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History, Guilt, and Habit [Paperback]

Owen Barfield
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

30 Jun 1979
'History, Guilt and Habit' is a collection of essays, based on lectures given by the author on the West Coast of North America. This brief, accessible book outlines Barfield's primary ideas: the distinction between the history of ideas and the evolution of human consciousness; the nature of morality, and the danger of mental passivity becoming habit. This new edition includes 'Evolution', Barfield's only essay on physical evolution and how it relates to the evolution of consciousness. "You can dig into the earth with a spade in order to get beneath the surface. The spade is itself a product of the earth, but that does not bother you. But if, by some mysterious dispensation, the spade were part of the very path of earth you were splitting up, you would be rather nonplussed, because you would destroy the instrument by using it. And that is the sort of difficulty you are up against when it is not the earth you are digging into, but consciousness; and when it is not a spade you are digging with, but language . . . However quickly you turn around, you can never see the back of your own head." (p. 13)
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 124 pages
  • Publisher: Wesleyan University Press (30 Jun 1979)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0819560642
  • ISBN-13: 978-0819560643
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 14 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,678,783 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars A sneak peak at Owen Barfield 21 July 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"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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Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Christian anthropology 1 Nov 2013
By Transcendental Thomist - Published on Amazon.com
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.
3.0 out of 5 stars A sneak peak at Owen Barfield 19 July 2013
By Ashtar Command - Published on Amazon.com
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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