James M. Madsen, M.D.'s Reviews > The Problem Of The Soul Two Visions Of Mind And How To Reconcile Them

The Problem Of The Soul Two Visions Of Mind And How To Reconc... by Owen J. Flanagan
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Apr 05, 09

bookshelves: consciousness, nonfiction, philosophy, psychology, religion, metaphysics
Read in April, 2009

What a dense but well-written book! Flanagan compares and contrasts various aspects of the "manifest image" (the traditional view of the world, the soul, immortality, and ethics as exemplified by traditional Western religion and by the "perennial philosophy") with the scientific image in a balanced and respectful way. He comes down on the side of the scientific image and argues that the fears of losing cherished ideas about the soul and about morals are in many ways misplaced. The arguments are deep and well-reasoned, and whether you agree with his thesis or not, this is a challenging and stimulating book that more than recompenses the time and effort needed to think carefully and critically about his positions. Not that it's not fun to read--his writing, dense at times when he delves deeply into philosophical premises, is also at times delightfully limpid. Some have criticized Flanagan for appearing to favor Buddhism over Western religion, but I for one do not find that attitude borne out by the book. I highly recommend not only the text of the book but also the bibliographic-essay section at the end of the book; this section is a great springboard for further reading even as it is daunting in its reach!
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