There used to be a lot books about the “decline of the West.” But now that we are well on our way to everything these writers warned us about, we don’t hear that expression much anymore.
But we need these kind of books now more than ever. Here are three that help explain what is happening with our culture. And if the books themselves seem daunting, there are always great reviews of great books, which serve to give a sense of the author’s point. Check them out.
1. Death of the Soul: From Descartes to the Computer, by William Barrett.
Barrett was one of the great writers of philosophy and ideas for the intelligent layman. An editor at Partisan Review in the 1930s and later a literary critic for the Atlantic Monthly, the New York University law professor wrote some of the best popular books on philosophy and literature—Irrational Man, The Illusion of Technique, and Time of Need. Death of the Soul is an account of what happened after French Philosopher René Descartes inaugurated what Barrett calls the “Doctrine of Two Worlds”—the separation between the internal world of the consciousness and the external world of physical reality, a separation that later culminated in a scientific reductionism that seeks to eliminate the soul altogether.
See the other two books here.