The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought PDF ´ of

The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought PDF ´ of


The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought [PDF / Epub] ✅ The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought ⚣ Marilynne Robinson – Capitalsoftworks.co.uk In this awardwinning collection, the bestselling author of Gilead offers us other ways of thinking about history, religion, and society Whether rescuing Calvinism and its creator Jean Cauvin from the In this awardwinning collection, the bestselling author of of Adam: eBook ✓ Gilead offers us other ways of thinking about history, religion, and society Whether rescuing Calvinism and its creator Jean Cauvin from the repressive puritan stereotype, or considering how the McGuffey readers were inspired by Midwestern The Death eBook ¿ abolitionists, or the divide between the Bible and Darwinism, Marilynne Robinson repeatedly sends her reader back to the primary texts that are central to the development of American culture but little read or acknowledged todayA passionate and provocative celebration of ideas, the old arts Death of Adam: ePUB ☆ of civilization, and life's mystery, The Death of Adam is, in the words of Robert D Richardson, Jr a grand, sweeping, blazing, brilliant, lifechanging book.

  • Paperback
  • 263 pages
  • The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought
  • Marilynne Robinson
  • English
  • 15 April 2018
  • 9780312425326

About the Author: Marilynne Robinson

Marilynne Summers Robinson born November , is of Adam: eBook ✓ an American novelist and essayist Across her writing career, Robinson has received numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in , National Humanities Medal in , and the Library of Congress Prize for The Death eBook ¿ American Fiction In , Robinson was named in Time magazine's list of most influential people[] Robinson be.



10 thoughts on “The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought

  1. Lobstergirl Lobstergirl says:

    I hadn't read any of Robinson's well-regarded novels or essays when I came across this collection by accident, misshelved at the library, just a New Yorker review that mentioned she was serious about religion. She is, very (although she calls herself a pagan too). What she is undoubtedly is a scholar. She reads texts closely, and she unhesitatingly criticizes those who haven't bothered to (including Lord Acton, Max Weber, Simon Schama, and Daniel Dennett, all faulted for their misreadings of John Calvin). The introduction to this collection is less an introduction and more a freestanding essay on misinterpretations of Calvin. If the book had a motto, it would be: We are forever drawing up indictments against the past, then refusing to let it testify in its own behalf – it is so very guilty, after all. Such attention as we give to it is usually vindictive and incurious and therefore incompetent. (p. 182) Her writing is the opposite of glib: deep, thoughtful, searching. I had certainly never seen Freud compared to Hesiod before (It is characteristic of Freud to personify abstractions and to attribute to them motive and strategy. I know of no one else but Hesiod who is so inclined to this way of thinking.) She urges us to be moral, but this is not the same as being priggish. Morality means being loyal in life and behavior to an understanding of what is right and good, and ...honor[ing:] it even at considerable cost to [one:]self. Priggishness is self-righteous and highly predictable because it is nothing else than a consuming loyalty to ideals and beliefs which are in general so widely shared that the spectacle of zealous adherence to them is reassuring. This is why the true prig so often has a spring in his step. Morality could never offer such heady satisfactions.

  2. Adam Adam says:

    A dissenter's point of view of the modern world, and the uncriticized assumptions and biases that it possesses. Robinson's flawless prose doesn't hurt either. Plus, her basic methodology is this:

    1) I am a relatively intelligent person,
    2) I consider myself capable of reading and understanding those thinkers and authors who have shaped the world
    3) rather than reading the partisans who either deify or malign those thinkers, why don't I read them myself, and decide for myself what to think about them?

    This is a nice way of pursuing scholarship and scholarly pursuits.

  3. Tara Tara says:

    Oh, Marilynne. You made me want to read John Calvin. I only recently decided to read Augustine instead of judging him after reading other people talk about him, and now you've made me want to read Calvin.

    Marilynne Robinson has one of the fairest, wisest minds I've ever encountered. When she makes a judgment I trust it, and that doesn't happen all too often. The lady read Marx and Calvin and everyone else. She read the source material. Our culture is throwing away the past with abandon, judging it without the slightest understanding, engaging in internet gawking sessions without knowing what we're discarding. So calmly, so gently she walks by, suggesting we aren't quite where we think we are, that perhaps we've tossed out an approach to knowledge and living that was actually worth something. Oh, it's so unfashionable to say the past matters, that we could learn something from it. Perhaps the fact that it's so unfashionable should make us wonder why we are rushing about so blindly, placing our trust in ever-changing and unstable material objects, and ephemeral cultural trends.

