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What is ONE book you think changed your world view?

I have a ton of favorite books but there is one book I recommend the most frequently. Tell me about that book for you and what it meant for you.

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    Jul 26 2011: The open book of mother nature making my views to evolve relentlessly.......
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      Jul 26 2011: Hitchens is a brilliantly well spoken author. God Is Not Great is sitting in my Amazon queue, just waiting for me to get around to ordering it.
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          Jul 27 2011: Your reply was not pompous, but elegant. I will move it to the top of my queue and order it soon.
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    Jul 26 2011: Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris.

    It did not change my worldview so much as refine it. His clear, concise points of the inherent problems of dogma have helped strengthen my humanist outlook on life.
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    Jul 26 2011: The Power of Myth by Joseph campbell changed me.
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    Jul 26 2011: Blink
  • Jul 25 2011: You asked a specific question...about changing worldview. Since that is such a drastic thing I would have to give two answers:

    Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin. We passed it around like some forbidden book within my circle of friends. Our parents would have killed us.

    The book on worldview that changed my worldview The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn. The real book that introduced the term "paradigm change" as the way of describing how we see the world.
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    Jul 25 2011: I'm going to cheat:

    The one book I recommend most regarding communication is: "Do I Have to Give Up Me to Be Loved by You" by Margaret and Jordan Paul.

    The one book I recommend most regarding diet is: "The China Study" by T. Colin Campbell.

    The one book I recommend most regarding "how the mind works" is: "I Am Right You Are Wrong" by Edward de Bono

    The one book I recommend most for fun is: The Lord of The Rings.

    The one book I recommend most regarding China is: "Selected Works of Deng Xiaoping" by Deng Xiaoping.

    The one book I recommend most regarding Christianity is: "The Gnostic Gospels" by Elaine Pagels.

    The one book I recommend most for understanding the Western paradigm of success* is: "The Seven Habits of HIghly Effective People" by Stephen R. Covey.

    The one book I recommend most for sheer beauty is: "The Prophet" by Kahlil Gibran.


    * I do not agree with how he defines success but to learn how to operate within the Western system, his book is hard to beat. EDIT: I do not think he would view his work as "Western." He sees his work as "universal" and based on principles that are ubiquitous. Which is, in itself, a very Western mindset. Many of the universal principles, aren't actually universal.
  • Jul 28 2011: I have been thoroughly enjoying everyone’s responses and a secondary benefit- a whole list of books to scope out in the bookstore! Keep em coming and thanks for responding!!

    Said earlier in this conversation was not being able to say a book changed your world view. Well, I guess I agree- that a book doesn’t really change your worldview, however, it can change the direction of your worldview- reframe things in a way that makes an impact.

    Multiple people have alluded to the difficulty pinpointing one single book that changed their worldview, that they were not going to ‘follow the rules’ per say. Truly being able to pinpoint one book when asked your favorite is impossible for me. The reason I was able to ask this question is because it is not hard for me to think of the ONE book I am able to say made my world view clear.

    Much like when I read Thomas Jones comment (all the way at the beginning of the conversation) I give personalized recommendations as well- my favorite on certain subjects.

    The book that I recommend most frequently, that I go back and read my underlined words most frequently is [The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho]. The reason that I end up recommending this most often is due to its ability to impact a persons life in their own personal way. If a person asks me what it is I just say it is a story about a boy who travels the desert. In order to fully respond to this post about what it did with my worldview was it aligned my personal belief that everything happens for a reason with a spiritual belief that everything is connected, things are put in our path that are supposed to be there. Coelho talks about 'the language of the universe', I loved the way that puts things into perspective for me.
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    Jul 28 2011: Autumn! This is a great topic. :)

    The one book that changed my world view, or rather, my attitude towards life, is The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne. As a "seeking" Christian, this book encouraged me not only to look deeper into my spirituality, but also to be an ordinary "radical," and take actions to really help and love the poor. Although I must admit that its reasonings are purely Bible-based, and being someone who's still searching, I cannot completely agree, the book provides beautiful examples of people that live for the purpose of serving and loving.
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      Jul 28 2011: As someone who thinks living for the purpose of serving and loving is independent from Christianity, or religiosity in general, this sounds like a book I should take a look at. I could learn something from its perspective.
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        Jul 28 2011: Hi Aaron! :)Well, I guess there can be many different reasons why people would be motivated to serve and love. It did provide some useful insights to Christian way of living though. Hope you find it useful in expanding your perspective! :D
    • Jul 31 2011: Eun A

      Thanks so much for your input! I would agree with your way of refining what world view means, as your attitude towards life.

      Shine Always! Autumn
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    Jul 26 2011: Supercooperators : altruism, evolution, and why we need each other to succeed

    Martin A. Nowak, with Roger Highfield.

    Nowak is a mathematician working in the field of evolutionary biology and he studies game theory especially Prisoner's Dilema.
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    Jul 25 2011: Hmmm, being able to answer this question would assume that one actually changed his world view. Since that is something rather radical, I don't think it is the norm, but rather an exception.
    I cannot even answer this question reformulating it to "what single book influenced your world views". One is exposed to so much information, that I think it's virtually impossible to form a world view based on 1 book.
    When I look back, there are many, many books covering as many disciplines that over the years formed my world view. And it's not even only books, but also interaction with other people, perceptions gained during travel, documentaries, real life experiences, etc. etc.
    It is also a work in progress. Information continues coming in and my world view of today might easily be another one in 5 years.
    • Jul 26 2011: Harald
      I think worldview change can be spontaneous. It can be brought about by the aha I understand moment. Yes, worldviews are deeply entrenched, but sometimes we do reach that point of saying "Now I see something new." The two books I mentioned below in my post, in their moment in my life did just that.

