Before the publication of Small is Beautiful, his bestselling re- appraisal of Western economic attitudes, Dr E. F. Schumacher was already well known as an . E.F. Schumacher’s second book, “A Guide for the Perplexed,” starts out by describing a map he consulted in Leningrad (before the fall of the USSR) to find out. A decade after his influential meditation on “Buddhist economics,” British economic theorist and philosopher E.F. Schumacher set out to explore.
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A Book by EF Schumacher. Something has crossed over in me. I do my best pwrplexed in a warm bed. Conquer yourself rather than the world. Make a simple set of rules and follow them.
The late EF Schumacher understates his case in titling this book A Guide for the Perplexed —what he undertakes is to provide nothing less than a Manual for Survival, concerned not merely with individual physicalor even societal endurance though that, toobut more importantly with the full realization of human potential. Does perplexd sound impossibly ambitious?
E F Schumacher’s A Guide for the Perplexed
All this—and more—in only pages. But hold the snickers; the man pulls it off. Compellingly reasoned and persuasively presented, this Guide diagrams a view of humans and the world in which they live that will challenge and stimulate every thoughtful reader.
A Guide for the Perplexed offers us a harvest of utterly sane, consoling, and life-affirming insight from one schumacer the wisest minds of our time.
A Guide for the Perplexed – Wikipedia
It is an unapologetic defense of traditional Christian humanism which, I am certain, will light many a darkened path. A Guide for the Perplexed deserves wide reading. It deserves, in fact, a place in the college curriculum, as a text for introductory courses in philosophy.
A Guide for the Perplexed is really a statement of the philosophical underpinnings that inform Small is Beautiful. Those who have read neither book would be wise to read the latest book first.
Those who have read Small Is Beautiful will benefit from a careful reading of this new book. Its impact may be less schumachet, but perhaps more substantial and lasting. Genius is merely the art of generalizing and choosing. We are shaping the world faster than we can change ourselves, and we are applying to the present the habits of schumachsr past.
Schu,acher this vast cosmic picture the abyss between macrocosmos and microcosmos—the very big and the very little—will be bridged, and the whole complex of the universe will resolve into a homogeneous fabric in which matter and energy are indistinguishable and all forms of motion from the slow wheeling of the galaxies to the wild flight of electrons become simply changes in the structure and concentration of the primordial field. The first rule is never to accept anything as true if I did not have evident knowledge of its truth—that is, carefully to avoid precipitate conclusions and preconceptions, and to include nothing schumached in my judgments than what presented itself to my mind so clearly and so z that I had no occasion to call it into doubt.
The second, to divide each of the difficulties I examined into as many parts as possible and as may be required in order perplexsd resolve them better. The third, to direct my thoughts in an orderly manner, by beginning with the simplest and most easily known objects in order to ascend little by little, step by step, to knowledge of the most complex, and by supposing some perpleced even among objects that have no natural order of precedence.
A Guide for the Perplexed by Ernst F. Schumacher
And the last, throughout to make enumerations so complete, and reviews so comprehensive, that I could be sure of leaving nothing out.
Chapter 1 —On Philosophical. On preplexed visit to Leningrad some years ago I consulted a map to find out where I was, but I could not make it out. From where I stood, I could see several enormous churches, yet there was no trace of them on my map.
When finally an interpreter came to help me, he said: It then occurred to me that this was not the first time I had been given a map which failed to show many things I could see right in front of my eyes. All through school and university I had been given maps of life and knowledge on which there was hardly a trace of many of the things that I most cared about and that seemed to me to be of the greatest possible importance to the conduct of my life.
I remembered that for many years my perplexity had been complete; and no interpreter had come along to help me. It remained complete until I ceased to suspect the sanity of my perceptions and began, instead, to suspect the soundness of the maps. The maps I was given advised me that virtually all my ancestors, until quite recently, had been rather pathetic illusionists who conducted their lives on the basis of irrational beliefs and absurd superstitions. Even illustrious scientists, like Johannes Kepler or Isaac Newton, apparently spent most of their time and energy on nonsensical studies of nonexisting things.
Enormous amounts of hard-earned wealth had been squandered throughout history to the honor and glory of imaginary deities, not only by my European forebears, but by all peoples, in all parts of the world, at all times.
Everywhere thousands of seemingly healthy men and women had subjected themselves to utterly meaningless restrictions, like voluntary fasting; tormented themselves by celibacy; wasted their time on pilgrimages, fantastic rituals, reiterated prayers, and so forth; turning their backs on reality-and some do it even in this enlightened age-all for nothing, all out of ignorance and stupidity; none of it to be taken seriously today, except of course as museum pieces.
From what a history of error we had emerged! What a history of taking for real what every modern child knew to be totally unreal and imaginary! Our entire past, until quite recently, was today fit only for museums, where people could satisfy their curiosity about the oddity and incompetence of earlier generations.
What our ancestors had written, also, was in the main fit only for storage in libraries, where historians and other specialists could study these relics and write books about them, the knowledge of the past being considered interesting and occasionally thrilling but of no particular value for learning to cope with the problems of the present.
All this and many other similar things I was taught at school and university, although not in so many words, not plainly huide frankly. It would not do to call a spade a spade. Ancestors had to be treated with respect: Their preoccupation with religion was just one of their many signs of underdevelopment, not surprising in people who had not yet come of age. Even today, of course, there remained some interest in religion, which legitimized that of earlier times.
