Why the book was written

Why the book was written: A digital foreword from the author... 

At the end of a degree in biochemistry I came to the realisation that I had no idea of life’s real purpose: that having assumed there was no ‘meaning of life’ I had made no real effort to discover if there might be one. The most important cause of this was my scientific education and view of modern science’s implications for the meaning of life. The scientific era seemed to render obsolete all previous ideas about the purpose of life. The result was a decision to read every major religion and philosophy in order to understand what teachings they contained that could be reconciled with modern scientific understanding, if any. This led to a long journey of reading that continued through the following decade, taking me from Augustine through to the Upanishads. This book is a distillation of that journey. It isn’t an academic or historical analysis of the world’s religion and philosophies. It is a personal view of the most useful learnings from that reading.

To give an idea of the range of reading that has gone into the book, I provide an abbreviated non-fiction bibliography below (please note this is not necessarily an endorsement of any particular text).

Emmanuel Papadakis, June 2013


Abbreviated bibliography

Andrews, Edgar: Who Made God? (EP, 2012)
Aquinas, St Thomas: Selected Writings (edit./trans. R. McInerny) (Penguin, 1998)
Aristotle: The Metaphysics (trans. H. Lawson-Tancred) (Penguin, 1998)
Aristotle: Ethics (trans. J.A.K. Thomson/H. Tredennick), (Penguin, 1953, 1976)
Armstrong, Karen: A History of God (Vintage, 1999)
Armstrong, Karen: Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life (Bodley, 2011)
St Augustine: City of God (trans. H. Bettenson) (Penguin, 1972, 1984)
Aurelius, Marcus: Meditations (Penguin, 2006)
Baggini, Julian: What’s It All About? (Granta, 2004)
Berkeley, George: Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous (edit. J. Dancy), (OUP, 1998, 2001)
Bhagavad Gita (trans. J. Mascaro), (Penguin, 1962) / (trans. W.J.Johnson) (OUP, 2008)
Benn, Piers: Ethics (Routledge, 1997)
Blackburn, Simon: Truth (Penguin, 2006)
Blackburn, Simon: Think (OUP, 2001)
Blackburn, Simon: Being Good (OUP, 2002)
Bodhidharma: The Zen Teachings of Bodhidharma (trans. Red Pine) (North Point Press, 1987, 1989)
Buddhist Scriptures (edit./trans. E. Conze), (Penguin, 1959)
The Bible (authorised King James version with Apocrypha; introduction and notes by R. Carroll/S. Prickett) (OUP, 1997, 1998)
Holy Bible (New Living Translation) (Tyndale House, 1996, 1997)
Camus, Albert: The Myth of Sisyphus (trans. J. O’Brien) (Penguin, 1975)
Collins, Francis: The Language of God (Pocket, 2007)
Comte-Sponville, Andre: The Little Book of Philosophy (Vintage, 2005)
Confucius: The Analects (trans. A. Waley) (Everyman, 1938, 2000)
Damasio, Antonio: Looking for Spinoza (Heinemann, 2003)
Dalai Lama, Stages of Meditation, (Rider (Random House), 2001, 2002)
Dalai Lama, The Art of Happiness (Hodder, 1999)
Dawkins, Richard: The God Delusion (Bantam, 2006)
Dawkins, Richard: The Selfish Gene (OUP, 1976, 1999)
Descartes: Meditations on First Philosophy (edit./trans. J. Cottingham), (CUP, 1986, 1999)
Dogen: Beyond Thinking (Shambhala, 2004)
Meister Eckhart: Selected Writings (trans. O.Davies) (Penguin, 1994)
Epicurus: The Epicurus Reader (trans. B.Inwood/L.P.Gerson) (Hackett, 1994)
Fontana, David: Meditation (New Perspectives, 1999)
Flew, Anthony: There is a God (HarperOne 2007)
St. John of the Cross: The Dark Night of the Soul (trans. M.Starr) (Dover, 2003) / (Halcyon Backhouse, 1988)
Jones, Steve: Almost Like a Whale (Transworld Publishers, 1999, 2000)
Gaarder, Jostein: Sophie’s World (Phoenix, 1995, 1999)
Al-Ghazali: The Alchemy of Happiness (Forgotten, 2008)
Al-Ghazali, Deliverance from Error/Path to Sufism (trans. R.J. McCarthy) (Fons Vitae, 2001)
The Epic of Gilgamesh (trans. N.K. Sandars) (Penguin, 1960, 1972)
Gray, John: Straw Dogs (Granta, 2003)
Grayling, A.C.: The Meaning of Things (Phoenix, 2007)
Hawking, Stephen W: A Brief History of Time (Transworld Publishers, 1988)
The Heart Sutra (trans. Red Pine) (Counterpoint, 2004)
Heilbroner, Robert: The Wordly Philosophers (Penguin, 2000)
Hitchens, Christopher: God Is Not Great (Atlantic, 2007)