      Some worldview change is subtle and from many influences. I believe sometimes it just isn't that way. When something causes us to relfect on our shared stories, our practice, the symbols we evoke and use, or the basic questions of who we are, worldview can change.

      One book can do that I think.
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        Jul 26 2011: Hi Michael, I understand what you mean. What you say would be more an adjustment of your world view than a change.
        For me a change of worldview is something radical. For example, being a devote Christian, reading Richard Dawkin's "The selfish gene" and after that becoming an atheist.
        Adjustments of our world views probably happen constantly. Each time we learn something new it most likely influences in some way the way we understand our world.
        • Jul 26 2011: Yes we adjust it to compensate for "reality." But the example I gave about Kuhn and his book, it changed the way I view the basic stories and practice on history. I moved from a linear view of history tied to cause and effect, to a view that looked at worldview even as something learned. We all learn worldview from a myriad of sources. Change radical change can take place though in worldview. Your example is one.

          Adjusting and learning is one step, but when we say "I used to think the world operated like this, but now I know it is like this over here," there has been a shift.

          Have you ever read The Structure of Scientific Revolutions?
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        Jul 26 2011: Yes, in this sense our world view is always shifting around to some degree, although radical changes are probably rather rare.
        Nope, I didn't read the Structure of Scientific Revolutions. In what sense did it change your views ?
        • Jul 27 2011: Harald
          The thesis of Kuhn's book is that sceintific revolutions are not an incremental series of "progress", but are in fact revolutions, where people begin to see the phenomenal world through different eyes. For example in the "discovery of oxygen". Lavoisier saw something totally new, Priestly still always saw it as pure flogiston. (What they thought actually burned in anything). Priestly held to the old paradigm or model of the world, while Lavoirsier used a new paradigm to describe what he saw. Kuhn says that after these revolutions people actually "see" the world differently. He does conclude in his Posdata, that one of the ways he speaks about paradigms is in the worldview sense of the word.

          For me the book did this:
          There is no such thing as progress, there is change and we do change paradigms, but progress is a myth. What are we progressing towards and how will we know it when we get there?

          Worldview is key to understanding cultures and sub-cultures.

          Knowledge is not absolutely relative, but we do change what we know because we get a better description of it.

          The paradigms and mental models we hold as a result completely filter how we see the phenomenal world.

          More than any other book it helped me to understand how the cartesian world I grew up in was not a good description of how the world actually works.
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    Jul 25 2011: Kingdom of Fear by Hunter s. Thompson

    It allowed me to differentiate between self-driven and fear-driven decisions.
    ...and it made me laugh
    • Jul 26 2011: It is amazing how what an impact fear has on our lives. . . thanks for your answer!!
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    Jul 25 2011: The Grapes of Wrath.
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    Jul 25 2011: Without a doubt, the book that has impacted me most is "The Tao Te Ching." If there is divine wisdom in print, this book is certainly a part of it, in my estimation.
    • Jul 26 2011: I too believe that divine wisdom is found in bits and pieces of creative work- Much like what Amy Tan discusses in her TED talk.

      Thanks for sharing!
  • Jul 25 2011: I also am not going to answer correctly, Autumn. I can pinpoint a few titles that extremely altered my worldview. Apologies. However, I feel that you might have asked: If I were going to recommend every human read only one book, what would that book be?

    Integral Life Practice by Ken Wilber, Terry Patten, Adam Leonard & Marco Morelli

    - Strength on the journey, journey well.

    EDIT: Reread your underlying information.

    I would suggest that this book and the concepts presented within would have the most extensive beneficial expansive effect on any random individual perspective and consciousness. It's not necessarily that I agree with their entire worldview but their psychological armament is without compare.

    Wilber definitively succeeds in understanding the human mind, even if his distinctions might be tweaked.
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    Jul 25 2011: Although this was then I was 17 (not that I'm much older now [22]), I was very effected by 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance'. There are some very interesting ideas about reason and how some schools of though have become socially accepted. It made me question a lot. Maybe I would disagree with parts of it now.. I must re-read it!

    Maybe this one along with 'The Doors of Perception'.
  • Jul 25 2011: I think it has to be Parallel Universes by Fred Alan Wolf. I can't quite pinpoint which book I should choose but this book allowed me to get into the realms of Philosophy of Physics, Philosophy of Science, the Philosophies, and into theoretical Physics. I read some parts of that book in High School; never got to finish it.

    It introduced to me the various philosophical implications that Quantum Mechanics can have. Yes, there are many Physicists out there who would dismiss the philosophical pondering of QM, but I believe that one has to ponder the ramifications of the theory on our world view in order to fully understand it. Much of Theoretical Physics is stepping foot in a swampy marsh that is intersecting Physics and Metaphysics. So our modern day Theoretical Physicists are actually also "MetaPhysicians" as per the scientific method (if you can't test parallel universes it's metaphysics).
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    Jul 25 2011: Favorite book would have to be Fountainhead. It was a fascinating experience the first time I read that book. Rand provided a journey into the world of a man who she regarded as morally perfect. It sparked an admiration that developed and challenged my ideas and understanding of ethics and morality.