The human condition is beset by two sensations of spiritual and emotional oneness; Tolkowsky believes he has demystified the link between them—and the meaning of life.
Throughout human history, we have tried to analyze and understand our place in the universe. There are two states of being: a desire to be part of the greater sense of self in a larger world and the more standard human-deity relationship model. In Tolkowsky's exhaustive philosophical study, he examines these distinct states of being and tries to divine how they operate within us all. There is a oneness that comes from “Voidish wholeness” and one that comes from “Intellectual wholeness.” Relying on this framework, Tolkowsky uses religion, philosophy, linguistics, ethical tenets and even physics to illustrate that these ideas actually operate in concert together and not apart. It’s this spiritual balancing act that bridges the gap between the two poles, and shifting between the two senses as needed is the natural state of mind. This is much deeper than a mere debate between the schools of Eastern and Western religions. Selflessness and harmony with nature are, in the author's view, as necessary as a relationship with a monotheistic god. Pursuing one without the other is futile and highlights humanity's eternal folly. As a philosopher, Tolkowsky is an exacting analyzer of theories. He untangles them from their sometimes convoluted roots and uncovers the bare concepts. He draws inspiration and wisdom from the minds of Descartes, Kant and Aristotle, to name a few. As a writer, Tolkowsky doesn’t dumb down the context in his work at all, so the layperson may have a hard time following some of the more obtuse connections without a developed taste for logic and reason. Ultimately, each sense of oneness is explained to be missing an element provided only by the other; understanding this relationship is crucial to the meaning of life.
A stimulating read for the philosophically minded, especially for abstract thinkers and those stout with intellect.