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Between Two Enlightenments

Chaumer Essays

by Lance St John Butler


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ISBN: 9780956527899
Published: 02 Sep 2021
Format: Hardback
Extent: 128
Publisher: Birlinn Ltd
Imprint: Maclean Dubois
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About the Book

Have we been fooling ourselves? Has the almost complete takeover of culture by the thinking of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment come without a cost? The sequel to the Enlightenment, known as modern life, has expanded our horizons enormously but it has also reduced and restricted us. We have lost identity and relationship and our minds have become fragmented and are often little short of foolish. In particular we haven’t found a way of prioritising, as we must, the only things we surely have: consciousness and (hence) experience. These things are what the word ‘life’ means.

We need some form of detachment from the empty counting and measuring that are at the heart of the Enlightenment project. We need to focus less on having, and less even on doing, when our task is being. A more Buddhist detachment may restore our own experience to us and get us beyond the impasses of politics and mechanical science. We need less focus on the outside and more on the inside, for that is where our lives are actually lived.

The Author

Lance St John Butler

Lance St John Butler is a literary academic who has worked at the University of Stirling in Scotland and at the University of Pau in France. He is the author of books on Thomas Hardy, Samuel Beckett, Literary Stylistics and Victorian Doubt. Since retirement he has lived in Edinburgh where he is Chairman of Trustees of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Centre.