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This book argues that we have got it wrong in the West with our belief in a ‘self’ that is autonomous and separate from others, exemplified by the entrepreneurial self: always on, always positive and always self-improving. This is the neoliberal self, a particular creature of late capitalism. However, as argued here, this view is harmful to us. It is the source of much of our suffering.
Proposing as an antidote a Zen Buddhist account of the self, the book points to the possibility of true human liberation and a kinder world for all. In Zen, the self is not separate from others and our individual and collective suffering is intimately bound together.
The author, a social scientist and long-standing Zen practitioner, draws on both personal experience and scholarly insight to make her case. No prior knowledge of Buddhism or of neoliberal thought is required of the reader – just a willingness to let go of some preconceived ideas and a curiosity about a different way of being.
Eilís Ward was lecturer in the School of Political Science and Sociology, National University of Ireland, Galway.
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