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Sobering Wisdom

Philosophical Explorations of Twelve Step Spirituality
Edited by Jerome A. Miller and Nicholas Plants

BUY Cloth · 264 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813936529 · $59.50 · Dec 2014
BUY Paper · 264 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813936536 · $22.50 · Dec 2014
BUY Ebook · 264 pp. · ISBN 9780813936543 · $22.50 · Dec 2014

Originally developed by Alcoholics Anonymous, the Twelve Step program now provides life direction for the millions of people worldwide who are recovering from addiction and undergoing profound personal transformation. Yet thus far it has received surprisingly little attention from philosophers, despite the fact that, like philosophy, the program addresses all-important questions regarding how we ought to live. In Sobering Wisdom, Jerome A. Miller and Nicholas Plants offer a unique approach to the Twelve Step program by exploring its spirituality from a philosophical point of view.

Drawing on a variety of thinkers from Aristotle to William James and from Nietzsche to Foucault, as well as a diverse range of philosophical perspectives including naturalism, Buddhism, existentialism, Confucianism, pragmatism, and phenomenology, the contributors to this volume address such questions as the relation of personal responsibility to an acknowledgment of powerlessness, the existence of a "higher power," and the role of virtue in recovery. Ranging in tone from deeply scholarly to intensely personal, their essays are written in an accessible way for a broad audience that includes not only philosophers, theologians, and psychologists but also spiritual directors, health professionals, and addiction counselors. Perhaps most important, the book is also conceived for those involved in Twelve Step programs whose lives are being transformed by the experience.


There are very few works that grapple with addiction and recovery from philosophical perspectives. There are even fewer when it comes to philosophy and the spirituality of the Twelve Steps. I believe this book will do a great deal to fill this void. I would recommend it to my friends who struggle with spirituality and recovery or who seek a deeper understanding. I would also recommend it to people who are wary of the Christian God-language of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Peg O’Connor, Gustavus Adolphus College, author of the blog "Philosophy Stirred, Not Shaken: Insights on Addiction and Philosophy" for Psychology Today

Sobering Wisdom is the first book to examine the Twelve Step program through the lens of philosophers. The scholarship across the board is sound, and the essays gathered here add great value to the discussion of an intrinsically worthwhile topic.

Frank Seeburger, Professor Emeritus, University of Denver, author of Addiction and Responsibility

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