Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson

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Harper Collins, Sep 28, 2010 - History - 576 pages
12 Reviews

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.

 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - auntmarge64 - LibraryThing

A marvelous, dense, but readable history of religious doubt, from the earliest writings to the 21st century. I've been working on this for about 10 months, carrying it around on my Kindle and inching ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - quantum_flapdoodle - LibraryThing

Finally, a very good historical exploration of the roots of doubt. The author pieces together a history of the world's most prominent freethinkers since the beginning of recorded history, and does a ... Read full review

Contents

ONE Whatever Happened to Zeus
1
TWO Smacking the Temple 600 BCE1
45
THREE What the Buddha Saw 600 BCE1
86
FOUR When in Rome in Doubt 50 BCE200
125
FIVE Christian Doubt Zen Elisha
169
SIX Medieval Doubt LoopstheLoop 8001400
216
SEVEN The Printing Press and
264
EIGHT Sunspots and White House Doubters 16001800
315
NINE Doubts Bid for a Better World 18001900
371
The New Cosmopolitan
428
Notes
495
Bibliography
521
Acknowledgments
529
Copyright

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Page 80 - Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun? One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.
Page 80 - Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun. Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave whither thou goest.
Page 80 - There is one alone, and there is not a second; yea, he hath neither child nor brother: yet is there no end of all his labour; neither is his eye satisfied with riches; neither saith he, For whom do I labour, and bereave my soul of good? This is also vanity, yea, it is a sore travail.
Page 66 - Wherefore do the wicked live, become old, yea, are mighty in power ? Their seed is established in their sight with them, and their offspring before their eyes. Their houses are safe from fear, neither is the rod of God upon them.
Page 76 - Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do : and behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.
Page 307 - Our revels now are ended. These our actors, As I foretold you, were all spirits, and Are melted into air, into thin air: And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces, The solemn temples, the great globe itself, Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff As dreams are made on ; and our little life Is rounded with a sleep.
Page 79 - Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead more than the living which are yet alive. Yea, better is he than both they, which hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.
Page 78 - For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.
Page 84 - It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting : for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.
Page 69 - Canst thou lift up thy voice to the clouds, That abundance of waters may cover thee? Canst thou send lightnings, that they may go, And say unto thee, Here we are? Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? Or who hath given understanding to the heart?

About the author (2010)

Jennifer Michael Hecht is a philosopher, historian, and award-winning poet. She is the author of Doubt: A History and The End of the Soul; the latter won the Phi Beta Kappa Society's 2004 Ralph Waldo Emerson Award. Hecht's books of poetry include The Next Ancient World and Funny. She earned her Ph.D. in history from Columbia University and teaches at The New School in New York City.

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