Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson (Paperback)
Jennifer Michael Hecht's 2003 history, Doubt, has become a favorite book of mine. Hecht's knowledge and smartness in connecting nearly three millennia of doubters is astounding. Worthy of note: Cultures defined by geography or time dispute. Independent thinkers from everywhere, and any era, using perception and reason tend to agree. This book caused me to acquire ten others.— Tony
In the tradition of grand sweeping histories such as From Dawn To Decadence, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, and A History of God, Hecht champions doubt and questioning as one of the great and noble, if unheralded, intellectual traditions that distinguish the Western mind especially-from Socrates to Galileo and Darwin to Wittgenstein and Hawking. This is an account of the world's greatest ‘intellectual virtuosos,' who are also humanity's greatest doubters and disbelievers, from the ancient Greek philosophers, Jesus, and the Eastern religions, to modern secular equivalents Marx, Freud and Darwin—and their attempts to reconcile the seeming meaninglessness of the universe with the human need for meaning,
This remarkable book ranges from the early Greeks, Hebrew figures such as Job and Ecclesiastes, Eastern critical wisdom, Roman stoicism, Jesus as a man of doubt, Gnosticism and Christian mystics, medieval Islamic, Jewish and Christian skeptics, secularism, the rise of science, modern and contemporary critical thinkers such as Schopenhauer, Darwin, Marx, Freud, Nietzsche, the existentialists.
About the Author
Jennifer Michael Hecht is a philosopher, historian, and award-winning poet. She is the author of Doubt: A History and The End of the Soul; the latter won the Phi Beta Kappa Society's 2004 Ralph Waldo Emerson Award. Hecht's books of poetry include The Next Ancient World and Funny. She earned her Ph.D. in history from Columbia University and teaches at The New School in New York City.
“A remarkably wide ranging history.”
— Booklist (starred review)
“Hecht gleefully invites readers on a lively stroll through three millennia of clashes between believers and nonbelievers.”
— Detroit Free Press
“Hecht aims to give doubt its due in her lively and endlessly provocative new book.”
— Christian Century
“Hecht is right that doubt’s story deserves to be told ... [and] she tells it in just the right spirit.”
— Alan Wolfe, New Republic
“Jennifer Michael Hecht has forever changed the way I will think about history — religious or otherwise.”
— Krista Tippett, Speaking of Faith -- Minnesota Public Radio