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The Courage to Be Paperback – July 11, 2000

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

In this classic and deeply insightful book, one of the world's most eminent philosophers describes the dilemma of modern man and points a way to the conquest of the problem of anxiety. This edition includes a new introduction by Peter J. Gomes that reflects on the impact of this book in the years since it was written.

About the Author

Paul Tillich (1886–1965) was a world-renowned philosopher and theologian.

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Product Details

  • Series: The Terry Lectures Series
  • Paperback: 238 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; 2 Sub edition (July 11, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300084714
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300084719
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #249,955 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

181 of 189 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth E. Wagner Jr. on November 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book has more good ideas in it than clam chowder has calories. It's packed into every page, every line. Tillich is concerned with how the question of finding the courage to face up to existential doubts about death, meaninglessness, and guilt are tied to the ontological questions of being versus nonbeing. How can we affirm our existence when it seems so temporary, meaningless and full of moral failure? Tillich explores with incredible freshness and insight age old strategies, from Spinoza to the Stoics (his discussion of the Stoics alone is worth the price of the book). He gives a brilliant account of how people find the courage to overcome existential anxiety through particpation in groups and through individual strategies like existentialism. Finally, he explores the theological implications in a way that may challenge anyone who has stereotyped Tillich as a mouthpiece for Christianity. The book is excellently written, never dumbed down but always graspable. He also litters the book with brilliant asides on subjects like the history of existential angst and its relations to social relations and a great exploration of existential art. Don't pass this one up.
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86 of 95 people found the following review helpful By Gary Sprandel on November 20, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Tillich's ultimate concern is what determines our being or non-being. The "shock of nonbeing" and the ensuing anxiety allows Tillich to categorize three types of anxiety (fate and death, emptiness, and guilt). I thought his history of anxiety, starting with the Stoics ("the only real alternative to Christianity in the Western world") was remarkable (though at times a rough read). Influenced by Heidegger and Kierkegaard("to confront his existence alone") he drives on to the inevitable search for God. For Tillich, the "Courage to Be" is partly the courage to despair, and avoid the "Neurosis is a away of avoiding non-being by avoiding being". He is also influenced by Freud and psychoanalysis (called "depth psychology" in the book), which in our day of Prozac and behavioral psychology is refreshing.
The nature of the discussions, being, nonbeing, subjectivity, objectivity make for difficult reading with double negatives (eg. "Nonbeing is no threat because finite being is, in the last analysis, nonbeing"). If one can wade through the language, there a lot of insight.
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47 of 50 people found the following review helpful By DJ Rix on September 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
"It takes tremendous courage to resist the lure of appearances. The power of being which is manifest in such courage is so great that the gods tremble in fear of it." Paul Tillich, The Courage to Be.
Paul Tillich's ideas are a response to existentialism, German philosphy, modern physics & the success of totalitarian movements in Germany, Russia & Italy. He is a bridge between the 19th Century & the growth of new theological thought in latter part of the Twentieth.
Tillich is not all that difficult to understand in The Courage to Be. However, it's unfortunate that his three wonderful collections of sermons (The Shaking of the Foundations; The New Being; The Eternal Now) are out-of-print, as these are his best introductions.
Readers coming to Tillich will have to grapple with the common metaphors of Christian faith. For Tillich, the concepts of Heaven & even an afterlife are not terribly important, as they imply a continuation of life in time that he is not able to accept scientifically or on faith. So one meets those lovely semi-metaphors of "being itself," "non-being" & "ground of being" that, for me at least, were a more clear explanation of how I experience the world than God the "Father" or Holy Ghost.
This makes Tillich a crucial step into Feminist & Language theology, although he couldn't quite make the big leap himself.
Basically, Tillich says we're stuck in an undefinable present that moves creatively into an unknown future in which nothing is a given but the fact that we are alive right now, so what do we intend to do about it? This is "being" & being, above all else, requires courage; the courage of early Christians facing the axe or the fire.
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72 of 84 people found the following review helpful By Erich E. Geary on November 24, 1998
Format: Paperback
I first read this book in high school, then in seminary, in graduate psychology classes, and several times since then. Each time I read it I gain insight and growth. Tillich will challenge your intellect and force you to think. He defines courage in a way that will change you if you take it to heart. This is a book that you will need to read several times to apperciate it's depth, but it is well worth it. I often feel I obtain a higher leval of consciousness and often I feel in an altered state after reading and pondering Tillich's writting. Tillich outlines fundemental concepts for existentialist and modern theology. Starting with Tillich's books of sermon is a good work up to this book.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 11, 1998
Format: Paperback
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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