Jesse Field's Reviews > As a Man Thinketh

As a Man Thinketh by James Allen
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's review
Oct 13, 2010

did not like it
Read in October, 2010

"Thought allied fearlessly to purpose becomes creative force." This is the basic idea behind all of James Allen's sugary half-truths. When I found an audio file with this text pre-packaged into my new cart, read by "Brian Johnson, Philosopher and CEO of," I was briefly intrigued.

Then as I listened a bit more, I thought it was some kind of joke or parody -- surely in just a moment Brian, "Philosopher," will put on a more genuine, critical voice. Surely he would tell us that of course you can't change your circumstances with your thoughts. That's not philosophy, but magical thinking. Surely he would remind us, as Barbara Erhenreich has tried to do, that perfectly virtuous people fail and suffer everyday. And that perfect scoundrals, animalistic beasts, succeed and prosper all the time. (For some reason I think of Adam Sandler. I believe he once commented with pride that he did not finish high school.)

Surely people all know, in this day and age, that "serenity" is not a viable goal in life? That the best we can do is meet the challenges as they come, acknowledge that life is always a struggle, and find reasons to continue the struggle?

Surely people don't fall for this dully polished hogwash, already dreadfully unoriginal by 1903? Doesn't the pompousness, the selfishness, the sheer vacuity of Allen's thinking show through?

Sadly, there truly is no end to how gullible readers can be. I suppose when you combine basic ignorance with the anxiety and ambivalence we all feel these days (trust me I feel it too) then the result is that a large part of the population will continue to purchase the age-old idea that "right thoughts" will change the world. That's why Brian Johnson can live the glamorous, self-oriented life of a "CEO." That's why Allen's 1903 text is plastered all over the internet, from Wikipedia to Project Gutenberg and so on and so forth. I've hit on yet another node of the most compelling fantasy that exists in this market-and-work oriented world.

"There's a sucker born every minute." - P.T. Barnum (died 1891)
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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Alexander Allen I disagree that Allen’s philosophy is some kind of magical thinking that can change your life through empty wishes. What his book teaches is how an individual’s thought logically affects their lives. Allen talks about this issue with his example of a poor man who “dreams” of a better surrounding and life while at the same time ignoring the few responsibilities of his life and job. Allen is saying that this man’s life will continue the same because of his deceptive and low behavior and thoughts. He also stated how a man’s soul condition can’t be judge by another due to the deep complexity of a person’s thought. Virtuous people may fail every day and many scoundrels may reach success but who are we to decide who is virtuous or a complete scoundrel down to the soul. Each person receives their own benefits and punishments, but we can’t automatically say that a good person won’t be rewarded in their own small and almost unnoticeable ways, or that a bad person won’t suffer from his actions in ways that no one else can comprehend.

message 2: by Cheryl (new) - added it

Cheryl Reber The book is as heretical to Christian thought as it is impractical to modern man.

message 3: by Hpc (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hpc Strongly disagree...

message 4: by Cheryl (new) - added it

Cheryl Reber And why do you disagree?

Ryan Jang Jesse Fields - the dumbest educated human being alive

Shaheer Henderson There is something in this for a person who can not see through the fog. Bashing someone else's way of thinking shows that most readers are focused on something other than the basis. Understand that James Allen wrote this based on the understandings of the early 1900's. Thus, all of his words, sentence structure, and ideas conflict with modern thought. However, four stars are given from me, because the book opens us up to thinking period.

Fasojko Well Jesse I cannot agree with you on a single sentence you wrote.
In my opinion you haven't had a chance to get to understand what Allen wanted to say. It is not some kind of magic trick selling you a miraculous solution to solve your problems or maybe anxiety and ambivalence, but rather an advice on how to live more peacefully and how to make it easier through the journey.
I will avoid my thoughts on how I understood the book but rather share my core understanding of it, which might be totally wrong. Message I found reading it says that all that matters is you and your mind. You can create more or less a good and happy life only by changing the way you think and observe things.

Simply said - if you try to find something good and positive in everything that happens to you, you will create your own world, a happy and prosperous one. No, it doesn't mean you will end up living an illusion, I can say based on my own experience that positive will attract more positive. :)

And why would life be a struggle? It is a journey and it is up to you to live it as a struggle or as a new experience every minute, hour and day.

Long story short, maybe I interpreted it wrong, maybe you did, maybe both of us have a good and valid point. At the end who can say what is right and what is wrong, we can only work to make it more bearable:)

all the best!

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