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The Inner Philosopher: Conversations on Philosophy’s Transformative Power
with Lou Marinoff

The Inner Philosopher
Pub. Year



Dialogue Path Press



The Inner Philosopher: Conversations on Philosophy’s Transformative Power, a thought-provoking dialogue between Lou Marinoff and Daisaku Ikeda, revitalizes philosophy as an accessible source of wisdom and courage for our everyday lives. Both authors believe in the inherent strength of people to transform their lives and the world through the power of philosophy. As Ikeda states: "Great efforts and great achievements are possible precisely when big questions are asked." (p. 11) Philosophical dialogue, Marinoff asserts, unfetters people’s courage to confront their problems and "awakens their philosopher within." (p. 30)

As a practicing philosophical counselor, Marinoff points out that everyone worries, suffers and feels disturbed at times, but in today’s diagnostic culture the way people deal with their issues has evolved to focus heavily on external solutions such as psychiatry and drugs. The goal of a philosophical practitioner, he explains, is to awaken people to a better concept of living and empower them to confront their issues by manifesting their inner strengths.

Drawing on his insight as a Buddhist philosopher and leader, Ikeda shares a similar perspective. "Consciously or unconsciously, everyone is seeking meaning and fulfillment in life," Ikeda states. "But no matter how hard one tries, these qualities cannot be found outside oneself. This is because the key lies only within." (p. 7) Our happiness and worth as a human being is not determined by our external circumstances, he explains. This is why the aim of Buddhism is the attainment of a strong, unshakable state of life that transforms ignorance and earthly desires into wisdom or enlightenment.

At the beginning of their dialogue Marinoff shares with Ikeda: "Our challenge is to reclaim philosophy from the hands of the pure theoreticians—whose cogitations are abundant but whose applications are scarce—and return it to ordinary people." (p. 2) Over the course of their conversations ranging from such topics as life and death, the arts and the human spirit, and the nature of healing, Marinoff and Ikeda endeavor to make philosophy accessible to all by exemplifying the practical and relevant application of philosophy for revitalizing our lives. Ikeda concludes: "I believe the philosophical renaissance we have been talking about consists in allowing the sun, the power of life, within each individual to shine forth in full radiance. That’s the light source for illuminating the future." (p. 69)

Lou Marinoff and Daisaku Ikeda first met in Tokyo in February 2003, and on their second meeting, in March 2007, they agreed to collaborate on a dialogue. Their discussions were originally serialized in Pumpkin, a Japanese women’s magazine, from June 2008 to October 2009, which resulted in the book, Tetsugaku runesansu no taiwa (Dialogue on a Renaissance in Philosophy), published in Japanese in 2011. The English language edition, The Inner Philosopher, was published by Dialogue Path Press in September 2012 and includes numerous updates and additions.


  1. Philosophy Begins With Questioning
  2. Gratitude to Our Parents
  3. Calling Forth the "Inner Philosopher"
  4. The Source of Robust Optimism
  5. Recovering Purpose and Connection
  6. All Are Worthy of Respect
  7. The Nature of Healing
  8. Healing the Wounds of Arbitrary Division
  9. The Healing Power of Dialogue
  10. Dialogue for Peace and Humanism
  11. Ancient Questions, Timeless Wisdom
  12. On the Practice of Virtue
  13. The Arts and the Human Spirit
  14. Life and Death Are Not Separate
  15. Women and the Building of Peace Cultures
  16. To Relieve Suffering and Impart Joy

Appendix 1. Selected Works—Daisaku Ikeda
Appendix 2. Selected Works—Lou Marinoff
About the Authors


"These sparkling and engaging conversations make a compelling case for the importance of philosophy in our lives and in our world. Daisaku Ikeda and Lou Marinoff are ideal guides to the nature and function of wisdom, from the times of the ancients through the challenges we all face now. This is a book that should be read by leaders, teachers, students, and adults of all ages."
— Tom Morris, author of Philosophy for Dummies, If Aristotle Ran General Motors, and If Harry Potter Ran General Electric

"In this exhilarating dialogue Daisaku Ikeda and Lou Marinoff demonstrate the enormous power of practical, engaged philosophy. They inspire their readers to break the bonds of authority in order to develop their own inner resources – to embrace even the most difficult of life's questions with intellectual and emotional honesty, courage, discipline, and generosity. "
— Larry A. Hickman, Center for Dewey Studies, Southern Illinois University Carbondale

"These conversations between Lou Marinoff and Daisaku Ikeda are rife with simple sentences that articulate shimmering complexities that light up the mind and move the reader to the contemplative reflection that is the medium of philosophy…

"We are instructed that philosophy begins with questions, a point congenial to peace educators who embrace critical pedagogy as a means through which to guide students toward what Daisaku Ikeda refers to as creating value; echoing what the educators see as peace building."
— Betty A. Reardon, Founding Director Emerita, International Institute on Peace Education

"In this day and age, when uncertainty reigns along with various other dictates that challenge all aspects of human endeavor, it is essential that The Inner Philosopher become a part of world literature and world dialogue. The content within takes one to the front lines of life’s grand adventure of the enigmatic human condition, and further on to an open and revealing dialogue, unraveling the mystery of "us."
— Wayne Shorter, jazz composer and saxophonist, nine-time Grammy Award Recipient, and National Endowment of the Arts Jazz Master

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