Self and Soul: A Defense of Ideals by Mark Edmundson

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Self and Soul: A Defense of Ideals Read Online Free - In a culture that has become progressively more skeptical and materialistic, the desires of the individual self stand supreme, Mark Edmundson says. We spare little thought for the great ideals that once gave life meaning and worth. Self and Soul is an impassioned effort to defend the values of the Soul.

Edmundson guides readers back to the ancient sources of the three great ideals: courage, contemplation, and compassion. Homer's Iliad presents two contrasting versions of the heroic ideal: Achilles, who risks everything to become the greatest of warriors, and Hector, who sacrifices his life to defend his people. Plato's quest is for timeless truth: he is the prime example of the authentic thinker, concentrating the ideal of contemplation. The third great ideal, compassion, is embodied by Jesus, the Buddha, and Confucius, who taught loving kindness, forgiveness, and forbearance in a world where such qualities are difficult and sometimes dangerous to espouse.

Shakespeare and Freud are the modern world's great enemies of these ideals, Edmundson argues. Shakespeare detests chivalry and has little time for faith and philosophy. Freud sees ideals as illusions that will inevitably betray us. But between them, a new ideal arises: imaginative creation, exemplified by Blake and Shelley.

Self and Soul is, as Edmundson provocatively writes, an attempt to resurrect Soul in the modern world.

Title : Self and Soul: A Defense of Ideals
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 0674088204
Edition Language : English
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 283 pages


Jsavett1 rated it ★★★★★

December 15, 2015

This is one of the most devastating books I've read. Edmundson is an English Professor at UVA. The book doubles as a polemic against the self absorption of our society and a literary analysis in which Edmundson shines. But don't be put off by the latter. You need not be an academic to enjoy this b...

Justin rated it ★★★★☆

June 22, 2017

A solid argument favoring the ideals of courage, compassion and contemplation over the pursuit of safety, security and entertainment. It uses Homer, Jesus and Socrates as ancient exemplars and compares them to "modern" thinkers Shakespeare and Freud, effectively dismantling the self-protecting ma...

Rob rated it ★★★☆☆

December 27, 2016

more of a 'lament for' rather than a 'defense of' - but still thoughtful and worthwhile

Douglas rated it ★★★☆☆

May 17, 2016

Mark Edmundson wrote an essay on the pleasure of cursing (‘On Shit: Profanity as Weltanschauung’) which I loved. Though I’m not personally given to cursing, I appreciate the skillful use of profanity by others (my wife can swear like a sailor). Having enjoyed that piece, and having read some revi...

Christopher rated it ★★☆☆☆

September 12, 2015

Professor Edmundson has written a polemical work: a fact he announces in his “Polemical Introduction” and confirms in his “Polemical Conclusion”. Not surprisingly, the book is polemical throughout. Edmundson's arguments, images, adjectives and characterizations are tilted so strongly that they re...

Jeremy rated it ★★★★☆

February 17, 2016

I'm not sure if Mark Edmundson actually makes compelling arguments in his books, or if I just naturally agree with him and delight in having someone build up an academic case around my existing beliefs. Either way, Edmundson rails against how our society has taken the great ideals and virtues of...

Seth rated it ★★★☆☆

February 08, 2016

Edmundson's book provides an historical and literary reading of the ideals by which men and women have lived their lives for hundreds of years. These ideals, he argues, are at the center of the purpose-driven life. Moreover, these ideals could not be further from the center of our current lives....

John rated it ★★★★☆

April 25, 2016

An unexpected gem. Ideals, in the sense used by the author, are those few heroic virtues (Soul) to which humans aspire. The heroic/Soul ideals include courage and honor (the Homeric warrior virtues); compassion/love (exemplified by Buddha, Jesus, Confucius); truth and thought (exemplified by Socr...

Paul rated it ★★★★★

April 10, 2016

I was engrossed in this book, intrigued by the theory it expressed, impressed with the reasoning that supported the theory, and in full agreement with its conclusions. The book is a serious indictment of current "middle class values," anode the fulness of life that we have sacrificed in order to p...

Tom rated it ★★★★☆

February 04, 2017

I heard Mark Edmundson discuss this book on the radio and was impressed by his message and the way he articulated it. His defense of Soul in a world dominated by Self was inspiring and resonated with the way I aspire live. My reaction to the chapters in the book varied. The chapters on courage (a...

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