About the book

Dispirited: How Contemporary Spirituality Makes Us Stupid, Selfish and Unhappy is published by Zero Books



Dispirited argues that contemporary accounts of spirituality are a dead end for human potential, a threat to intellectual rigour, and opposed to social and political engagement. Rather than accept the “Spiritual, But Not Religious” response as the only alternative to either formal religion or egotistical, shallow consumerism, Dispirited argues for a post-spiritual response to the existential realities of life.

From the introduction:

My overall aspiration here is not merely, or at all really, to dispute the existence of a ‘spiritual’ component in the psycho-physical phenomena of human beings. Neither is it to rehearse increasingly tired, and tiring, arguments about a supposed clash between atheists, secularists and theists. What I find both more compelling, and more urgent, is the extent to which discourses of spirituality, from new-age ’Mind, Body and Spirit’ advocates, and to a minor extent from within established traditions who propagate an account of their own ‘contemporary spirituality’, are intellectually and culturally harmful. I would go further, and at the risk of sounding alarmist and bombastic, suggest that these discourses are a form of poison that taints not only critical and social realms, but also does violence to our potential to be authentic, happy(ish) and fulfilled human beings.

Refusing all inwardness and consolation, David Webster faces down spirituality’s guile in favour of a bleak atheism’s hints of a worthwhile life. Bracing, timely stuff!

Peter Manley Scott, University of Manchester

“Should be placed gently but firmly in the hands of any budding convert who thinks that the vacuous claims of a new spirituality are any better than the lies, evasions and hypocrisies of orthodox religion …”

Professor Christopher Norris, Distinguished Research Professor in Philosophy, Cardiff University

This is as close to a “must read” as it gets, for the religious as well as the spiritual reader, as well as for atheists.

Dr. Mikael Askander, Lund University, Sweden


Elsewhere on the internet:

Video Interview blog: http://philosvids.wordpress.com/

Course blog: http://www.r-p-e.blogspot.com

Twitter: @davidwebster 

29 thoughts on “About the book

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  5. When ever I hear someone say I can’t be spiritual without being religious I want to kick them where it counts. It’s just the most ridiculous notion….believe in supernatural nonsense to be spiritual….crap. I hope you make lots of money pandering like this….derp.

    1. If ‘spiritual’ has nothing to do with ‘supernatural’ – does that mean no ‘spirit’? If we have a spirit which is not a metaphor – that exceeds naturalism and is then ‘supernatural…

  6. Axepilot: I am not encouraging religiosity either! In the book I more fully argue that atheists need to move away from the idea of the ‘spiritual’ as the key way of addressing ethics, awe, etc..

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  8. RandomGuy#1

    This is intolerance. It is both dangerous and disrespectful. But then how can someone respect that which threatens their own beliefs? Belief being one of the strongest human forces. It can manifest reality, give hope to the hopeless, strength to the weak, and unite masses. Ethics are meerly how individuals precieve right and wrong. Athiesm being the freedom to do anything without restriction. Thus no morals or code of ethics. This is freedom at its rawest core. The inability to see this is in itself a restriction through a conditioning of morals and ethics pressed upon us through various sources. This book will be just what the world needs.. intolerance and misunderstanding. After all isn’t that what propogates us?

    1. Is it intolerance? Only in the broadest sense that tolerating a point of view that denigrates truth, or leads to solipsism, is surely problematic. The intolerance here is not me calling to ban anything – but rather an intellectual challenge and response. The ability to combatively debate, and to challenge views you don’t agree with : this is *part* of freedom, not a threat to it..

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  12. It was very difficult to choose from among so many excellent candidates, but this emerges as my favourite sentence in Dispirited:

    “Decorating your intellectual prison with leaves, twigs, berries and menstrual blood does not change its underlying purpose.” I look forward to borrowing this phrase and inserting various other decorative devices. (Full credit and suggestions to read the book will be given, of course.)

    Thanks for the book and this site – timely discoveries for me. I see you addressed the use of the word “energy” in a post; this is the New Age / MBS term that I find most annoying. I also wish certain people would learn to spell ‘atheist’ correctly, but that’s another rant.

    Again, thanks and I look forward to the ongoing conversation.

  13. Eun Mi

    It’s not traditional religion or “new-age” that bothers me per se, it’s the lack of critical thinking involved in such beliefs, and the resultant poor decision-making which disturbs me the most. I also agree that it robs people of the one and only chance they have to fully live life as it really is. I could go on, and on…

    I look forward to reading the book, and you could never be too grumpy for me.

    By any chance is the book is available in South Korea, or only online?

    1. Hi – thanks for the comment: hope you enjoy the book, and look forward to your response..

      I am, I’m afraid, wholly ignorant about its availability in South Korea- best bet may be a Kindle download, etc, from UK or USA amazon stores.. Good luck!

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