a rich store of wisdom and understanding, embedded in the religions of East and West, which our dangerous preoccupation with science has scanted and ignored... This book is about the different ways in which people may see and the blindness of only seeing in one particular way." Sunday Telegraph

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