A wide-ranging, well-researched guide to examining what life’s all about.
In his debut work, White, in an easy-to-read format, guides readers through issues that have perplexed and challenged him over the years—and that have troubled sages and other thinkers for centuries. He begins by addressing how people make the decisions, both major and mundane, that shape their lives; he then explores the forces that guide people’s determinations, such as culture, reason, intuition and mere whim, and discusses them all in depth. White goes on to ask how people know what reality truly is and introduces a wide variety of worldviews across the globe (and across time), showing that concepts of “truth” or “reality” can differ depending upon one’s time and place. The same is true of human values, the author writes, and he then addresses the larger question of where such values come from, examining biology as well as culture. Overall, he advocates keeping an open mind when discovering one’s own values, choices and telos, or purpose in life. The author’s depth of research is impressive, as he quotes and discusses writers and thinkers as diverse as Friedrich Nietzsche and Henry David Thoreau. Despite this erudite approach, however, White’s book functions more as a self-help guide than a pure work of philosophy. For example, he sometimes uses dialogues to further illustrate and enliven his arguments, setting up discussions between “Skeptico” and “Wisdom Seeker,” and he also adds “Thought Experiments” to help readers better understand the material. Some readers, especially those facing existential or mere midlife crises, will likely find White’s work thought-provoking.
A fine introduction to exploring life’s biggest questions.