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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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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 ›
O.K., then why only two stars? Ms. Robinson is at best an apprentice at the art of writing non-fiction. "Absence of Mind" is a murky text at best, replete with a lack of topic sentences but bursting with obfuscations: it is outright painful to read; the reader will be very thankful that the text is only 170+ pages long. Clarity is nowhere to be found. Here's the plot: Existence is more complex than die-hard rationalists would have us believe.
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
I'm sure there are many excellent thoughts and revelations included in this volume. However, the language, in my view, is unnecessarily obscure. Read morePublished 1 month ago by MN
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 6 months 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 12 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 12 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 14 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 16 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 17 months ago by Anthony G. Vickers
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 20 months ago by Rebecca Emlinger Roberts