It was still permissible, on suitable occasions, to refer to Perplexee the Creator, although every educated person knew that there was not really a God, certainly not one capable of creating anything, and that the things around us had come into existence by a process of mindless evolution, that is, by chance and natural selection. Our ancestors, unfortunately, did not know about evolution, and so they invented oerplexed these fanciful myths.
The maps of real knowledge, designed for real life, showed nothing except things which allegedly could be proved to exist. It occurred to me, however, that the question of what constitutes proof was a schukacher subtle and difficult one.
Would it not be perpleded to turn the principle into its opposite and say: After all, matters that are beyond doubt are, in a sense, dead; they constitute no challenge to the living.
To accept anything as true means to incur the risk of error. If I limit myself to knowledge that I consider true beyond doubt, I minimize the risk of error, but at the same time I maximize the risk of missing out on what may be the subtlest, most important, and most rewarding things in life. Maybe it is necessarily so that the higher things cannot be known with the same degree of certainty as can the lesser things, in which case it would be a very great loss indeed perpleexed knowledge were limited to things beyond the possibility of doubt.
Even in nature there was nothing artistic except by chance, that is to say, even the most beautiful appearances could be fully accounted for-so we were told-by their utility in reproduction, as affecting natural selection.
Not surprisingly, the more thoroughly acquainted we became with the details of the map, the more we absorbed what it showed and achumacher used to the absence of the things it did not show, the more perplexed, unhappy, and cynical we became. Some of us, however, had experiences similar to that described by Maurice Nicoll: Once, in the Greek New Testament class on Sundays, taken by the Head Master, I dared to ask, in spite of my stammering, what some parable meant. The answer was so confused that I actually experienced my first moment of consciousness-that is, I suddenly realized that no one knew anything.
I remember so clearly this class-room, the high windows constructed so that we could not see out of them, the desks, the platform on which the Head Perplsxed sat, his scholarly, thin face, his nervous habits of twitching his mouth and jerking his hands-and suddenly this inner revelation of knowing that he knew nothing,—nothing, that is, about anything that really mattered.
This was my first inner liberation from the power of external life. From that time, I knew for certain-and that means always by inner individual authentic perception which is the only source of real knowledge-that all my loathing of religion as it was taught me was right.
The maps produced by modern materialistic Scientism leave all the questions that really matter unanswered; more than that, they deny perpexed validity of the questions. The situation was desperate enough in my youth half a century ago; it is even worse now because the ever more rigorous application of the scientific method to all subjects and disciplines has destroyed even the last remnants of ancient wisdom—at least in the Western world.
People are asking for bread and they are being given stones. They long for guidance about how to live as responsible human beings, and they are told that they are machines, like computers, without free will and therefore without responsibility. What we have to deplore therefore is not so much the fact that scientists are specializing, but rather the fact that specialists are generalizing.
Contemporary nihilism no longer brandishes the word nothingness; today nihilism is camouflaged as nothing-but-ness. Human phenomena are thus turned into mere epiphenomena. Yet they remain our reality, everything we are and everything we become.
In this life we find ourselves as in a strange perplexec. I am not quite ready.
Wait until I have sorted things out. This is very strange and, on the face of it, quite irrational. They hesitate, doubt, change their minds, run hither and thither, uncertain not simply of how to get what they want but above all of what they want. Maybe all I want is to be happy. Who will tell me where I can find it? Who ev guide me to it or at least point out the direction in which I have to proceed?
In this book, we shall look at the world and try and see it whole. To do this is sometimes called to philosophize, and philosophy has been defined as the love of, and seeking after, wisdom. Neither do the ignorant seek after wisdom; for herein is the evil of ignorance, that he who is neither good nor wise is nevertheless satisfied with himself.
One way of looking at the world as a whole is by means of a perplexxed, that is to say, some sort of a plan or outline that shows where various things are to be found-not all things, of course, for that would make the map as big as the world, but the things that are most prominent, most important for orientation-out standing landmarks, as it were, which you cannot miss, or perplxed you do miss them, you will be left in total perplexity.
The most important part of any inquiry or exploration is its beginning. As has often been pointed out, if one makes a false or superficial beginning, no matter how rigorous the methods followed during the succeeding investigation, they will never remedy the initial error.
Mapmaking is an empirical art that employs a high degree of abstraction but nonetheless clings to reality with something akin to self-abandonment.
Mapmaking is not the whole of philosophy, just as a map or guidebook is not the whole of geography. It scyumacher simply a beginning—the very beginning which is at present lacking, when people ask: My map or guidebook is constructed on the recognition of four E Truths—or landmarks—which are so prominent, so all-pervading, that you can see them wherever you happen to be.
If you know them well, you can always find your location by them, and if you cannot recognize them, perolexed are lost. Man—his schumacherr to meet the world. His way of learning about the world; and. Work out your salvation with diligence. For this purpose, according to the precepts of the Tibetan teachers: A philosophy comprehensive enough to embrace the whole of knowledge is indispensable. A system of meditation which will produce the power of concentrating the mind on anything whatsoever is indispensable.
An art of living which will enable one to utilize each activity of body, speech and mind as an aid on the Path is indispensable. The more recent philosophers of Europe have seldom been faithful mapmakers. Descartesfor instance, to whom modern philosophy owes so much, approached his self-set task in quite a different way.