A Return to Innocence: Philosophical Guidance in an Age of Cynicism

Jeffrey Schwartz, Author, Patrick Buckley, With, Annie Gottlieb, With ReganBooks $22 (300p) ISBN 978-0-06-039240-6
In a recent year not specified here, Schwartz (Brain Lock), an associate research professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, was asked by a single mother to correspond with her son, Patrick Buckley, at boarding school in order to give the boy the benefit of the influence of a ""successful adult male."" The result is contained in this epistolary primer on how to live the good life. Letters, mostly brief, from the boy, Patrick, are surrounded by Schwartz's letters to the boy, presenting lessons derived from the older man's study of psychiatry and religion (mostly Christianity and Buddhism), with a bit of poetry (Yeats and Eliot) and Western philosophy (Heraclitus, Hume, Adam Smith) included. The author offers some valuable instruction in brain structure and function in Buddhist philosophies and practices such as meditation and the watching of thoughts (""making mental notes"") and in such universal truths as that ""actions have consequences."" Schwartz offers a compassionate attitude and much good advice, but he too often strays into easy criticisms of ""modern society,"" and he seems quick to generalize, often in a negative way: ""the core beliefs of materialistic science have saturated our whole culture""; ""Ever since the Sixties, the knee-jerk attitude of American culture has been, `If an authority figure says it, reject it'""). Schwartz offers a sound blueprint for helping teens grow into thoughtful adults who are able to make sound moral judgments, but he nearly buries that blueprint beneath his opinionating. Illustrations throughout. Major national ad/promo. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 12/01/1970
Release date: 10/01/1998
Genre: Nonfiction
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