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Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and…
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Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from… (urspr publ 2003; utgåvan 2004)

av Jennifer Michael Hecht (Författare)

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9091417,262 (4.26)76
In this sweeping history, Jennifer Michael Hecht celebrates doubt as an engine of creativity and as an alternative to the political and intellectual dangers of certainty -- Just as belief has its own history featuring people whose unique expressions of faith have forever changed the world, doubt has a vibrant story and tradition with its own saints martyrs, and sages.… (mer)
Medlem:slojudy
Titel:Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson
Författare:Jennifer Michael Hecht (Författare)
Info:HarperOne (2004), Edition: Reprint, 576 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek
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Taggar:to-read

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Doubt : a history av Jennifer Michael Hecht (2003)

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Hecht's examination of how doubt has always lived alongside faith since the earliest times is a fascinating work of scholarship. She takes us from the beginnings of philosophy which grew alongside the earliest recorded organised religions, where the act of questioning and doubting was fundamental to the process of philosophy. This unfaith runs like a bright silver thread through history, although many times religion has sought to obscure the fact and expunge it from the records, or recast the proponents of doubt in a way that portrays them as faithful.


She takes us forward from the Greeks and through Rome, taking in the Jewish tradition - both ancient and medieval - to Gnosticism and throughout the growth of Christianity, branching on the way to bring in the beliefs of Asia and how they had approaches that differed but often embraced doubt far ore strongly than the tradition in the West.


She shows us how the explosion of unbelief that was the Enlightenment was built partly on this questioning, and the gradual acceptance that a lack of faith was not only correct and acceptable amongst the intellectual elite but also held no dangers for the masses. Finally, she shows how the meeting of Western Enlightenment and Eastern enlightenment in the 19th and 20th centuries brought yet more strength to those who doubt, and recaps how the great thinkers and writers who have pushed against or broken outside of the bounds of religion have built upon each other, and managed to find the kernels of wisdom in earlier thinkers time and again, despite the best efforts to obscure or marginalise those dangerous thought.


A wonderful book which has given me far too many new threads to chase down and consume. ( )
  Pezski | Jun 21, 2020 |
As long as gods have existed there have been people that doubt their existence. This is true for all cultures in which gods have thrived. Most of the reasons for the existence of a god or godlike being boil down to the fact that people didn’t know a lot about the natural world. Lightning and thunderclaps, tornadoes and hurricanes, earthquakes and solar eclipses; many of the natural phenomena that we understand or take for granted were feared by the ancients. Of course, since gods are argued to be human creations, they took on human shapes and human emotions.

Take the Greek Pantheon for instance. All of the gods and goddesses are frivolous and capricious, changing their support of whomever they please on a whim. Zeus sleeps around, Hera is noted for being terribly jealous, none of the gods in that pantheon take any interests in human affairs. They are childish and indolent, sitting around being immortal. Why should we worship such gods? This is what a lot of doubters argued. This point is the same for many of the texts that survived.

Through this wide swath of history, we are treated to some philosophy and how they dealt with the doubt that lives in men’s hearts. Thus, this book is a history of both belief and doubt, focusing mainly on the doubt. Jennifer Michael Hecht spares no tenet or creed to get to the bottom of the opposite point of view. The Greeks are where we start, followed by the Ancient Jews, the peoples of Asia, Rome, and so on until the first century. Then we start to get heated up with the Martyrs of Doubt, victims of the Inquisition and so on.

The really interesting part comes along with the innovations of Jesus. How did he innovate belief and doubt? Well, he turned religion into something that lacked reason I guess you could say. All you needed was to believe, even if it made no sense or had any basis in reality. Faith became everything. Remember the story of “Doubting Thomas?” I mean, I would probably want some kind of evidence that someone rose from the dead as well. Even those weren’t just the thoughts and teachings of Jesus though. Early Christianity was influenced really heavily by Paul of Tarsus, Augustine of Hippo and several other historical figures.

So anyway, this book is really captivating and a joy to read. Reading about historical atheists and the arguments they gave demonstrate that there is really nothing new under the sun. In the same vein, all of the arguments for the existence of God are the same as well. It mostly points to the complexity of ‘creation’ and how it couldn’t possibly have come about by chance. I still say you need proof for that sort of thing. Hearsay and gossip aren’t enough. ( )
  Floyd3345 | Jun 15, 2019 |
A marvelous, dense, but readable history of religious doubt, from the earliest writings to the 21st century. I've been working on this for about 10 months, carrying it around on my Kindle and inching along, giving me plenty of time to digest between readings of other books. It's well worth the effort and has a large bibliography I plan to use frequently. Covers Greek, Roman, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, and Muslim doubt, among others, with Buddhism, of course, beginning as a religion of non-theists. There's lengthy discussion of the various schools of doubt, as well as analysis of our America's Founding Fathers, many of whom, especially Jefferson, were doubters or downright non-believers and specifically worded the Bill of Rights to ensure that religion would never again intrude on our politics. If only.....

Given the current international situation, with fundamentalism as a core issue, I was delighted to find mention of the modern author Ibn Warraq (a pseudonym), an ex-Muslim who wrote "Why I Am Not a Muslim" and who castigates Western society for not subjecting Islam to the critical method, as Christianity and other religions have been, and instead being afraid to criticize it. Something to think about. ( )
1 rösta auntmarge64 | Nov 9, 2015 |
This does sound interesting.
  AlCracka | Apr 2, 2013 |
Every year on my visit to Taipei I buy a book of philosophy at the Eslite bookstore - as a kind of homage to how wonderful their selection of philosophy titles is (even if they no longer stock French and German originals along with Chinese and English translations). I was considering Habermas' latest collection of pieces from Verso, as well as a Isaiah Berlin on Romanticism, but then decided on this - just because I thought it would look good on my bookshelf. I have to say I am utterly charmed by the introduction and first chapter. Big ideas, lightly put across. Superb writing.Have to say I hate the subtitle though. Bad addition by agent or published. Doubt: a History would have been just fine.
1 rösta Katong | Apr 16, 2012 |
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Like belief, doubt takes a lot of different forms, from ancient Skepticism to modern scientific empiricism, from doubt in many gods to doubt in one God, to doubt that recreates and enlivens faith and doubt that is really disbelief.
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In this sweeping history, Jennifer Michael Hecht celebrates doubt as an engine of creativity and as an alternative to the political and intellectual dangers of certainty -- Just as belief has its own history featuring people whose unique expressions of faith have forever changed the world, doubt has a vibrant story and tradition with its own saints martyrs, and sages.

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