Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
Lives of the Mind: The Use and Abuse of Intelligence from Hegel to Wodehouse Paperback – June 17, 2003
See the Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
If you’re the author, publisher, or rights holder of this book, let ACX help you produce the audiobook.Learn more.
Top Customer Reviews
I enjoyed this book a great deal. Kimball is an excellent writer and all of the essays are well written and lively. Because many of the essays are book reviews, the essays actually provide handy introductions to certain thinkers. The essays on Schopenhauer and Descartes are a good mix of biographical background and philosophical explanation. There is also an enjoyable introduction to David Stove, an Australian philosopher that Kimball helped introduce to the American public when he edited a collection of his essays a few years back (called AGAINST THE IDOLS OF THE AGE).
Kimball is one of the few men who recognized the cultural calamity from its beginnings. His Tenured Radicals was one of the first publications to identify and showcase the current bizarre practices in our universities. It came out over a decade ago and, since that time, he has written numerous books that examine the major figures and trends within literature, art, philosophy, history, and political science. Unlike the rest of us, Kimball has the ability to specialize in the liberal arts on the whole.
Even though it lacks the earth-shattering power of The Long March; Lives of the Mind is an exquisite endeavor.
The book showcases 18 "minds" or intellectuals and its theme is that "intelligence, like fire, is a power that is neither good nor bad in itself but rather takes its virtue, its moral coloring from its application." Although, no chapter is assigned for him in the text, Karl Marx would be the perfect example of the misapplication of intelligence. Hegel and Wittgenstein, who both receive treatment in Lives of the Mind, would be two others.
All of the 18 essays originally appeared in The New Criterion, and, as I have a subscription to the excellent journal, it was my second chance to read many of them. My favorites involved Plutarch, P.G. Wodehouse, and George Santayana. Yet, all of them have value as they inform us of lives and works of writers who are rarely discussed within the current Kultursmog.Read more ›
All the essays in this volume exhibit identical elements: 1) an elegant, lucid, and vigorous style that carries the reader smoothly into, and through, the subject; 2) command of the writings of the author under consideration; 3) mastery of a wide range of the best biographical and critical material; 4) an extended examination of some recent work; 5) a structure which binds all the elements seamlessly together; 6) evaluations that excite an interest in further exploration OR clarify the reader's predilections OR summarize in a cogent manner the reader's pre-existing distaste OR justify the reader's disinclination to waste his time on some over-rated windsock.
It is my considered judgement--founded upon prayer and long hours of solitary meditation--that any reader who fails to find these essays interesting should consider confining his future intellecutal explorations to the pages of the TV Guide.
The book is not pointless. It is frustrating.
I found the essays wandering and vague. In every instance, I would suggest reading the author being discussed. That may seem like common sense, but when you are reading a 4-10 page essay, you want illumination, percipient discussion, the trenchant and focused portion of the larger argument. In too many of these essays, there was a sense that the author just wandered over to his book shelf to pull down a volume of his favorite writers (to praise) or his least favorite (to flame).
The result is not a waste of time. The book educates and discusses, and unless the reader is a complete omnivore, there are undiscovered writers and works to be introduced to... I just did not think that the book paid off it's promise.
Also, there is a colloquial style that is off-outing. "Good stuff, no?" "Each of us, probably, has a dozen or so caricatures by Daumier in his head:"... This may be a magazine writer's off-hand guys around a bar writing style, pretentious and annoying, but when dropped into a book the result is unserious.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is a collection of essays about various literary or otherwise important personages, some better known like Hegel or Wittgenstein, and some not very well known, like... Read morePublished on April 13, 2011 by bronx book nerd
Well, this is a book from Roger Kimball -- so of course it's worth reading. Beware, however: this particular volume is written on the level of graduate seminars; it is most... Read morePublished on January 19, 2010 by Geoff Puterbaugh
I gave this reading 3 stars because of my expectations. I bought this book for the subtitle "The use and abuse of intelligence" thinking that it would talk further about logical... Read morePublished on November 23, 2009 by 1000Books
Those unfamiliar with Kimball's work will be surprised to find out that essays which explore the intellectual and moral lives of various century-old writers and philosophers can... Read morePublished on September 30, 2004 by Stephen Coulon
Kimball's essays evoke memories of classroom disputes over philsophy. Classical philosophers seemed so self-focussed that attempts to translate them into a global human framework... Read morePublished on June 24, 2003 by Stephen A. Haines
I enjoyed this book very much. I purchased it after reading a review by Stephen Barbara, writing in the Weekly Standard, who wrote: "'Lives of the Mind' is a work of generous... Read morePublished on April 30, 2003 by Maxwell Edison
The use and abuse of intelligence is covered in Lives Of The Mind, a lively and highly recommended discourse blending philosophy, psychology, science and social criticism. Read morePublished on February 9, 2003 by Midwest Book Review
Yesterday I wrote a review of this book in which I treated it as a book on this topic might expect to be treated, if everyone was always in good humor. Read morePublished on January 8, 2003 by Bruce P. Barten
This book is smart and well educated, but not quite scholarly. There are very few notes, no bibliography, but some books are listed under their author's names in the index. Read morePublished on January 7, 2003 by Bruce P. Barten