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History, Guilt and Habit 2nd Edition

3.4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1597311083
ISBN-10: 1597311081
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Owen Barfield (1898 1997), the British philosopher and critic, has been called the First and Last Inkling, because of his influence and enduring role in the group known as the Oxford Inklings. The Inklings included C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Charles Williams. It was Barfield who first advanced the ideas about language, myth, and belief that became identified with the thinking and art of the Inklings. He is the author of numerous books, including "Poetic Diction: A Study in Meaning; Romanticism Comes of Age; Unancestoral Voice; History in English Words;" and "Worlds Apart: A Dialogue of the 1960s." His history of the evolution of human consciousness, "Saving the Appearances: A Study in Idolatry, " achieved a place in the list of the 100 Best Spiritual Books of the Century. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: The Barfield Press; 2 edition (October 30, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597311081
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597311083
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,528,676 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A book of Christian anthropology from a British philosopher of the early 20th century. Barfield was an original thinker and intelligent person, but his theories skew abstract and sometimes appear to prefigure New Age trends. Not my cup of tea, but some might enjoy it, particularly fans of this author.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This short collection of only three essay, speeches rather, from the venerable Owen Barfield is a mediocre example of the works he produced. The introduction states that many of the ideas he produced here are expansions to his previous essays and books, and having read them I concur.

This book is worth picking up to freshen up ideas of consciousness and language relations, certainly not for setting a foundation for which I would suggest Poetic Diction, hands down.

The real gem in this collection, though, is the final chapter about creating new habits and society given understanding played out in the two previous chapters. An encouraging word for those who wish to proceed with an enlightened life.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've used this book for several years in history courses to introduce Barfield's ideas. As a later, condensed version of his thinking, it pays off big. Yes, if you're taken with these ideas, you should read Poetic Diction and my favorite, Saving the Appearances. But History, Guilt & Habit summarizes important ideas in clear and direct language, without the strangeness of "alpha thinking" and other Barfieldian terms that pepper some of his other works. Because the chapters in this book were transcribed from lectures, it has a direct and conversational tone that makes it accessible in a way that longer works may not be. As an introduction to Barfield's thinking, this is as good as it gets.
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Format: Paperback
"History, Guilt and Habit" contains four short essays by Owen Barfield, a British supporter of Rudolf Steiner's Anthroposophy often regarded as an interesting philosopher in his own right. Barfield is otherwise most known for being a friend of C.S. Lewis and Tolkien. Three of the essays are based on lectures held in Vancouver, the fourth on a lecture in California. As usual, Barfield talks about the evolution of consciousness, the development of language and the inability of materialism to explain these things. Not bad, but only a teaser trailer!

Those seriously interested in Barfield can't stop here, but most continue with "Saving the Appearences", "The Rediscovery of Meaning" and "Poetic Diction". Personally, I find Barfield hard to follow and even harder to swallow (his mentor Steiner is even worse!), but he *is* interesting. For a relatively readable introduction to Barfield, see "Romantic Religion" by R.J. Reilly.

Since "History, Guilt and Habit" might perhaps work as a sneak peak, I will give it three stars, but as I said, you can't really stop here...
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Format: Paperback
This book - rather, booklet(less than 100 pages with big print and wide margins) - adds little to what can be gleaned from Barfield's major works.
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