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The Earth, The Gods and The Soul - A History of Pagan Philosophy: From the Iron Age to the 21st Century [Kindle Edition]

Brendan Myers

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Philosophy was invented by pagans. Yet this fact is almost always ignored by those who write the history of ideas. This book tells the history of the pagan philosophers, and the various places where their ideas appeared, from ancient times to the 21st century. The Pagan philosophers are a surprisingly diverse group: from kings of great empires to exiled lonely wanderers, from devout religious teachers to con artists, drug addicts, and social radicals. Three traditions of thought emerge from their work: Pantheism, NeoPlatonism, and Humanism, corresponding to the immensities of the Earth, the Gods, and the Soul. From ancient schools like the Stoics and the Druids, to modern feminists and deep ecologists, the pagan philosophers examined these three immensities with systematic critical reason, and sometimes with poetry and mystical vision. This book tells their story for the first time in one volume, and invites you to examine the immensities with them. And as a special feature, the book includes summaries of the ideas of leading modern pagan intellectuals, in their own words: Emma Restall Orr, Michael York, John Michael Greer, Vivianne Crowley, and more

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Brendan Cathbad Myers's interest in mythology and ethics was inspired by Celtic storytelling and culture, taught to him by his Irish parents as a child. His Ph.D. doctorate is in ethics and philosophy. He has appeared on many US radio stations and podcasts, and writes a regular column in several Pagan magazines. He lives in Gatineau, Canada.


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5.0 von 5 Sternen A great introduction to Pagan philosphy from earliest times to the present day 19. November 2013
Von Lenora - Veröffentlicht auf
The Sub-heading for this book is: A history of Pagan Philosophy, from the Iron Age to the 21st Century - and it certainly does what it says on the tin! This is a weighty book and yet it is also a very lucid introduction to a vast range of philosophers and proto-philosophers from the ancient to modern. Myers traces the roots and branches of Pagan thinking and philosophy over several thousand years - analysing the various philosophical arguments and propositions presented in the various sources: from the Classical world and its renowned philosophers such as Plato and Socrates, through the lacuna in pagan writings during the Christian era, to the stirrings of pagan philosophy found in 'Barbarian' works of the Irish Wisdom Texts and Poetic Eddas. He follows the route of pagan thought through to the Age of Reason and to the Nature writers of nineteenth century America - who brought nature to the fore in their world view.

Myers explores the nineteenth and twentieth century revivals of paganism via Madame Blavatsky, James Frazer and Robert Graves, Aleister Crowley, Gerald Gardiner and Doreen Valiente and brings the work right up to the present day via the birth of modern Neo-Paganism. Finally he considers whether Pagan Philosophy has developed a critical tradition (with argument, criticism, counter-criticism etc shaping and re-developing/re-interpreting ideas) whilst being effectively denied the institutional support of museums, universities and the like due to the ascendancy of Christianity for much of recent history.

I have to say, this book took me a while to read. Although I had heard of most of the philosophers mentioned (and even read some of them) I have never studied philosophy so, frankly, don't really understand it very much!! Hence I was expecting to be just a bit out of my depth with this book. However, I was happily surprised. Myers is a very good writer and presents his arguments with passion and clarity.

Myers takes time to clearly lay out what makes a philosophical argument: basically asking really BIG questions and using 'systematic critical reasoning' to investigate them (N.B. but to avoid dogmatic 'Answers' as philosophy is an ongoing process!) He also outlines how he proposes to define 'pagan philosophers' as clearly many of the writers in the 'Christian Era' may have held more or less recognizably pagan views but would not necessarily have identified themselves as pagans. To justify his choice of writers, he explains the three main strands of paganism that he considers are identifying factors in pagan philosophy: Pantheism, Neo-Platonism and Humanism.

I could write A LOT on this book. I found it utterly fascinating and extremely well researched. The second half of the book, which deals with writers who may be more familiar to Modern Pagan readers (Blavatsky, Frazer, Graves, Crowley, Bonewits, the Farrer's) I found to be easier to read simply because they were more familiar to me. Myers also examines the influence of Feminist Philosophers (including the legendary Simone De Beauvoir) on pagan thinking, and the intersecting of eco-theory into the mainstay of pagan world views - I found these sections to be of particular interest as they seemed to show the beginnings of a critical tradition within paganism.