    Maybe what makes Marilynne so wonderful to read is that she herself is a real reader, someone who has engaged the past and other minds, who has spent a lifetime reflecting and learning. To read her is to be given a glimpse into this conversation, and I think that is a wonderful thing.

  4. Sara Sara says:

    This was a beautiful book. Marilynne Robinson uses such beautiful language to express herself. I was amazed by these essays. She has a talent for expressing in poetic words ideas that I feel deep down inside but have no idea how to formulate or write down or even explain to others.

    This book is a series of essays written at different times, many of them with a theological theme. In this book, she explored the life and writings of John Calvin (which she actually read, contrary to almost everyone - myself included - who has strong opinions of Calvinism yet who hasn't ever gone back to the source) and discussed the nature of Calvinism and Capitalism and how so much of that we have projected onto our erroneous perception of Calvin and his theology. She has almost made me want to pick up a volume of his Institutes and get reading.

    She has discussed how in modern times we have neglected the poor and the suffering and although we may say we are Christians and dutifully holding fast to the word, we've forgotten the spirit of Christianity. There are chapters in here on our destruction of the environment as humanity seems to always justify the wants of the many over the needs of the few. She inquires as to what happened to true liberalism and how the politics of the modern day movement seem to be a farce as to what the word really means.

    I was only aware of Marguerite of Navarre as a name, not a real person, a real presence in the early days of the Reformation in France. I learned more of Bonhoeffer and the connection between the early McGuffey readers and the abolitionists. It was a fascinating read.

    I was moved. Her intellect amazed me. I agreed with her in many things as I understand in my heart what she penned so eloquently. I would recommend this book to anyone who has looked around and thought that there was something wrong with the society we have built around us and who perhaps would like a fresh perspective and something new to ponder.

  5. Megan Megan says:

    Marilynne Robinson is a gift. The common thread through all of these diverse essays (ranging in topic from Darwinism to Maguerite de Navarre with many nods to John Calvin) is her loyalty to them. Its rare for a writer to so fully know their own mind and speak about what is important to her with such authority. She knows her subjects well and she knows the biases that the reader (me) carries with them. After reading this book I felt like I had met many historical figures for the first time. Because of her glowing sentiments I now find myself steeped in Boenhoffer (not an easy feat) and enjoying myself immensely. One of the last essays in the book was on wilderness, and she refers to it as our holy land. The sight and smell of the Palouse (my holy land, my wilderness) grew heavy in my head at this thought and I was so glad that those sacred spaces have another advocate. There is no way my review can provide a comprehensive scope of her essays, and to be honest if anyone reading this is interested in reading her works, don't start with this book. Start with Gilead. Then if that captivated you move onto Housekeeping. Then finally read these essays and be glad.

  6. Jacob Jacob says:

    Marilynne Robinson is SERIOUS about ideas and Christianity and primary texts and the prevailing emptiness of American culture at present and the lightweightness of most semi-intellectuals. I love all this rigor.

    And yet... sometimes she seems deliberately difficult. Demanding to the point of obscurity.

  7. Joseph Kugelmass Joseph Kugelmass says:

    If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times -- nobody reads good essays about contemporary Calvinism anymore!

  8. Bryan "They call me the Doge" Bryan "They call me the Doge" says:

    There is a measure of success for a single author collection of essays that is subtly different from simply averaging the overall quality of its compositions; an aspect over and above the intent behind the writing that pushes it beyond mere academic effort. It is difficult to define this quality - but the cumulative effect is similar to the sense of 'humanness' I might perceive from someone after a long conversation. There are moments when the conversation's subject fades into the background, and what's left is the pleasure of watching an interesting mind at work. Essayists who fail to exhibit this added dimension, regardless of the caliber of their writing, may, in the end, feel dry and lifeless and unremarkable.

    I bring this up because it is my impression that Ms. Robinson achieves this delicate and admittedly vague plateau in The Death of Adam, and it is also what tips the collection from four stars to five. By the time I reached the final pages, I felt as though Ms. Robinson had accomplished with her essays what great fiction often does; to intimate, in a calm and deliberate manner, the foreign landscape of another mind - in this case, hers.

    And the striking element of this collection is Ms. Robinson's emphatic support of theology and the church as sources of moral guidance. There should be nothing shocking in this - Christianity as moral inspiration has guided the Western world for well over a thousand years, yet to read a reasonable person advocate it now seems almost controversial. But this is her firm foundation - refreshing actually, to this reader - although she isn't an evangelist, at least not here. Her intention is to 'rescue' historical theological texts and personalities from the disparagement of modern cultural judgment, developed over time on incorrect or unfair readings; and, when the facts are unobtainable, to present alternate, positive possibilities compatible with what is known.

