Buddha preached the "Middle Way," advising individuals to avoid the extremes of behavior and thought: if one engages with tolerance and moderation, one will find enlightenment. Marinoff, a "philosophical counselor" and Buddhist practitioner, teaches that the "ABCs" of Aristotle, Buddha and Confucius can pave the way not just to happiness but to finding balance in an increasingly globalized world. The book starts strong, with five chapters relating these ABCs to the individual. But the second part, which extends the conceit to dealing with drugs, poverty, terrorism and other global problems, is less successful. Marinoff's inclination toward rant over reason may polarize readers rather than driving them toward the prescribed balance and thoughtfulness. For example, he writes, "Whenever some inane American billboard or subway advertisement asks me, 'Is your child on drugs?' I sometimes think, 'I sure as hell hope so.' Good drugs may be his best chance of getting off all the bad drugs... the Ritalin... the televangelism... and the Starbucks coffee." Though Marinoff says, "I too have finally been driven to an extreme-the extreme center. It's peaceful here, and quiet," his book is anything but quiet. Readers may wish for more solutions, indeed more of the Middle Way. (Oct.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
The Middle Way: Finding Happiness in a World of Extremesby Lou Marinoff
Today, our global village is filled with strife, caused primarily by extremists of every kind, all unwilling to compromise. But there is a better waya middle waywhere we might discover common ground for peace, both personally and universally. Lou Marinoff, professor of philosophy and author of Plato, not Prozac, reveals the ABCs of finding that spiritually rich path: Aristotle, Buddha, and Confucius. Each of these wise men knew that extremism destroys happiness, health and harmony, and shared the supremely important notion that the main purpose of our existence is to lead a good life, here and now. In three sections, Marinoff examines the contemporary world and shows how the “Middle Way” provides solutions to our most pressing problems. Part One looks at civilizational dynamics that drive both cooperation and conflict across borders, and introduces each of the ABCs. The second segment focuses on some notorious extremesincluding political polarization, and simmering religious, tribal, gender, cultural, and economic dividesand how the ABCs can reconcile them. And the third, final section enlightens us on how we all can apply the ABCs to the betterment of our own lives and humanity as a whole. A short list of recommended readings accompanies each chapter, along with illustrations, maps, and eye-opening charts.
Best-selling author Marinoff (philosophy, CUNY; Plato, Not Prozac) thinks the world is in a bad hole, that extremists dug it, and that attention to the philosophers of moderation-principally, Aristotle, Gautama Buddha, and Confucius-will help. Aristotle sought a life of sturdy citizenship governed by reason and scientific inquiry, the Buddha found his truth in the inner light and a gradual overcoming of desire, and Confucius taught a balanced obedience to family and state. Marinoff concedes "a conflict if not a clash" between Aristotelian and Confucian virtues, and certainly, there are extremes: Buddha took a revolutionary position against the Indian caste system, Aristotle believed in the notion of "natural slaves," and Confucius was an unwavering defender of the Chinese imperial system. Marinoff has many insights when he applieshis ideas, though he downplays the idea of a "rational Islam," and his alarm at the increasing Muslim population in Europe is troubling. His well-formed arguments against, e.g., the maldistribution of wealth, rogue corporations, and neocolonialists, suggest a Rawlsian social equilibrium. Marinoff's book will attract readers in any library; Derek Heater's World Citizenship and Government: Cosmopolitan Ideas in the History of Western Political Thoughtwould be a good supplement.
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