Holloway, Richard: Godless Morality (Canongate, 2004)
Hospers, John: An Introduction to Philosophical Analysis (Routledge, 1997)
Huang-Po: The Zen Teaching of Huang-Po (trans. J.Blofeld) (Grove/Atlantic, 1958)
Hume, David: An Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals (edit. T.L. Beauchamp), (OUP, 1998, 2002)
Hume, David: An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding (edit. T.L. Beauchamp), (OUP, 1999)
Hunt, John: Bringing God Back to Earth (O books, 2003)
St. Ignatius: Spiritual Exercises (trans. L.J.Puhl) (Vintage, 2000)
Johnson, Spencer: Who Moved My Cheese (Vermilion, 1999)
Kant, Immanuel: Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics (trans. P. Carus/J.W. Ellington), (Hackett, 1977)
Kant, Immanuel: Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals (edit./trans. M. Gregor), (CUP, 1997, 2002)
The Koran (The Qur’an), (trans. N.J. Dawood), (Penguin, 1956, 1999)
Layard, Richard: Happiness (Penguin, 2006)
Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm: Philosophical Essays (edit./trans. R. Ariew/D. Garber), (Hackett, 1989)
Lewis, C.S.: Mere Christianity (HarperCollins, 2002)
Locke, John: Two Treatises of Government (edit. J. Goldie), (Everyman, 1924, 2003)
Locke, John: An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (edit. R. Woolhouse), (Penguin, 1997)
Lopez, Jr., Donald S: Buddhism, An Introduction and Guide (Penguin, 2001, 2002)
Machiavelli: The Prince (Penguin, 2003) / (trans. P.Bondanella) (OUP, 2008)
Magee, Bryan: Confessions of a Philosopher (Phoenix, 2008)
The Laws of Manu (trans. W. Doniger/B.K. Smith) (Penguin, 1991)
Martin, Paul: Making Happy People (Harper, 2006)
McGrath & McGrath: The Dawkins Delusion (SPCK, 2007)
Mill, J.S. & Bentham,J.: Utilitarianism and Other Essays (Penguin, 2004)
Montaigne, Michel de: The Essays (trans. M.A. Screech) (Penguin, 2004)
Musashi, Miyamoto: The Book of Five Rings (trans. T. Cleary) (Shambhala, 1994)
Pirsig, Robert: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (Vintage, 1999)
Patanjali: Yoga Sutras (edit./trans./annot. B.K.S. Iyengar) (Thorsons, 1966, 1996)
Plato: Five Dialogues (trans. G.M.A. Grube) (Hackett, 1981)
Plato: The Republic (trans. D. Lee) (Penguin, 1955, 1987)
Popper, Karl: The Open Society and its Enemies Volumes I & II (Routledge, 2002)
Rose, Steven: Lifelines (Penguin, 1997)
Rumi: The Masnavi Volumes I & II (OUP, 2008)
Rumi / Kapur, Kamla (edit./ttans.): Pilgrimage to Paradise (Penguin, 2009)
Russell, Bertrand: History of Western Philosophy (Routledge, 1946, 1999)
Russell, Bertrand: The Problems of Philosophy (OUP, 1912, 1980)
Schopenhauer, Arthur: The World as Will and Representation Volumes I & II (Dover, 2000)
Segal, Hannah: Dream, Phantasy and Art (Routledge, 1991)
Shah, Idries (Trans.): Thinkers of the East (Penguin, 1974)
Shah, Idries (edit./trans.): The Way of the Sufi (Octagon Press, 1968, 1980)
Shakespeare, William: All canonical plays, but especially: King Lear, Macbeth, Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet, Henry IV Parts I & II, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
The Gateless Barrier (edit. Z. Shibayama, trans. S. Kudo), (Shambhala, 1974, 2000)
Spinoza, Benedictus: Ethics (edit./trans. G.H.R. Parkinson), (OUP, 2000)
Suzuki, D.T: An Introduction to Zen Buddhism (Rider (Random House), 1949, 1991)
Suzuki, Shunryu: Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind (Weatherhill, 1970, 2005)
Swinburne, Richard: Is There a God? (OUP 2010)
Tolle, Eckhart: A New Earth (Penguin, 2005)
Tzu, Lao (Laozi): Tao Te Ching (trans. D.C. Lau) (Penguin, 1963) / (trans. S. Mitchell) (Kyle Cathie, 2000)
Upanishads (trans. P. Olivelle), (OUP, 1996, 1998) / (trans. J. Mascaro) (Penguin, 1965)
Vardy & Arliss, The Thinkers Guide to God (O books, 2003)
Vardy, Peter: The Puzzle of Evil (Fount, 1999)
Warburton, Nigel: Philosophy, The Basics (Routledge, 2004)
Ward, Keith: God A Guide for the Perplexed (OneWorld, 2002)
Ward, Keith: The Case for Religion (Oneworld, 2008)
Ward, Keith: Why There Almost Certainly is a God (Lion Hudson, 2008)
Wong Kiew Kit, The Complete Book of Zen (Vermillion, 2001)
Zen Lessons, The Art of Leadership (edit./trans. T. Cleary) (Shambhala, 1993)
Zen Flesh, Zen Bones (comp./trans. P. Reps/N. Senzaki) (Shambhala, 1994)