Cover image for Spirituality for the skeptic : the thoughtful love of life
Spirituality for the skeptic : the thoughtful love of life
Solomon, Robert C.
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Publication Information:
Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2002.
Physical Description:
xvi, 159 pages ; 25 cm
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BL624 .S63 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Is it possible to be spiritual and yet not believe in the supernatural? Can a person be spiritual without belonging to a religious group or organization? In this book, philosopher Robert Solomon offers challenging answers to these questions as he explodes commonly held myths about what ismeans to be spiritual in today's pluralistic world. Based on Solomon's own struggles to reconcile philosophy with religion, Spirituality for the Skeptic offers a model of a vibrant, fulfilling spirituality that embraces the complexities of human existence and acknowledges the joys and tragedies of life. Solomon has forged an enlightened newpath that synthesizes spirituality with emotions, intellect, science, and common sense. His new paradigm, "naturalized" spirituality, establishes as its cornerstone the "thoughtful love of life"--a passionate concern for the here-and-now, and not the by-and-by. Being spiritual doesn't mean beingholed up as a recluse, spending hours in meditation and contemplation, Solomon argues. It demands involvement and emotional engagement with others in the struggle to find meaning in our lives. As such, this modern-day spirituality encompasses a passionate enthusiasm for the world, the transformationof self, cosmic trust and rationality, coming to terms with fate, and viewing life as a gift, all of which are explored in depth throughout this book. Spirituality for the Skeptic answers the need for a non-institutional, non-dogmatic spirituality that leads to personal fulfillment and satisfaction. By examining the ideas of great thinkers from Socrates and Nietzsche to Buddha to Kafka, Solomon arrives at a practical vision of spiritualitythat should appeal to many seekers looking to make sense of the human condition.

Author Notes

Robert C. Solomon is the Quincy Lee Centennial Professor of Business and Philosophy and Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Texas, Austin. His books include A Short History of Philosophy, A Passion for Wisdom, and The Joy of Philosophy, all published by Oxford.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Solomon (business and philosophy, Univ. of Texas, Austin; A Passion for Wisdom) has no sympathy for New Age spirituality or any family heritage of traditional religious practice. Nevertheless, he has also grown weary of academic philosophy's tendency toward "clever paradox and puzzle-solving" and "often cynical obscurantism." "Philosophy," he reminds us, "is a spiritual practice." He looks to philosophy itself, especially the work of Hegel and Nietzsche, to provide the tools to pursue a naturalized spirituality, spirituality as "the thoughtful love of life." Separate chapters address thoughtful spirituality as characterized by passion, cosmic trust, and rationality; as facing up to tragedy, fate, and death; and as fostering transformation of the self. This is a warm and wise book. While Solomon does not begin to touch the historical riches of philosophy as spiritual practice (as in the pioneering work of Pierre Hadot), he does begin the important task of reconceiving contemporary philosophy as a passionate spirituality a spirituality for those skeptical of supernaturalism and authority-based religious claims. Steve Young, McHenry Cty. Coll., Crystal Lake, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

This new book by Solomon (Univ. of Texas, Austin) develops themes from his previous work, The Joy of Philosophy (CH, Sep'00). For Solomon, thoughtfulness is inseparable from spirituality. Spirituality is not antithetical to science, limited to sectarian religion, or an expression of pop culture. Although Nietzsche and Hegel are principle sources for Solomon's claim that the thoughtful love of life is the key to spirituality, this book is not a phenomenology of spirituality but instead a collection of thoughts on passion, trust, reverence, rationality, tragedy, fate, and death, which are taboo topics in current analytical philosophy. Demonstrating a broad use of materials from Eastern and Western sources, Solomon's book is well written and knowledgeable. It lacks, however, Hegel's dialectical rigor and appears tepid in comparison to Nietzsche. It does not cover spirituality as presented in contemporary medicine by authors such as Herbert Benson. For general readers. J. H. Ware emeritus, Austin College