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Cited midway through this magisterial book by Hecht (The End of the Soul), the Zen maxim "Great Doubt: great awakening. Little Doubt: little awakening. No Doubt: no awakening" reveals that skepticism is the sine qua non of reflection, and discloses the centrality that doubt and disbelief have played in fueling intellectual discovery. Most scholarship focuses on the belief systems that have defined religious history while leaving doubters burnt along the wayside. Hecht's poetical prose beautifully dramatizes the struggle between belief and denial, in terms of historical currents and individual wrestlings with the angel. Doubt is revealed to be the subtle stirring that has precipitated many of the more widely remembered innovations in politics, religion and science, such as medieval Jewish philosopher Gersonides's doubt of Ptolemaic cosmology 200-300 years before Copernicus, Kepler or Galileo. The breadth of this work is stunning in its coverage of nearly all extant written history. Hecht's exegesis traces doubt's meandering path from the fragments of pre-Socratics and early religious heretics in Asia, carefully elucidating the evolution of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism, through the intermingling of Eastern and Western religious and philosophical thought in the Middle Ages that is often left out of popular histories, to the preeminence of doubt in thrusting open the doors of modernity with the Cartesian "I am a thing... that doubts," ergo sum. Writing with acute sensitivity, Hecht draws the reader toward personal reflection on some of the most timeless questions ever posed.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
*Starred Review* Let others admire cathedrals: poet and historian Hecht celebrates the creations of doubters. In this remarkably wide ranging history, Hecht recounts how doubters from Socrates to Wittgenstein have translated their misgivings about regnant orthodoxies into new philosophic insights and political horizons. Though she explores the skepticism of early Greek thinkers challenging pagan gods, the tantric doubts of Tibetan monks chanting their way to enlightenment, and the poetic unbelief of heretical Muslim poets, Hecht gives center stage to Christianity, the religion that made doubt newly visible--and subversive--by identifying faith (not law, morality, or ritual) as the very key to salvation. Readers witness the martyrdom of iconoclastic doubters such as Bruno, Dolet, and Vanini, but Hecht also illuminates the wrenching episodes of doubt in the lives of passionate believers, including Paul and Augustine. In Jesus' anguished utterances in Gethsemane and at Calvary, Hecht hears even Christ experiencing the agony of doubt. Indeed, Hecht's affinity for the doubters who have advanced secular democracy and modern art does not blind her to the hidden kinship between profound doubters and seminal believers: both have confronted the perplexing gap between human aspirations and their tragic contradictions. In her provocative conclusion, Hecht ponders the novelty of a global confrontation pitting America not against the state-sanctioned doubt of Soviet atheism but, rather, against a religious fundamentalism hostile to all doubt. Bryce Christensen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A survey to recollect, compare, contrast, sift, and summarize humanity's attempts to ask and analyze the great questions of universal meaning, including religion and theism. Read morePublished 11 days ago by George L Kennedy
If you like reading books that actually expand your knowledge and understanding, that when you finish them you don't feel like, "well there's some time I'll never get back"... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Zero
More guidance in re atheism thru the ages. Time to get real -- there simply is not a supernatural being guiding this mess.Published 1 month ago by N. Robinson
I've owned three copies of this book and they've been replaced post haste due to wear and tear. It's one of the few books I'll read over and over and love every time.Published 2 months ago by O.S.
I rate this as one of the 10 most important books I've read in my life time. I am a physician, 77 years old, and have been a voracious reader most of my life so I don't give out... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Guy Francis
The book was very insightful. Ms. Hecht structured the book in an easy to follow format. She provides a very factual account of human development from the ancients to modern man... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Dean Sprague
Very interesting, detailed and complete study of doubt. I enjoyed the later history more than the early history but it was all hood.Published 3 months ago by Jackie G Duncan
A revealing book that presents, without bias, the history of all relevant religions and beliefs through history, something that can't easily be found these days at schools or home. Read morePublished 3 months ago by PABLO TORO BALA
I know more definitively, assuredly and comfortably why I am an atheist after having read Doubt. It's too bad that more believers are not as tolerant and as respectful as... Read morePublished 4 months ago by J J