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The Philosopher's Secret Fire: A History of the Imagination Hardcover – November 4, 2002
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From Library Journal
Eloise R. Hitchcock, Middle Tennessee State Univ. Lib., Murfreesboro
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
More About the Author
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Harpur, who lives in Dorchester, England, is the author of The Timetable of Technology (1982); Mercurius; or The Marriage of Heaven and Earth (1990); and Daimonic Activity: A Field Guide to the Otherworld (1994).
In The Philosophers' Secret Fire, Harpur revisits "the Otherworld," a realm of imagination--of mythology and folklore, metaphor and analogy, spirit and soul. It is a world celebrated by Plato and neo-Platonists; by shamans and soothsayers; by alchemists and magi; by mystics (Jacob Boehme and St. John of the Cross); by Romantic poets (William Blake, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and W. B. Yeats); and by the psychologist C. G. Jung.
The burden of Harpur's message is that modern man has lost his soul. The spiritual hubris of his literalism, materialism, rationalism, and scientism has separated him not only from his own "soul, but also from Nature and from the "World Soul," which permeates the cosmos and which, in a pantheistic sense, is the cosmos.
Two of the Synoptic Gospels record "The Parable of the Haunted House" (Matthew 12:43-45; Luke 11:24-26): "When an evil spirit leaves a person, it goes into the desert, seeking rest but finding none. So it returns and finds that its former home swept and clean, but empty. Then the spirit finds seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they all enter the person and live there. And so that person is worse off than before.Read more ›
Beginning with Plato and moving through the Neoplatonists, Christian mystics, Renaissance High Magicians, alchemists, Enlightenment scientists and philosophers, Romantic poets, and 20th century depth psychologists, Harpur lays down an extremely complex argument in the simplest of language.
Plotinus is here, as are Heraclitus, Cornelius Agrippa, Jacob Boehme, John Dee, Paracelsus, Copernicus, Immanuel Kant, Isaac Newton, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Charles Darwin, William Butler Yeats, and Carl Jung, among several dozen others.Read more ›
This book is a continuation of the ideas explored in the author's previous masterpiece, _Daemonic Reality_. It examines the "Otherworld", the Anima Mundi, or soul of the world. This is the larger Reality that was accepted by all traditional cultures, but which is now rejected, suppressed, and ignored by Western man. Yet, just because it is ignored doesn't mean that it doesn't exist- and doesn't make itself felt in our lives.
While _Daemonic Reality_ emphasized the modern phenomena that seem to represent "break-outs" from the otherworld (UFO's, crypto zoological species, Marian apparitions, angels, etc.), this volume goes into more historical and philosophical depth. It is a round about approach, but then it almost has to be for such a complex and unusual subject. Modern language and mindsets are simply inadequate for the purpose. Indeed, the book appropriately mirrors a hermetic labyrinth in its approach.
Yet debunking the hyper-rational and ultra-materialistic world of modern scientism isn't the foremost objective here. The author is primarily trying to give us some sense of the mind-set of traditional man, of a supernatural world that existed in close communion with the natural world and human society. Our western religious and scientific tradition has driven a wedge between us and both nature and heaven. This is an alien and unbalanced state for a person, or a society. This seems to be why the old immortal daemons periodically break through the veil into our false, shallow, consensus reality. They are trying to awaken us.
Yes, we are truly initiated by what we cannot control....
Most Recent Customer Reviews
For me, this book was a game-changer. Fascinating, scholarly, soulful.Published 9 months ago by Diane
Brilliant! Harpur's grasp of the subject is frankly enviable. He brings together ideas, thoughts, philosophies in one work that would take years to sift through and find on one 's... Read morePublished on August 29, 2013 by astrid
This book is hard to classify or to decipher: how serious is it? Does the author truly believes everything he says, or is it an ingenious provocation, a pretext for an inquiry into... Read morePublished on June 18, 2013 by Guillermo Maynez
Years ago I read Harpur's Daimonic Reality, his effort to give greater weight to the possibly real existence of the multivarious accounts of the highly diverse varieties of... Read morePublished on January 10, 2011 by Leslie Evans
This book captivated me already from the text on the back cover (Spanish edition) making a metaphor of the hermetic truth as revealed in closing circles as if seen through a prism... Read morePublished on August 13, 2008 by A. Panda
This book takes the concepts Harpur discussed in Daimonic Reality and extends them further, exaining how the other world intersects with everyday reality through myth, imagination,... Read morePublished on April 11, 2007 by Taylor Ellwood
This history of the imagination blends insights on myth, folklore and philosophy alike, tackling issues of imagination and unconscious insight to consider how beliefs in the... Read morePublished on May 15, 2003 by Midwest Book Review
Patrick Harpur has been a household icon since the introduction of "Daimonic Reality" in 1994. Read morePublished on April 19, 2003 by James Boyd