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!Free E-pub ♷ Doubt: A History ⚖ In The Tradition Of Grand Sweeping Histories Such As From Dawn To Decadence, The Structure Of Scientific Revolutions, And A History Of God, Hecht Champions Doubt And Questioning As One Of The Great And Noble, If Unheralded, Intellectual Traditions That Distinguish The Western Mind Especially From Socrates To Galileo And Darwin To Wittgenstein And Hawking This Is An Account Of The World S Greatest Intellectual Virtuosos, Who Are Also Humanity S Greatest Doubters And Disbelievers, From The Ancient Greek Philosophers, Jesus, And The Eastern Religions, To Modern Secular Equivalents Marx, Freud And Darwin And Their Attempts To Reconcile The Seeming Meaninglessness Of The Universe With The Human Need For Meaning,This Remarkable Book Ranges From The Early Greeks, Hebrew Figures Such As Job And Ecclesiastes, Eastern Critical Wisdom, Roman Stoicism, Jesus As A Man Of Doubt, Gnosticism And Christian Mystics, Medieval Islamic, Jewish And Christian Skeptics, Secularism, The Rise Of Science, Modern And Contemporary Critical Thinkers Such As Schopenhauer, Darwin, Marx, Freud, Nietzsche, The Existentialists
This book traces the history of religious doubters, skeptics, and atheists from the classical world through the middle ages to the modern era It seems that every age has had religion and every age has had its disbelievers The disbelievers of history form a who s who of famous minds Ancients like Lucretius and Democritus, to the middle ages with the great Arab scholars like poet and physician Omar Khayyam, to the modern era where the list explodes Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, Paine, Voltaire, Russell, Sartre, Hume to name some of the heavy hitters This book is one of my favorite histories of a venerable tradition that doubted what everyone else believed.2 11 2019 I remember first reading this in the 1990s long before the new atheist wave after 9 11 I tended towards irreligiosity long before it was a meme and will probably stay that way long after new atheism degenerated into intellectual dark web reactionary politics and implodes Hecht is a good writer and keeps the topic fun and historical A little historical perspective would be nice to add to what little remains that is legitimate in New Atheism. Here s a little confession I m a doubter I always have been And given my very conservative Mormon family and the even conservative Mormon community I live in, doubt is frowned upon More than that, it s considered a serious character flaw something to be ashamed of, purged, and overcome as quickly as possible Doubt A History provides an overview of some of the world s most prominent doubters Socrates, Thomas Jefferson, even Jesus and describes the crucial roles they played in history This book taught me that there is a rich tradition of doubt that goes back thousands of years, that doubters have made remarkable contributions to history, and that even thought I ve been programmed to be ashamed of my doubt, I m actually in some really excellent company Jennifer Michael Hecht is a competent historian and an excellent writer, and her tour of doubt is an excellent read. An absorbing history of healthy skepticism through the ages.Personally, I ve always joked that Descartes I think, therefore I am could be I doubt, therefore I may not be In reading this book, I realize I think, therefore something thinks, but it s not necessarily me Which can ironically lead one to a non dogmatic spirituality As an agnostic, I find the claimed certainties of both religion and science to be irksome As Hecht has in her book it may be a quote from someone else , the real enemy of the theist is not the atheist, but the agnostic I m willing to accept evidence based on experiment, but I m always willing to allow the evidence may change in response to a different experiment Those who are certain because they ve heard the voice of God or because they have obtained a diploma I find insufferable These are the kind of thoughts reading this book stirred up. This is a hefty, dense tome There s a lot of quality analysis, history and argument here, but the problem with a book like this is that it s a preaching to the choir sort of exercise People who are already somewhat doubtful of established cultural institutions will be nodding in agreement and amusement all the way through, and will likely already be familiar with much of the historical and philosophical background the book provides, but those who have a reverent attitude toward those institutions will not be swayed by anything here It isn t that I think the book sets out to change hearts and minds, but fails rather, I think it s a book without much of a point or mission when taken in the context of the people most likely to read it in the first place By the end I felt I d learned many interesting factoids and details about the historical figures mentioned, and had gained a little bit insight into their respective cultures, but that s about all. I have nearly reached the end and I know I will be starting again when I finish I enjoy Jennifer s writing style very much It feels to me like we re two friends walking though a museum and she s giving me the guided tour of my life She speaks to me in a conversational tone opening up my mind to the secret history of thought I m relishing in the choice bits she chooses to quote, like handpicked produce from the grower She hasn t grabbed the bag of discount apples from a supermarket like so many authors do I think I ve grown up a bit and feel the discussion of ideas and their context is much interesting than a debate on who is right I will be hunting down and devouring of her books As far as her Scale of Doubt quiz in the introduction, I must be a true agnostic I answered I don t know to all the questions but two I would recommend this book to anyone, even the devoutly religious and having formerly been of that persuasion, I do understand Of the many arguments for and against the ideas surrounding the concept of God, I felt they where all treated fairly and objectively. When one has certainty, there is no room for further knowledge or understanding Science and Reason never prove, at the most they can just show things to be less false than other things There is a long history of people who haven t been certain and their story makes for a much interesting revealing of human history than the ones who pretend to have no doubt.There are two recurring characters in this marvelous book about doubters throughout