From Publishers Weekly
Robinson's new nonfiction work is drawn from her 2009 Terry lectures at Yale. More precisely, they are "lectures on religion in the light of science and philosophy." The charge is ambitious, and Robinson brings to the task a suitably wide-ranging perspective. She takes aim at the modern scholarly propensity to debunk, a practice she calls "flawed learnedness." It pitches out the babies of human insight with the bathwater of the past, preferring what she calls "parascience," a kind of pseudoscience that prizes certainty. This "parascience" is a latecomer in human thought, the product of only the last 150 years or so. Because it closes off questions, it's not even scientific. Nor does it allow space for the human mind and all the mind has produced in history and civilization. This is heady stuff that will particularly appeal to those familiar with the history of ideas and the many thinkers she cites, and to anyone willing to ponder broadly and humanistically about imponderable matters. Those who savor Robinson's clear prose will also be gratified; her mind, in thought, is elegant.
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"'Robinson makes the case with exceptional elegance and authority - the authority not only of one of the unmistakably great novelists of the age but of a clear and logical mind that is wholly intolerant of intellectual cliche... This book has a greater density (and sophistication) of argument than many three times its length; but it is one of the most significant contributions yet to the current quarrels about faith, science and rationality.' (Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, Daily Telegraph) 'I'm enjoying arguing and agreeing with Marilynne Robinson's Absence of Mind.' (Zadie Smith, The Observer) 'Robinson's argument is prophetic, profound, eloquent, succinct, powerful and timely.' (Karen Armstrong, The Guardian) 'I have barely scratched the surface of this dense and yet endlessly entertaining little book. Marilynne Robinson is herself the best evidence of her own thesis - the exceptional mystery of the human mind'. (Bryan Appleyard, Literary Review) 'I enjoyed reading Absence of Mind. The reason: it is always a pleasure to keep company with a person who takes ideas seriously.' (Siri Hustvedt, Financial Times) 'Robinson is one of the greatest Christian thinkers alive today... Absence of Mind is a slim but compelling volume.' (Luke Coppen, Catholic Herald)"