Will appeal to like-minded readers but may be unconvincing to others.

A proponent of New Age science offers a broad-ranging critique of modern science and presents an alternative approach.

An opponent of what he deems to be the mechanistic materialism of current science, Institute of Noetic Sciences fellow Sheldrake (The Sense of Being Stared At, 2003, etc.) urges a return to vitalism, “the theory that living organisms are truly alive, and not explicable in terms of physics and chemistry alone.” He claims that his discovery of what he calls the “morphic resonance,” activity patterns that “resonate across time and space with subsequent patterns,” offers “a range of new possibilities for research.” Further, this morphic field holds the key to cures for migraine headaches, the prediction of earthquakes and tsunamis and the solution to many still-open questions in science—e.g., the existence of dark matter. According to his theory, morphic fields operate over time and space so that past events shape the present and resonate simultaneously throughout the universe. They embrace chemical events such as the crystallization of sugars and are responsible for telepathic abilities in animals and humans, as well as other paranormal events such as premonitions. Sheldrake suggests that living organisms inherit a “collective memory of the species, on which each individual draws,” and he speculates about the possibility that organisms experience feelings and that animals are not only conscious, but are, to some degree, capable of free will. While there are many open questions remaining in science—from the existence of the Higgs boson to the existence of free will—these continue to fuel debate within the mainstream of science as well as on its fringes.

Will appeal to like-minded readers but may be unconvincing to others.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7704-3670-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Deepak Chopra Books/Crown

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012



This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955


A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

A teacher and scholar of Buddhism offers a formally varied account of the available rewards of solitude.

“As Mother Ayahuasca takes me in her arms, I realize that last night I vomited up my attachment to Buddhism. In passing out, I died. In coming to, I was, so to speak, reborn. I no longer have to fight these battles, I repeat to myself. I am no longer a combatant in the dharma wars. It feels as if the course of my life has shifted onto another vector, like a train shunted off its familiar track onto a new trajectory.” Readers of Batchelor’s previous books (Secular Buddhism: Imagining the Dharma in an Uncertain World, 2017, etc.) will recognize in this passage the culmination of his decadeslong shift away from the religious commitments of Buddhism toward an ecumenical and homegrown philosophy of life. Writing in a variety of modes—memoir, history, collage, essay, biography, and meditation instruction—the author doesn’t argue for his approach to solitude as much as offer it for contemplation. Essentially, Batchelor implies that if you read what Buddha said here and what Montaigne said there, and if you consider something the author has noticed, and if you reflect on your own experience, you have the possibility to improve the quality of your life. For introspective readers, it’s easy to hear in this approach a direct response to Pascal’s claim that “all of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Batchelor wants to relieve us of this inability by offering his example of how to do just that. “Solitude is an art. Mental training is needed to refine and stabilize it,” he writes. “When you practice solitude, you dedicate yourself to the care of the soul.” Whatever a soul is, the author goes a long way toward soothing it.

A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-25093-0

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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