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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
This fascinating book provides a historical look at the expressions of human imagination and how ideas of reality have been shaped over time. Harpur (Daimonic Reality: A Field Guide to the Otherworld) examines a wide range of imaginary creatures and concepts, including those found in folklore and mythology, religion and philosophy, poetry and drama, spiritualism and psychology. He thoughtfully presents traditions from around the world and illustrates the cultural similarities and symbolic role each plays in society and for the individual. The author demonstrates that in modern times beliefs have moved away from explanations based on the supernatural toward an overreliance on scientific interpretations. However, he also shows that even scientific methods and models rely on the imagination and that new concepts of reality continue to be created. The book is scholarly in tone, presenting a wealth of literary allusions and erudite analysis. Recommended for larger public and academic libraries.
Eloise R. Hitchcock, Middle Tennessee State Univ. Lib., Murfreesboro
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
British writer Harpur, author of Daimonic Reality (1994), is a passionate explorer of the vast, varied, and vital Otherworld, the realm of spirit, soul, archetype, and the imagination, and he begins this fluent, wildly inclusive, and exponentially thought-provoking tour of the wellspring of myths (which by his bold definition include folktales, religion, and science) by introducing an assortment of the realm's magical denizens, beings who mediate between the human and the divine, such as fairies, jinn, and mythological heroes. But Harpur's main mission is to trace the course of Western civilization's effort to turn "the Otherworld into an intellectual abstraction," and relocate in our psyches what was for eons envisioned as an integral aspect of nature. A learned and holistic thinker, Harpur excavates the "root metaphors" in everything from shamans' dreams to Plato's concept of the soul of the world, the Kabbalah, Greek myths, Jungian psychology, and the theories of evolution and particle physics. Whatever readers may make of Harpur's intriguing, even daring interpretations, the truth that emerges is while myths change, the great mysteries remain the same. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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"Damonic Reality" is a survival guide for anyone aware of the anomalous events that pervade our lives. It is a Fortean necessity.
"The Philosophers' Secret Fire" is more fun and illuminating. It's a more difficult read but a lot more history and mythology is explained and deconstructed. A labor of love, it presents the Hermetic/Alchemic history of mankind in an interesting and usable fashion. "A guide to the Otherworld" was for our survival; "Secret Fire" is for our souls . Elegant in style and language, it is a worthy companion to Daimonic Reality.