Beyond Reason

The Seekers

Posted in Writing/Reading by Abigail on September 29, 2007

“Caught between two eternities–the vanished past and the unknown future–we never cease to seek our bearings and our sense of direction. We inherit our legacy of the sciences and the arts… We glory in their discoveries and creations. But we are all Seekers. We all want to know why.”

I have a book recommendation! “The Seekers” by Daniel J. Boorston (1998). It’s fabulous. It provides a philosophical framework excellent for those who’ve heard things but don’t know where to put them in the context of history. It starts with our oldest documented belief systems and hits Homer, Socrates,  Machiavelli, Calvin, Francis Bacon, John Locke, Kierkegaard, Hegel, and Einstein along the way. While it appears that philosophical questions are the weightiest questions we can ask, Boorstin is actually able to add to this weight. He has a written style which is compelling, easy, and thoroughly inspiring. He’s eloquent. If it’s possible to add to the grandeur of these concepts, he does.

Interestingly, he doesn’t shun evaluation. It seems it is politically correct to be “unbiased” but certainly this isn’t really possible. I assume he has this in mind, and he presents his viewpoints anyway, from time to time. This creates a far more engaging and meaningful experience.

The book generally flows chronologically, starting with Christianity and Islam (a higher way), then the way of the philosophers (referencing self for answers), abandoning the question all together (asking how instead of why), and last bewilderment (today’s “conclusion”). That trajectory could seem entirely depressing but the book ends positively. (Also, a reader doesn’t need to agree with the author.) At the end we no longer seek for meaning, but we find meaning in the seeking. We see Einstein on his death bed, asking for his formulas again. He did not find, but he had sought.

To put it mildly, I highly recommend this book. It is colorful, thought provoking, and a phenomenal example of good writing.