Book Review: "The Search for Meaning: A Short History" by Dennis Ford

I think that this book is an extraordinary little accomplishment.

I’ve always had a tendency to view the so-called search for meaning in black and white terms—i.e. religion versus science.

Often I find that books attempting to answer the meaning question adopt a single, authoritarian approach; however, this book distills all the basic approaches into an organized and sympathetic manner.

I found this book useful and informative because I always like to be prepared when faced with the questions, “What do I believe?” or “How should I live my life?” I think the book promotes an important message: Always ask, “Why?”

Here the author gives a great example: “We go to work, have children, eat meat, attend church on Sunday mornings perhaps, but we do all of these things without self-consciousness, without deliberation. We simply accept the norms of our culture and community without awareness or questioning; in a sense, we are living and acting on automatic.”

The author gives a range of approaches through different fields of study: Myth, philosophy, science, pragmatism, and naturalism—to name just a few of the eight fields he explores.

I consider myself a spiritual person, but I have always felt a resistance to religion as a means to answer my questions. For me, this book is a useful tool that allows me to better articulate my views.

If you do buy this book, and if you choose to read only one section, read the section on pragmatism—a fascinating topic, deeply highlighted within my copy of the book.