history, the Stoic, Cicero and his On the Nature of the Gods , and the Epicurean, Lucretius, and his On the Nature of Things Both get major play in this book, firstly when they are introduced and secondly they keep popping up through the rest of the story because their influence with latter sages has been immense.Survey of philosophy books with their chronological presentation can often be dull since they lack a narrative to tie the story together This book gives that necessary narrative and gives the listener a thread to understand the connections while telling a good story that includes snippets of world history, religion and summaries of what great doubters thought throughout the ages.The author gives enough of the major points and sometimes long quotations from the primary sources to make the book or person under consideration come alive and make the listener feel as if he understands the person who wrote it For example, I now realize why I enjoy the book of Ecclesiastics so much than any of the other books in the Bible it s mostly a Epicurean type polemic on the meaning of life Her considered amount of time she spends quoting Marcus Aurelius is well worth it for the listener I ve never found anyone who I tend to agree with and would strongly recommend his Meditations which is available at audible, but it might not be necessary to read it if you listen to this book instead.The other thing to like about this book she does not ignore the East at all She gives them equal weight to the West throughout the text Eastern Religions are fully explored since there is a much richer tradition of not being certain, the you doubt, the you understand would be a typical Eastern religion answer to the refutation of the certainty found in revealed religions.Overall, this book gives a great survey of doubt throughout the ages, with many synopsizes of great thinkers, and all within an overriding narrative tying all the pieces together I would recommend this book for anyone who does not like to pretend to know things that they do not know , and wants to understand the firm foundation that entails. A masterful work, both in scope and execution Jennifer Michael Hecht traces the development of doubt, both within religion and without religion, from the ancient Greeks and Indian Charvaka an ancient materialistic, non theistic response to Hinduism I d never even heard of to Paine, Jefferson and the current crop of modern skeptics and atheists Along the way, she demonstrates the importance of doubt in challenging assumptions, sparking reflection, and driving thought forward Hecht is a poet and philosopher, and crafts a beautifully written look at the progression of questioning throughout time and across geography With each prominent figure and movement, we learn which previous thinkers influenced the discussion, which ideas were challenged, and how the world was changed as a result Doubt is widely defined, and even religious figures play important roles.It s as ambitious as you d imagine, detailing figures as diverse as Democritus, Epicurus, Job, Koheleth, the Buddha, Confucius, Wang Ch ung, Cicero, Pliny the Elder, Lucretius, Marcus Aurelius, Sextus Empiricus, Jesus, Paul, Augustine, Hypatia, Ibn al Rawandi, Abu Bakr al Razi, Maimonides, Pomponazzi, Montaigne, Rabelais, Voltaire, Giordano Bruno, Descartes, Baruch Spinoza, Pierre Bayle, Thomas Hobbes, Edward Gibbon, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Harriet Martineau, Susan B Anthony, Elixabeth Cady Stanton, Emily Dickinson, Wittgenstein, Kierkegaard, Mark Twain, and Bertrand Russell.That s only a smattering of the personalities involved in this wide ranging narrative that rings in at 494 densely packed pages I ll admit I put off completing this for many years after hearing Hecht lecture on her then new book well over a decade ago I was delighted to see it available as an unabridged audio book over 24 hours in length , which was a great format I plan to return to this book often as a reference. What is it they say History is written by the winners That is unless you re Howard Zinn People s History of the United States or Jennifer Michael Hecht, writing Doubt A History No, I m not calling these two losers, but they definitely adopted Quixotic missions in championing the unspoken viewpoint of the other side of history.And both turned out encyclopedic tomes on their respective topics But as much as I enjoyed Zinn s take on American History recommended, by the way, by Matt Damon s off hand line in Good Will Hunting How do you like THEM apples , Hecht is superior in my view in delivering the meaningful and important record of a branch of thought that is not only often ignored, but ostracized, pilloried, martyred and pogrommed The tale of humanity s ability to question is what is at stake here This is the tale of all those through history who have said, Now, wait a second Could it be that your interpretation is incorrect It is the tale of all those inchoate scientists even before the term who looked at the empirical world and said, Man, this does NOT jive with what the priests are telling us So, on topic alone, I cannot recommend this book highly enough How about content, style, execution Hecht is deft and witty, though over the course of 700 pages she clearly has her favorite doubters, and they receive better writing and attention The last chapter seemed a bit rushed, but then it is always hard to write history about the present so little time for perspective to mature on what is happening.This is a good introduction to a pantheon of philosophers through the ages If you don t add at least 5 names to your list of People whose writing I must read, then you are either a professor of philosophy already, or not reading very closely This book deserves a wider audience in as Carl Sagan phrased it this demon haunted world Hecht does her part to keep the flame of reason flickering, no doubt about it. This broad but meticulous history of ideas helps to correct two widespread errors the belief among current nonbelievers that previous generations all accepted religion uncritically, and the belief among current believers that atheism is some new, decadent development The reality is that from the moment the first religious belief existed, the first doubt existed, both in communities and within each individual People have always struggled with problems of good and evil, sin and grace, sense and transcendence As the author documents, these struggles have produced some of the most acute, profound and powerful ideas in human history.