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The Next Enlightenment: Integrating East and West in a New Vision of Human Evolution Hardcover – August 7, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Anderson offers a skillful and mostly successful re-description of the "Eastern" enlightenment experience-which dissolves or at least softens the boundaries of self-in terms accessible to Western philosophy and science. Although acclimatized to the Californian atmosphere of human potential movements and alternative spiritualities and psychologies, Anderson's writing exudes a savvy and secular tone that should please readers interested in enlightenment experiences without spiritual entanglements. He shows restraint by rationing references to "cosmic consciousness" and "paradigm shifts," and he questions whether a revolution in human consciousness is really just around the corner-a retreat from the Aquarian enthusiasms of the 1960s and early 1970s, which he covered as a journalist. Today he favors a longer view, while remaining convinced that "many or most (possibly all) people have transcendent experiences in their lives that they do not understand or satisfactorily integrate." To put these experiences in perspective, Anderson surveys not only the New Age as generally defined, but its background in the European Enlightenment, evolutionary biology, cosmology, psychology and existentialism, as well as some possible convergences with cognitive science research over the past two decades. Anderson is widely read and strikes a good balance between clarity and accuracy, with the exception of some cheap shots at "organized religion," which come off like dogmatic anti-dogmatism. His (qualified) endorsement of hallucinogens as an aid to enlightenment may also raise a few eyebrows.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Walter Truett Anderson has explored many different facets of contemporary life and evolutionary change in his essays, books, poetry and journalism. His recent books include The Future of the Self, Evolution Isn't What It Used to Be, and All Connected Now: Life in the First Global Civilization. He lives near San Francisco, California.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 263 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (August 7, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312317697
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312317690
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,548,512 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Jon Fobes on August 20, 2003
Format: Hardcover
In his famous essay called "What is Enlightenment" philosopher Immanuel Kant says enlightenment is simply our ability to determine our own lives without leaning excessively upon authority, tradition or established values: in short, taking responsibility for our views as our views.
Walter Truett Anderson takes up where Kant left off with an incredible book that urges a form of personal and cultural evolution he calls, "The Next Enlightenment," which reminds us that "ordinary maturity is not the ultimate stage of human development."
"We usually are satisfied to think of maturity as growing up within a culture to fit a particular society's roles, rules and expectations," Anderson writes. But the kind of maturity encouraged in "The Next Enlightenment" is more a matter of growing up beyond culture. He cites "the Big Three" stumbling blocks to maturity as, "Cosmology, identity, and epistemology; how you think about the universe, who you think you are, and what you believe about belief."
Anderson hopes "The Next Enlightenment" will show us that culture and all the values, beliefs and ideas it promotes is a "product of fallible beings ... only one of many ways to manage human interaction, and that its canon of universal truths is only one of many ways to describe the world." His book is a recipe for diversity and a primer on how to think outside the box; it provides a helpful and engaging introduction for those new to the minefield of cross-disciplinary thought and a wonderful review for those of us who read in this area daily.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A reader on January 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Contrary to the review below, this is not a terrible book. I can see what Stacy means when she complains that Anderson selects from the scientific literature only that which supports his belief system, but just about every author writing on this subject does that as well. Anderson shows good intuition in choosing a subject -- cultural evolution -- that in my opinion represents the most important category for nonfiction books today. And while he may not be on the cutting edge of his subject, he is in the right area. The very fact that this book is out there adds to the weight of literature in this area. So while Anderson's thinking may be fairly mediocre, it is not as bad as the review below makes it seem. There were several good insights and a lot that confirms and restates what others have written on this most interesting subject.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By montaigne on February 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I spent the better part of today reading this book, and I don't regret it. I find one of the other reader responses misleading because originality of ideas is not necessarily the most relevant criterium by which this book should be judged.
Look, the strength of this book is that it is easy to read because it is direct and unpretentious and addresses the concerns and needs of those of us who have been struggling with expanding our consciousness.
Whether Anderson has new information for us depends on how much we know and what the the nature of our personal experience is. Sometimes a book speaks to us precisely because we are familiar with the subject matter and we benefit from a different take which we experience as fresh, insightful - and, yes, reassuring when we are on a difficult personal journey. In that respect reading The New Englightenment has been a valuable experience for me. Wilber's books play a different role in my life.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robert Bambrick on January 19, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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9 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Stacy Yates on December 15, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I saw this book in a list of new titles in a friend's e-mail and thought the title was interesting, so I bought it. I have read widely in this area and was looking forward to some new thinking about the subject. However, this self-proclaimed "hot tub journalist" is merely evangelizing his own twisted brand of Buddhism and Scientism. He is naively unaware of most of the dynamic developments in his field, and his condescending "we all know better, don't we" style is full of ironic put-downs and was at times annoying but mostly just boring. He has selected from the scientific literature only that which supports his thinly-veiled belief system, and these gross distortions are obvious to anyone familiar with the subject matter. If you want to read something good on the subject, I recommend you forget this lightweight and check out some books by Ken Wilber.
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