The history of Paganism and Neo-Paganism and its philosophical heritage deserve to be considered worthy of serious study. Modern Pagan need to re-evaluate some of the 'accepted truths' of Neo-Paganism - such as Murray's surviving witch-cult; Daly's 'Burning Times' - and consider that they are more akin to foundation myths rather than history. However, as Myers notes, this does not diminish their importance because they still clearly have mythical and poetic truths contained within them. Nevertheless recognizing this will help in further developing a serious 'critical tradition' for Pagans which can only be a good thing. I think that Brendan Myers book is an important part of this growing trend for serious study of paganism and its philosophy.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Well done and easy to read! 3. Dezember 2013
Von Kirk S. Thomas - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
The is a very deep, yet very readable book. I managed to polish it off in a couple of leisurely afternoons, which, frankly, surprised me. And I must admit that I enjoyed every minute of it. I'm not all that well versed in philosophy, but Dr. Meyers managed to explain it all to me in a painless and fascinating way. For those who are interested in the whole historical arc of pagan philosophy, and even those who simply want an easy-to-read overview of just what pagan philosophy might be about, this is a must-read book. The only question for modern Pagans becomes, where do we go from here?

Rev. Kirk Thomas
ADF Archdruid
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4.0 von 5 Sternen A very well-done overview! 4. März 2014
Von Gregory S Catalone - Veröffentlicht auf
Dr. Myers has succeeded, once again, in delivering Philosophy in a very accessible and meaningful way to non-philosophers.

In The Earth, The Gods and The Soul, we are treated to the history of Pagan thinking and philosophy over several thousand years: starting before the time of Socrates thru the present. I was a mazed at the actual volume of material that was drawn from. Myers is able to find the most pertinent examples from a surprisingly large population and present it in an intelligent and useful way. We are pointed to philisophical, religious and social movements as well as numerous ancient and not-so-ancient texts in addition to individuals. We are also shown the development and evolution of pagan thought through time.

After having read this, I really do have a better (if rudimentary) grasp on the subject. Myers writing style is accessible while still staying focused. He has been able to distill a huge amount of material into a single, concise overview. While you will not become an expert on the subject, you will learn the breadth of it and know where to continue your studies. Personally, I'm now waiting for Myers to write the more focused volumes that this book begs for!

College level philosophy is not a pre-requisite to gain value from this book. I highly recommend this to anyone interested.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen great research 17. Juli 2014
Von Laura - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
That's a great book if you want to understand the history of pagan philosophy, and very informative. I like the way the author explains things, it's easy to understand. It also have a long and interesting list of other books you can read if you want to dig deeper in some specific issue. It seems that Brendan Myers did a really good and extensive research.
5.0 von 5 Sternen One of a kind 4. Dezember 2014
Von Jennifer Lawrence - Veröffentlicht auf
One might think that any book titled "The Earth, The Gods, and the Soul" might end up being rather like the professed all-inclusiveness of "Life, the Universe, and Everything", but this is not Douglas Adams' laugh-a-minute romp. Instead, this is a very well-written, well-organized history of pagan philosophy that manages to be clear and detailed without becoming overwhelming.

The author starts this survey of pagan philosophy's history all the way back with the "barbarians" -- the Norse, the Druids, and the Irish (none of which quite matched the "barbarian" image that is the mainstream understanding of those cultures). He then moves on to the philosophers born from the pre-Christian Greek and Roman cultures before continuing through the Dark Ages, the Middle Ages, and then the Renaissance. Many philosophers coming from an ostensibly Christian milieu nonetheless were possessed of a pagan mindset, nourished on the texts of those cultures that came before Christianity. The environmental and animist leanings of modern paganism can be seen foreshadowed in the writings of men such as Rousseau, Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, and John Muir.

Finally, the book proceeds on through the near past (the 1800s through the mid-1900s) and onward into the current era, dealing with a number of individuals whom not only cherished pagan ideals and philosophy but openly identified as pagan, as well. The depth and breadth of information between these covers is properly attributed, footnoted, and discussed in great detail, with a final section contemplating what philosophy the pagans of the future might bring us. It is a fascinating read, unlike any other book currently on the market, and worthy of a place on any pagan's bookshelf.
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