3 out of 4 stars
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Rediscovering the Wisdom of Human Nature by Chet Shupe is a self-help book. This work brutally attacks the way of life and the interests of people who today are called "civilized." The author seems to agree with Nietzsche when he wrote that "whoever has not two-thirds of his time to himself is a slave." But is it just a lack of free time that is the real problem? Not at all. According to Chet, we "civilized" people are spiritually imprisoned by force of laws and institutions that deny us access to our innate emotional intelligence.
The development of civilization has proven to be harmful to the mental and spiritual health of modern man. People are enslaved by individualism and by problems that only exist because we Westerners place so much importance on the future that we end up forgetting to live in the present.
To show an opposite and ideal example of how we should live, the author analyzed the lifestyle of the Pirahã (a Brazilian indigenous tribe). He examined the lifestyle and the spoken language of a people who are seen as "backward" by many arrogant Westerners. Daniel Everett's book Don't Sleep, There are Snakes demonstrates that the Pirahã language has no past tenses nor future tenses. Because they live only for the present, they appear to be much happier and have a sense of collectivity that Western man did not even dream of having.
First, I will comment on the positive aspects without further ado. There is no doubt that Chet Shupe made an accurate diagnosis of some evils that plague individuals in Western countries. He thinks that the problem exists in many parts of the world, but I consider it a "Western problem." I concur with his arguments about "mental slavery," and that civilization (instead of making our lives easier) ended up making a good part of the population unhappy. To put it in context, approximately one-third of Americans today have symptoms of anxiety or depression. In short, the diagnosis of problems is pure gold, and there is not much to improve in this respect.
Another exemplary aspect that deserves praise is the fact that the book is professionally edited. I found only a few minor errors. At the beginning of the book, the author even praises the editor Marianne Ferrari for her work, and she performed very well indeed. Before I started reading the book, I was afraid that Chet Shupe, being an electronics engineer, would have some problems getting his ideas down on paper, but I was wrong.
The book, however, has some flaws. In the first place, the author affirms in all letters that marriage is an institution that is oppressive to women. This generalization may have been true in the past (maybe it still is in some parts of the globe), but to say that all women are going to be oppressed and become unhappy if they get married is entirely absurd. This argument does not hold water. Perhaps some traumatic events in his life have led Chet to think that way.
Another "mistake" that stands out is the conclusion that all human beings will automatically perceive problems and that a loving revolution will occur. From there, everyone will develop a "sisterhood" or "brotherhood" and abandon modern individualistic interests. The author himself says that he does not know how this will happen, but this idea is too simplistic and romantic to be taken seriously.
All things considered, Rediscovering the Wisdom of Human Nature deserves three out of four stars. It is a fascinating book that addresses many topics ignored in similar books. I had to deduct one star due to the reasons mentioned in the paragraphs above. I would recommend it to everyone who wants to have greater mental and spiritual health in a world where individualism prevails.
Rediscovering the Wisdom of Human Nature
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