Review of “Human Understanding: An Engineer’s Analysis of Life, Getting to the Basics”

Barbara Bamberger Scott

“That which is loving and caring is good and will make us feel better about ourselves and bring inner happiness.”

An engineer carefully constructs a view of life’s meaning and purpose, using techniques learned in his professional experience to elucidate a personal path. Author Brust began his lengthy search for human understanding after a tragedy: his son died, causing him to reexamine all of his assumptions about how best to live. His analysis covers four areas. “How We Function Mentally” explores what is mind, how we learn, and the role of spirituality—”living for a purpose beyond self.” “Concepts in Reality” is a look at thought and consciousness. “Related Considerations” include such thorny details of daily living as anger, stress, forgiveness, health, nutrition, and exercise. “The Path to Fulfillment” includes the author’s catalog of the basics referenced in his subtitle: the existence of a Higher Power, virtue and vice, and the reality of a consciousness that recognizes both and which survives beyond death.

Brust is a nationally noted structural engineer who describes the process of organizing the concepts for this book as being similar to the requirements for his work in engineering. He has gathered all the necessary components and demonstrates how each one fits with the rest to provide a final template for putting ideas into action. This rational, logical methodology, including neatly composed endnotes for further reference, is balanced by the work’s heart quality. There is warmth and accessibility throughout Brust’s dense text, along with the expression of a genuine wish to share his ideas without “selling” or “pushing” them. Thus, no single religious or psychological system is promulgated, leaving readers to make individually weighted decisions as to how to utilize the material given. Brust’s book could provide help and hope to those seeking information on self-actualization, spirituality, and personal growth that is sensible, sensitive, and not agenda-driven.

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