    It is in this way that she attacks the modern canards concerning John Calvin, which she deals with in more than one instance, and also in how she revisits the debate between Darwinism and Creationism, and even the source and impact of the McGuffy Readers. Time and time again, she returns to the original texts to draw her conclusions, but no matter what the ostensible subject of any essay, Ms. Robinson's main thrust is, as she says in her introduction, that the prevailing view of things can be assumed to be wrong, and that its opposite...can also be assumed to be wrong. They (the essays) undertake to demonstrate that there are other ways of thinking, for which better arguments can be made.

    This confidence in, and explanation of, possible 'third ways' (or more) is what I found most likable about Ms. Robinson's collection. That, and the inference that it's best to be wary of anyone's interpretation of source materials. Ms. Robinson is included in that 'anyone', although from afar, she strikes me as more reasonable simply because she is less fanatically aggressive. The two default positions for any discussions in this country today seem to be intractable polar extremes, often just as interested in destroying the ideas of others as in promoting their own, and it's a pleasure to read someone capable of realistically defending other beliefs. Discussion of the 'issues' is probably only of limited use no matter what, but it is of no use when the two sides are entrenched in dogma.

    The Death of Adam succeeds best when Ms. Robinson sticks to exegesis. It is informative and enlightening, and although she tends to make assumptions that bolster her arguments when the historical record is thin, they are no less implausible than the prevailing postulations. Where it is weakest, in the essays Facing Reality and Family, Ms. Robinson skips too quickly from topic to topic and loses coherence; while in Wilderness, she raises what will probably be the defining legacy of the human race, yet her antidote, or better yet, her course correction, is weak and improbable, and amounts to the breathless exhortation that 'we must do better'.

    These minor points aside, I admired Ms. Robinson's forthright opinions and her courage to publish them as they are, instead of launching a defensive first strike on people and positions with which she disagrees. I appreciate that she stands for something, instead of simply against something else. If, in this modern life, the possibility still exists to place discussion and intellect onto a useful plane (of which I am uncertain), it will be by supporting the opportunity for unflinching writers and thinkers such as Ms. Robinson to speak their mind, regardless of how well it fits into our own patterns of belief.

  9. Joseph Pensak Joseph Pensak says:

    A defense of John Calvin from the halls of the UIowa Creative Writing Department? The sky is falling.

  10. Bryn (Plus Others) Bryn (Plus Others) says:

    Maybe it is wonderful; I have been awfully cranky lately, refusing to finish all kinds of books, and it might be that in two or five or fifteen years I come back to this shaking my head at my earlier blindness.

    But right now I am just *so annoyed* by this book, and I will explain three reasons why for my future edification and then stop:

    1. An important historical “proof” very current among us now is that Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence unconscious of the irony of the existence of slavery in his land of equality. The most ordinary curiosity would be a sufficient antidote to the error of imagining that Jefferson was such a knave or fool as this notion implies. Jefferson attacked slavery as a terrible crime in the first draft of the Declaration...

    Okay, yes, I know that Jefferson's relationship to slavery was enormously complex, but what it comes down to (for me) is that all the lovely things he wrote about ending slavery and all the work he did to try to end slavery was done while he held slaves and when he died 130 human beings were sold whom he could have chosen to free. 130 people. Actual people, not words on paper. If Robinson was trying to point out that it was complicated I would be very much cheering her on, but she isn't engaging in the actual complications of it, she's just complaining about a position she claims some people ('us' -- who is this 'us'?) have. Which brings me to point #2...

    2. It is not 'rigorous thinking' to claim that an idea exists out there somewhere in the world and set about vociferously attacking it without in any way substantiating your claim. Her taking apart of Acton's views on Calvin -- yes, that was rigorous, because she quotes Acton and then she demonstrates how he was wrong by quoting Calvin. But throughout the portions of the book I read, Robinson takes advantage of passive voice to create a claim (The idea is very well established now that... or They [ideas] are not designed to...) and then she proceeds to take that claim apart, without ever giving any evidence that anyone believes this in the first place. Where is this idea established, and by whom? How was it established? Who else speaks against it? If Darwin's ideas were designed to veer so predictably toward ugliness and evil, who was it that designed them? Darwin himself? Why isn't she demonstrating this? If people believe that Freud and Darwin dispelled the gloom of an unvalued present life (whatever that means), who are those people? And when she says that Puritan civilization in North America quickly achieved unprecedented levels of literacy, longevity, and mass prosperity, or happiness, as it was called in those days -- called by whom? This is cheap rhetoric, creating a dark background for Robinson's assertions to explode against like fireworks, but it is not argument because there is only one actual side.

