Self and Soul: A Defense of Ideals

Self and Soul: A Defense of Ideals

by Mark Edmundson


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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.

“An impassioned critique of Western society, a relentless assault on contemporary complacency, shallowness, competitiveness and self-regard…Throughout Self and Soul, Edmundson writes with a Thoreau-like incisiveness and fervor…[A] powerful, heartfelt book.”
—Michael Dirda, Washington Post

“[Edmundson’s] bold and ambitious new book is partly a demonstration of what a ‘real education’ in the humanities, inspired by the goal of ‘human transformation’ and devoted to taking writers seriously, might look like…[It] quietly sets out to challenge many educational pieties, most of the assumptions of recent literary studies—and his own chosen lifestyle.”
—Mathew Reisz, Times Higher Education

“Edmundson delivers a welcome championing of humanistic ways of thinking and living.”
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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674984004
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 07/02/2018
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 455,274
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Mark Edmundson is University Professor at the University of Virginia.

Table of Contents

Main Sources Cited in the Text ix

Polemical Introduction: The Triumph of Self 1

I Ancient Ideals

1 The Hero 19

2 The Saint 51

3 The Thinker 100

II Ideals in the Modern World

4 Shakespeare and the Early Modern Self 137

5 The Poet 185

6 Freud and the Ideal Self 217

Polemical Conclusion: In the Culture of the Counterfeit 247

Bibliography 261

Acknowledgments 279

Index 281

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