The many problems we face in today's world -- among them war, environmental destruction, religious and racial intolerance, and inappropriate technologies -- demand that we carefully re-evaluate such issues as our relation to the environment, the nature of progress, ultimate purposes, and human values. These are all issues, Robert Carter explains, that are intimately linked to our perception of life's meaning. While many books discuss life's meaning either analytically or prescriptively, Carter addresses values and ways of meaningful living from a broader perspective, using Japanese philosophy to augment his investigation. He examines Martin Heidegger's distinction between "dwelling" and existing in the world, Lawrence Kohlberg's "stage seven" of human moral development, and the works of Viktor Frankl, Carol Gilligan, and Nel Noddings. He applies hermeneutic and deconstructionist theory to the question of meaning, and explores the feminist contribution to ethics and its relation to the interconnectedness of things celebrated in Zen and Shinto thought. Bridging various dichotomies such as East/West, reason/emotion, male/female, and caring/justice, Carter shows that ethics, environmental concern, caring, and joy in living are dependent on the growth and transformation of the self. Only by becoming aware of the interrelatedness of things, Carter reveals, can we become as supple and as strong as the bamboo tree, long the symbol of longevity and constancy.
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