What, Why, & How? By Robert Wheeler
Reviewed in the United States on March 4, 2022 by Marie Enright for Amazon.
The underlying theme of Dr. Wheeler’s book suggests that if the media, educators, leaders and politicians focused on our needs as humans to understand our origin, our purpose, and our need to develop further, this goal to facilitate a greater understanding of our world and why we are in it, would ameliorate discontent and depression among individuals and stimulate cooperation among nations instead of conflict and war. A timely read, indeed, as Russia has just invaded Ukraine and ignited what could become a war of great magnitude.
As a respected research psychologist and former soldier with years of life experience and a passion for his subject, Dr. Wheeler delves deeply in exploring answers to the deep questions and implores us to join him in this journey of going outside of our comfort zone. Although some of the chapters contain content that may be cerebral, the author breaks down difficult concepts and makes them understandable and relatable. Of particular note, Dr. Wheeler focuses on the inter-relationship between religion and science, and our apparent need for both. Those who were raised with religious ideology may recognize what he terms the “great paradox”, a need for faith and belief in a religious explanation for our existence that cannot be explained by science, and science that provides explanations and advances that undermine the foundations of religion.
Dr. Wheeler quotes, “although anything is possible, not everything is probable”. The “ontological imperative” or ultimate concern about the explanation of our existence, is explored thoroughly throughout the book, including research by physicists into the microcosm and macrocosm. Despite all the advances in science, much is still unknown. The author asserts that while possibilities exist, we must live in the world now as it presents itself while continuing to pursue knowledge, a concept he calls “pragmatic pluralism”. At the same time, we must be tolerant of alternate approaches. This tolerance is imperative if we as a society are to live together cooperatively and peacefully.
You may not find all the answers within the pages of this book, but it will make you think, it will make you question, it will facilitate conversations with others which will promote further the ideas within, and maybe it can be a catalyst to change, and lead to the author’s hope that the global problems of societies and the personal problems of individuals would be alleviated. Read it.
[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of “Climbing Higher” by Robert Wheeler.]
4 out of 4 stars
Climbing Higher by Robert Wheeler, Ph.D., is a speculative work combining philosophy, psychology, and anecdotes about mountain climbing as it relates to the need for human beings to realize what Dr. Wheeler refers to as “the ontological imperative.” Dr. Wheeler describes ontology as: “the branch of philosophy that studies reality at its most basic level, involving the meaning of existence and purpose of life.” In Climbing Higher, he attempts to provide evidence that the ontological imperative is “a personality trait innate to all thinking humans,” using mountain climbing as a metaphor for the human need to challenge oneself to reach for goals that may, on the surface, seem impossible.
Climbing Higher is not a self-help book, it is an academic examination of human psychology and the need to strive for experiences beyond the self and everyday troubles and concerns. The book examines the need for a belief in a transcendent force, even in a world that has come to see the idea of mysticism as quaint. Dr. Wheeler postulates an attitude of nognosticism, meaning that a person can believe in the possibility of a transcendent force while doubting the existence thereof. It is his theory that such an attitude has positive benefits for the human psyche.
The thing I liked best about the book was its novel presentation of the human need to find something of importance beyond our own daily lives. I resonated with the material presented in Climbing Higher and give the book an enthusiastic four out of four stars. It is not often that I, as an agnostic (or nognostic, as Dr. Wheeler suggests), find a book addressing the idea that there very well could be a higher power or powers, but we just don’t know. While I appreciate the works of some of the more liberal theistic thinkers and some of the more tolerant atheist philosophers, it is rare to find a book that closely aligns with my beliefs. Dr. Wheeler has given me that book, and I profoundly appreciate it.
The book was professionally edited. It has a few minor typos but nothing which would distract from the overall enjoyment of the thoughtful and well-executed text. The pictures of the mountains are striking. If Dr. Wheeler were to release a book of his photographs from his various adventures, I believe it would find an appreciative audience.
Climbing Higher is a good choice for those who are interested in the studies of philosophy and psychology. It would not be a good choice for someone seeking a fast-paced thriller. Although there was nothing that I really disliked about the book, some of the explanations about various personality tests and academic theories did bog down a bit for a layperson. Overall, however, the pace of the book flowed well. It is filled with fascinating and thought-provoking ideas
Reviewed by Daniel D Staats for Readers’ Favorite, 9/23/2021
Five out of five stars
Robert Wheeler states that the purpose of his book, What, Why, & How, is to encourage thinking outside the box and to seek the answers to life’s more profound questions. Robert is a life-long learner. He has spent his life questioning and seeking answers to the deep questions of life. Why do we exist? Why are we here now? What is our purpose? How do we improve the future? These are just some of the questions Robert has pondered on and has graciously shared his answers in his book. The search for meaning requires deep thinking and philosophy. This book explores what most people think of as two polar opposites: religion/spirituality and science. You may not reach solid conclusions to your questions, but you will be able to think deeply when you have finished this book.
In What, Why, & How, Robert Wheeler shares knowledge acquired from his military then psychology career. His wisdom also comes from simply living life. Robert’s life covers a broad swathe of time, and his book covers a wide swathe of knowledge and philosophy. His writing is simple yet complex at the same time. He simplifies complex concepts, and yet the reader still has to put in the effort to think. This book is much too short to be exhaustive of the subject, but it is a fantastic start in your journey to learn the whats, whys, and hows of life. The bottom line is that life is a long pursuit of answers. Robert shows readers how to think about the questions and seek new and better answers.
OnLineBookClub by Kike17 » 31 Oct 2021, 17:57
[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of “What, Why, & How?” by Robert Wheeler.] 4 out of 4 stars
Everyone has their personal beliefs about life. Yet, for many, the most important questions remain unanswered. One of these is why are we here? Many other questions are addressed in What, Why, & How?: Bottom-up Answers by Robert Wheeler.
This 113-paged book contains the author’s deep knowledge and experiences as a research psychologist. The book begins with an explanation of why we sometimes fail to ponder on the important questions of life. It goes on to analyze why it is beneficial to do so. It explains how past generations have endeavored to provide answers to these deep questions, and it also examines the involvement of faith and religion. The author did not fail to discuss the quantum theory and its relationship to future scientific discoveries. It also provides a detailed analysis of different positions on the issue of evolution and creation.
This book draws heavily on research from numerous, relevant books. Robert’s experience as a research psychologist stands out in this aspect. The sources of information found in the book appear in brackets throughout the book.
I would describe this book as balanced and reliable. In answering the deep question of what, why, and how of human existence, the author consistently makes it clear that he is not dogmatic. Words such as may, could, probably, and other similar words are found throughout the book. This is my most favorite feature of the book.
I also love the fact that the author was able to explain complex topics in understandable language. A sizable part of the book focuses on different aspects of philosophy and belief systems, which includes nognosticism, ontology, ecumenical humanism, pragmatic pluralism, and others.
As would be expected of a book explaining a complex topic, I find some parts of the book too technical and detailed. A quote from page 62 said, “We need naturalism to explain proximate local cause and we need supernaturalism to explain distal ultimate cause.” I had to work out the meaning on my own. This is my only dislike about this book.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. It is professionally edited and highly informative. The author has done much research to put this book together. It pulls information from modern-day sources as well as historical sources. While this book contains Bible quotations, it does not appear to be religiously biased. Readers who have an interest in psychology, philosophy, and the questions of life will find this book informative.