Rather than cleaving contemporary intellectual foolishness to its historical roots, Thornton starts at those roots, advances from the crucial eighteenth century to the present, and concludes with case studies of three modern loci of falsehood--romantic environmentalism, the American Indian as ethical paragon, and goddess worship. The trouble all began with the Enlightenment assumption, founded on similar dispositions in classical Greek philosophy and scholastic Christianity, that knowledge bred virtue. Once a person knew the good, reason would compel realizing it, for humans are naturally inclined to goodness. Thereafter, romanticism demoted reason and preferred feeling but didn't dispute natural human goodness. Thus the stage was set for "if it feels good, it is good" as the highest ethical standard, and all three current follies that Thornton analyzes are rife with the sentimental indulgence, self-righteousness, and contempt for empirical evidence, especially about human behavior, that the feel-good ethic fosters. Thornton's exposition is complex, yet as he draws the thoughts and interpretations of an impressive array of social critics into his grand intellectual-historical argument, his prose never becomes obscure, though Al Gore, Vine Deloria, Carol Christ, and other targets of his criticism have reason to wish it had. Ray Olson --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
"Thornton does not mince words and he is not taking any intellectual prisoners." -- ForeWord --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.See all Editorial Reviews
I think Plagues of the Mind forces us to confront many of our cherished and stubborn assumptions about the human condition and our place in the scheme of things. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Anthony
This is one of the most important books of this century. The author joins Alan Bloom
who wrote one of the most important books of the last century.
I tend to agree with Bruce Thornton's criticisms of the three ideologies he examines: Romantic environmentalism, naive Indianism and puerile mother goddess-based feminism. Read morePublished on November 28, 2010 by Observer
Only 10 years old and it already seems outdated, this sort of peevish crankiness from spoiled academics complaining about the idiot conversations going on in their subsidized ivory... Read morePublished on May 13, 2010 by BG from TN
There are certain myths that people have believed in since ancient times such as the myth of the Noble Savage. In Greek times, the noble savages were Scythians. Read morePublished on September 2, 2008 by southpaw68
The author skillfully analyses commomly held opinions and builds ultimately convincing opposing arguments to them. This book does what it intends to do in a superb manner.Published on January 2, 2008 by R. A. Carlson
Very interesting book. It exposes several modern day myths for what they are--myths, and provides the scholarship and research to demonstrate the shaky foundations on which they... Read morePublished on January 26, 2007 by B. L. Lindley-anderson
I think this is a solid book, even if he goes overboard on occasion. He is at his best in challenging the cliches which pass for facts at many modern universities. Read morePublished on December 13, 2006 by Cornerstone
I loved reading all the literary allusions, and I loved the flow of language, but, ultimately, this book should be titled "Plaques of MY Mind". Dr. Read morePublished on October 22, 2006 by Dr. Betty