ZEN: A Rational Critique by Ernest Becker

ZEN: A Rational Critique

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

This study of Zen (which was originally a Ph.D. dissertation) maintains, and sustains, as its central argument, the fact that Zen as an approach to living is a ""blatant denial of life"", and of the Western concepts of individuation and autonomy. Secondarily it is a parallel between Zen and the psychotherapy of the West, its techniques and aims, and perhaps one of the strongest appeals Zen holds for the West is in highlighting the West's ""own critical bankruptcy""- the undefined but diffuse sense of purposelessness which is of course the distinguishing feature of the younger generation which has espoused Zen. In his contrasts between Zen and psychoanalysis (which also exploits a regressive situation), Becker outlines the methods and disciplines of the Zen conversion, the repudiation of logic, the discrediting of reality, and finally the ""fatal surrender of individuality"". He also provides a historical perspective on the background of Zen, its use of the trance as a central part of the conversion, its affiliation with more stringent processes of thought reform (the Chinese technique of coercion), its values as claimed.... Becker, a sometimes brilliant, radically direct and definite writer, has emphasized here the use of Zen as an approach to personality change, proves- that in fulfilling its ""imperative- selfless submission""- the so-called Zen liberation is a total negation. Certainly not for the casual convert, but rather for members of more advanced standing in the fields of philosophy and psychology.

Publisher: Norton