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Absence of Mind: The Dispelling of Inwardness from the Modern Myth of the Self (The Terry Lectures Series) Paperback – June 28, 2011
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More About the Author
She has also written four books of nonfiction, "When I Was a Child I Read Books," "Absence of Mind," "Mother Country" and "The Death of Adam." She teaches at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop.
She has been given honorary degrees from Brown University, the University of the South, Holy Cross, Notre Dame, Amherst, Skidmore, and Oxford University. She was also elected a fellow of Mansfield College, Oxford University.
Top Customer Reviews
What a great soul, great heart, and great mind this woman is. Frankly, it feels a little odd to be critiquing her in an Amazon review, yet here we are. Briefly, in these lectures, Mrs. Robinson takes on what she views as contemporary disregard for the soul, the felt life, the antiquities, and their importance to a balanced view of culture and history. In other words, she states a good case on behalf of just about anything that a quasi-empirical, western academia is attempting to marginalize, or failing that, simply choosing to ignore in order to justify the prescriptive, and often narrowly defined subtexts of "objectivity" and "skepticism" under which it labors. So that was a horrible sentence.
In other words, why can I not shake the feeling that it was only after hearing this lecture from Mrs. Robinson that Richard Dawkins stopped calling himself an atheist? Simply put: she addresses the odd, and mostly recent, inclination of academicians in the hard sciences to wander outside their areas of specialization to speculate on matters that don't fit their expertise. Biologists, resolute in their dedication to what is measurable, suddenly commenting on God. Linguists who chime in on 'delusional' people of faith, though the linguists don't seem to know anything about the context, culture, or the texts from which that faith is drawn.Read more ›
ABSENCE OF MIND: the Dispelling of Inwardness from the Modern Myth of the Self by Pulitzer prize-winning author Marilynne Robinson provides a thoughtful case helping to restore cultural balance. She coins parascience to describe the theories of "self-declared rationalists" spreading the gospel of "objectivity" to reduce people into objects. The reasoning of her polemic is acute as she vivisects arguments to sweep aside the cultural wonders of consciousness and the human mind. She ridicules "the assumption that humankind is itself fearful, irrational, deluded and self-deceived, excepting, of course these missionaries of enlightenment [the parascientists themselves]." Always brilliant, Robinson is at times ironic, at times laugh-aloud funny. Her wit, intelligence and incisiveness seriously contest the notion that those disguising themselves in the wool of science have any monopoly on reason, logic or truth.Read more ›
The work, published by Yale Press, consists of four loosely coupled essays, any one of which can stand alone, titled "On Human Nature," "The Strange History of Altruism," "The Freudian Self," and "Thinking Again."
In attempting to find a pithy phrase to convey the thrust of Robinson's work, I am of necessity reduced to oversimplification. Suffice it to say she agrees with the position which I believe has been stated repeatedly and effectively by Professor Seale, that science is only a tool which we use to chip away at the shadows, never an end or a solution in itself.
One of Robinson's paragraphs may replace Mark Twain's account of Tom whitewashing the fence as my favorite ever. From "Thinking Again:"
". . . What is man? One answer on offer is, An organism whose haunting questions perhaps ought not to be meaningful to the organ that generates them, lacking as it is in any means of "solving" them. Another answer might be, It is still too soon to tell. We might be the creature who brings life on this planet to an end, and we might be the creature who awakens to the privileges that inhere in our nature - selfhood, consciousness, even our biologically anomalous craving for "the truth" - and enjoys and enhances them. Mysteriously, neither possibility precludes the other. . . ."
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Although this small book Is only 176 pages, it felt like 1,760 of pure drudgery. Sadly, her simple, sincere message gets lost in agonizingly long, convoluted sentences and... Read morePublished 22 days ago by jclark211
As moving as it is convincing, Robinson's book takes issue with the less-than-scientific methods practiced by Freudian and neo-Darwinist theorists and with the absence of mind, or... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Aryeh Lederhendler
Before you swallow contemporary thinking about "how the world came into existence and the origins of man", read this!!!Published 7 months ago by Sue foster
Not an easy read, but thought provoking and worth the effort for those who are interested in the question of science and religion.Published 9 months ago by Terri
Very, very academic and philosophical. She presents a brilliant defense of the spiritual in our lives. Have your dictionary ready!Published 11 months ago by Marilu Cowan
This book is written with the most convoluted sentences that I have ever encountered. There are so many phrases in some sentences that by the time you get to the end you have... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Anthony G. Vickers
Ms. Robinson is obviously a very talented writer of fiction-very talented, indeed. I'm fully in her camp when it comes to the neoscientific age which we are experiencing that... Read morePublished 14 months ago by D. Hughes
The essence of Marilynne Robinson's thought is dazzling, and the ways in which she takes on the para scientific community helps sort out the morass of misinformation and assumption... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Rebecca Emlinger Roberts