A Guide For The Perplexed

A Guide for the Perplexed is a short book by E. F. Schumacher, published in 1977. The title is a reference to Maimonides's The Guide for the Perplexed. Schumacher himself considered A Guide for the Perplexed to be his most important achievement, although he was better known for his 1974 environmental economics bestseller Small Is Beautiful, which made him a leading figure within the ecology movement. His daughter wrote that her father handed her the book on his deathbed, five days before he died and he told her "this is what my life has been leading to". As the Chicago Tribune wrote, "A Guide for the Perplexed is really a statement of the philosophical underpinnings that inform Small is Beautiful".

Schumacher describes his book as being concerned with how man lives in the world. It is also a treatise on the nature and organisation of knowledge and is something of an attack on what Schumacher calls "materialistic scientism". Schumacher argues that the current philosophical 'maps' that dominate western thought and science are both overly narrow and based on some false premises.

However, this book is only in small part a critique. Schumacher spends the greater part of it putting forward and explaining what he considers to be the four great truths of philosophical map making:

  • The world is a hierarchical structure with at least four 'levels of being'.
  • The 'Principle of Adequateness' determines man's ability to accurately perceive the world.
  • Man's learning relates to four 'fields of knowledge'.
  • The art of living requires an understanding of two types of problem: 'convergent' and 'divergent'.

Read more about A Guide For The PerplexedCritique of Materialistic Scientism, Levels of Being, Adequateness, Four Fields of Knowledge, Two Types of Problem, Art, The Tasks of Man, Reviews

Famous quotes containing the word guide:

    Those thoughts are truth which guide us to beneficial interaction with sensible particulars as they occur, whether they copy these in advance or not.
    William James (1842–1910)