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Flesh in the Age of Reason: The Modern Foundations of Body and Soul Hardcover – 20 Jan 2004

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 660 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Co.; 1st American Ed edition (20 Jan. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393050750
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393050752
  • Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 16.4 x 3.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 670,436 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By D. G. Findlay on 4 Jun. 2006
Format: Paperback
This is without doubt one of the best history books I have ever had the pleasure to read. It is witty ,erudite, voluminous and entertaining. It covers a vast area of human, medical and enlightenment history, often diverting the reader to think of Porter's equally magnificent book on the enlightenment.

It is a tragedy that Dr Porter passed away before the publication of this book and deprived him of the satisfaction of seeing the reception this book received. His early death has also deprived us one of our finest historical minds.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By D. Brady on 5 April 2011
Format: Paperback
Porter has such an effortless style and clarity that brings to life the development of Enlightenment considerations about the nature of man - the ways he has come to think of himself from the religious, through the philosophies of Hobbes, Locke, Descartes and Hume to the fabulous 'scientific' -flesh incarnate- myths of Erasmus Darwin and beyond.

His depiction of the medical professions' ambivalent positions with regard to drugs ought to be a set text in every medical school undergraduate curriculum; no doctor ought to be allowed to prescribe anything without thinking about this astonishing account.

A humorous and erudite pursuit of how we have arrived at our current magnificently fallacious ideas and beliefs about ourselves.
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By CultureDrinker on 23 July 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Much pleasure can be derived, for anyone initiated and curious enough, in tracing the source of things. Here, we are concerned with the sources of contemporary scientific, rational thought. Or rather thinking about thought scientifically and rationally. How did we come to think, refer and talk about brain, the "mind", the body, the "flesh"-essentially ourselves- in the philosophical vocabulary and dialectical context like now? The answer, for those familiar with Roy Porter's ouevre,was in the European Enlightenment: the diffuse century-long intellectual movement where dialectics, politics, humanities, economics, medicine, science, linguistics, art, literature and all major spheres of human knowledge were retrieved from the dungeons of religion and replaced by models alight with reason, method, causality and critique.

Here we have Porter, Britain's go-to historian for everything Enlightenment-related, who in his endearing enthusiasm, holds his reader's fingers and takes you down the alleyways of British Enlightenment, knocking on the door of every iconoclast on the way and distilling their philosophical discourses for you. He had hinted he would do this in his earlier book: Enlightenment (a magnificent, authoritative history that is as compulsive a read as this one) and he rises to the occasion beautifully. For starters, he does a new, elaborate trip down the history lane before you meet these super-thinkers by summarising the major philosophical discussions over "soul" from Classical era to the religion-clogged thought-space of Middle Ages. How, beginning with Locke, piecemeal by piecemeal, the deconstruction of body-soul dualism got executed and supplanted by the dualism of body-mind through a battery of thinkers from a variety of professions forms the crux.
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By Doc Barbara TOP 500 REVIEWER on 13 Mar. 2012
Format: Paperback
This is an authoritative and illuminating book about attitudes to the body (and soul) in a period of transition in Britian. I will not repeat the analyses of the two excellent reviews here but just add that I read it with fascination and that it opened my mind to aspects that, as a student of literature, I had failed to appreciate. For example, his account of Dr Johnson is detailed, moving and full of insights. It explains much about his life, personality, writing and relationships, burdened as he was with a blighted body and unhappy upbringing. These pages so moved me that they formed the inspiration for one of my best poems.
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