An exploration of man’s evolving search for answers, featuring short profiles of historically influential theologians, philosophers, scientists, and mathematicians.
Chavooshian’s debut is a chronicle of figures who dared to ask the most significant questions about man’s existence. Some were theologians, such as Jesus Christ, Muhammad, and Ramakrishna, positing man’s place in the universe and the nature of his creation; others were scientists, such as Hippocrates, Charles Darwin, or Albert Einstein, who dared to question the mechanics of the physical world. Many of them owed the language and manner of their ideas to early philosophers, including Plato, Socrates, and Sun Tzu, whose methods would be adopted (and sometimes rejected) by later figures, such as Søren Kierkegaard, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Friedrich Nietzsche. Chavooshian profiles all these people, along with more than 70 other great thinkers from throughout history, in loose chronological order, summarizing their contributions in succinct but thoroughly researched chapters, sometimes accompanied by images. Despite each chapter’s thrift, they present their subjects’ achievements with great enthusiasm, offering commentary on how earlier schools of thought helped shape their ideas. Each chapter ends with a helpful, encouraging list of each figure’s principal works. Chavooshian presents theologians of Islamic, Buddhist, and Hindu origins alongside Christian teachers and features Arab and other Eastern philosophers alongside Western peers. In nearly all cases, he presents their ideas without judgment, although he does take note when he believes that certain ways of thinking lead to violence, fascism, or anti-Semitism—such as Muslim theologian Al-Ghazali’s development of Sharia law or the twisting of Karl Marx’s communism. Although it’s by no means a comprehensive collection—it’s particularly light on philosophers, theologians, and scientists from the 20th century, for example—it makes for an excellent reference source on some of the most influential people in mankind’s pursuit of knowledge.
A tribute to humanity’s inquisitive spirit and a useful guidebook for readers looking for a little inspiration or purpose.