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The American Soul: Rediscovering the Wisdom of the Founders

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The American Soul: Rediscovering the Wisdom of the Founders Cover

ISBN13: 9781585422265
ISBN10: 1585422266
Condition: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Looking at the lives of America's founders-including Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin-scholar and bestselling author Jacob Needleman explores their core of inner beliefs; their religious and spiritual sensibilities; and their individual conception of the purpose of life. 

The founders, Needleman argues, conceived of an "inner democracy": a continual pursuit of wisdom and self-improvement that would undergird the outer democracy in which we live today. Any understanding of America as a nation of spiritual values will in the years ahead require Needleman's work as a point of reference.

Synopsis:

Religious scholar and best-selling author Jacob Needleman provides a history of America from an angle never before conceived: how the spiritual ethics of the founders shaped the nation we live in today.

Synopsis:

Examines how the spiritual beliefs and vision of America's founders shaped the country's history and culture and assesses the influence of the spiritual traditions of African slaves, Native Americans, and early mystical communities on colonial America.

Synopsis:

Includes bibliographical references (p. [357]-361).

Synopsis:

Looking at the lives of America's founders--including Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin--scholar and bestselling author Needleman explores their core of inner beliefs; their religious and spiritual sensibilities; and their individual conception of the purpose of life.

About the Author

The acclaimed author of The American Soul, Why Can’t We Be Good? and Money and the Meaning of Life, Jacob Needleman is Professor of Philosophy at San Francisco State University, and former Director of the Center for the Study of New Religions at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley. He lives in Oakland, CA.

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OneMansView, May 13, 2010 (view all comments by OneMansView)
Fanciful (3.5*s)

To the author, America, as an ideal, still represents the standard which nations attempt to emulate, yet he finds an inauthenticity, a shallowness, in the actual practice of Americans and America in regard to such ideals as freedom, community, democracy, well-being, and the like, which, in his estimation, reflects a culturally-sanctioned paucity of character, the lack of a well-developed inner-selves. He uses the examples of Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson to demonstrate how those with strength of character can have large public impact, while asking for little in return.

To the author, America has always, at least in its finest moments, represented a search for the Good, or that which is best for mankind. The Constitutional Convention of 1787, in its extensive, wise deliberations, is the perfect exemplar of what men with strong personalities can achieve for the greater society. For him, the Constitution provides a practical framework for the external commercial, legal world, but more importantly gives space, or freedom, for the sanctity and growth of individuals.

But he finds that commercialism, materialism, and militarism have overwhelmed the promise of America. Democracy has become essentially a tool to manipulate for self-gain or questionable agendas. Furthermore, there is the cynical view that the Founders were no less self-interested. The author also decries the fact that Americans have not and do not fully appreciate just how out of step the massacre of America’s indigenous population and the enslavement of millions were with our ideals. Basically, it is both an illusion and hypocritical for Americans to maintain that America, in its actual practices, represents the height of human society.

The author’s call for a renewed ascendance of America’s soul seems fanciful. He wants us to re-mythologize the past, especially our heroes, deemphasizing their shortcomings. It is their inner-selves that we need to emulate. There are no suggestions as to how such a transformation will occur. Furthermore, the author does not address the permeation of American society by the values and control of huge corporations. In our land of downsizing, unemployment, and foreclosure, where are the supportive democratic communities that he extols? How does personal growth occur in a dog-eat-dog world?

The detailed look at some of the writings, speeches, and actions of the Founders, as well as Frederick Douglas, is not without interest, but seems overly long and ultimately somewhat pointless. The author sincerely wants to see an America different from what it has become and what he believes it may have once been. He has a rather quasi-religious faith that perhaps America will change, will come to its senses and reflect our founding ideals. For those with similar hopes, the book will likely be appealing. For others, beyond the interesting history, the book will seem delusional.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781585422265
Author:
Needleman, Jacob
Publisher:
Tarcher
Location:
New York
Subject:
General
Subject:
United states
Subject:
Ethics
Subject:
Spirituality
Subject:
Social values
Subject:
National characteristics, american
Subject:
United States - 18th Century
Subject:
Spirituality - General
Subject:
US History - 20th Century
Subject:
US History-General
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st pbk. ed.
Edition Description:
Paperback / softback
Series Volume:
GTR-588
Publication Date:
20030631
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Pages:
400
Dimensions:
9 x 6.02 x 1.04 in 0.92 lb
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » US History » General
Humanities » Philosophy » Ethics

The American Soul: Rediscovering the Wisdom of the Founders Used Trade Paper
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$5.95 In Stock
Product details 400 pages Jeremy P. Tarcher - English 9781585422265 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Religious scholar and best-selling author Jacob Needleman provides a history of America from an angle never before conceived: how the spiritual ethics of the founders shaped the nation we live in today.
"Synopsis" by , Examines how the spiritual beliefs and vision of America's founders shaped the country's history and culture and assesses the influence of the spiritual traditions of African slaves, Native Americans, and early mystical communities on colonial America.
"Synopsis" by , Includes bibliographical references (p. [357]-361).
"Synopsis" by , Looking at the lives of America's founders--including Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin--scholar and bestselling author Needleman explores their core of inner beliefs; their religious and spiritual sensibilities; and their individual conception of the purpose of life.
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