False hope can be dangerous, personally and politically. After centuries of utopian dreams and “scientific” understandings, I find it hard to believe that we can transform the world. I approached Peter Gabel’s important book with some skepticism. Show me that we can change the world. Persuade me that a spiritual outlook, “another way of seeing,” can be powerful enough to regenerate our social institutions.

Gabel’s intent in this collection of essays and occasional pieces is to shift our attention from the material world to the spiritual dimension of social life. He hopes to show that this spiritual engagement can be a main shaping influence on society. It is a big claim, and he pursues it with zeal and conviction: “Human beings actually exist in a psycho-spiritual world in which they seek not primarily food, shelter, or the satisfaction of material needs, but rather the...

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