    3. Finally and most personally, I despise the use of the first-person plural when the writer really means 'I'. We are all aware that... or We all distinguish instantly between... or We all learn... -- no, I am not part of this 'we' and I am sure many people who might otherwise be interested in Robinson's thoughts and ideas are also not part of her 'we'. I find it bad faith to set oneself up as a defender of humanity and human ideals and all that is good and vital and important in human life, and then address it all to such a narrow 'we' as she seems to be imagining.

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10 thoughts on “The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought

  1. Lobstergirl Lobstergirl says:

    I hadn't read any of Robinson's well-regarded novels or essays when I came across this collection by accident, misshelved at the library, just a New Yorker review that mentioned she was serious about religion. She is, very (although she calls herself a pagan too). What she is undoubtedly is a scholar. She reads texts closely, and she unhesitatingly criticizes those who haven't bothered to (including Lord Acton, Max Weber, Simon Schama, and Daniel Dennett, all faulted for their misreadings of John Calvin). The introduction to this collection is less an introduction and more a freestanding essay on misinterpretations of Calvin. If the book had a motto, it would be: We are forever drawing up indictments against the past, then refusing to let it testify in its own behalf – it is so very guilty, after all. Such attention as we give to it is usually vindictive and incurious and therefore incompetent. (p. 182) Her writing is the opposite of glib: deep, thoughtful, searching. I had certainly never seen Freud compared to Hesiod before (It is characteristic of Freud to personify abstractions and to attribute to them motive and strategy. I know of no one else but Hesiod who is so inclined to this way of thinking.) She urges us to be moral, but this is not the same as being priggish. Morality means being loyal in life and behavior to an understanding of what is right and good, and ...honor[ing:] it even at considerable cost to [one:]self. Priggishness is self-righteous and highly predictable because it is nothing else than a consuming loyalty to ideals and beliefs which are in general so widely shared that the spectacle of zealous adherence to them is reassuring. This is why the true prig so often has a spring in his step. Morality could never offer such heady satisfactions.

  2. Adam Adam says:

    A dissenter's point of view of the modern world, and the uncriticized assumptions and biases that it possesses. Robinson's flawless prose doesn't hurt either. Plus, her basic methodology is this:

    1) I am a relatively intelligent person,
    2) I consider myself capable of reading and understanding those thinkers and authors who have shaped the world
    3) rather than reading the partisans who either deify or malign those thinkers, why don't I read them myself, and decide for myself what to think about them?

    This is a nice way of pursuing scholarship and scholarly pursuits.

  3. Tara Tara says:

    Oh, Marilynne. You made me want to read John Calvin. I only recently decided to read Augustine instead of judging him after reading other people talk about him, and now you've made me want to read Calvin.

    Marilynne Robinson has one of the fairest, wisest minds I've ever encountered. When she makes a judgment I trust it, and that doesn't happen all too often. The lady read Marx and Calvin and everyone else. She read the source material. Our culture is throwing away the past with abandon, judging it without the slightest understanding, engaging in internet gawking sessions without knowing what we're discarding. So calmly, so gently she walks by, suggesting we aren't quite where we think we are, that perhaps we've tossed out an approach to knowledge and living that was actually worth something. Oh, it's so unfashionable to say the past matters, that we could learn something from it. Perhaps the fact that it's so unfashionable should make us wonder why we are rushing about so blindly, placing our trust in ever-changing and unstable material objects, and ephemeral cultural trends.

    Maybe what makes Marilynne so wonderful to read is that she herself is a real reader, someone who has engaged the past and other minds, who has spent a lifetime reflecting and learning. To read her is to be given a glimpse into this conversation, and I think that is a wonderful thing.

  4. Sara Sara says:

    This was a beautiful book. Marilynne Robinson uses such beautiful language to express herself. I was amazed by these essays. She has a talent for expressing in poetic words ideas that I feel deep down inside but have no idea how to formulate or write down or even explain to others.

    This book is a series of essays written at different times, many of them with a theological theme. In this book, she explored the life and writings of John Calvin (which she actually read, contrary to almost everyone - myself included - who has strong opinions of Calvinism yet who hasn't ever gone back to the source) and discussed the nature of Calvinism and Capitalism and how so much of that we have projected onto our erroneous perception of Calvin and his theology. She has almost made me want to pick up a volume of his Institutes and get reading.

    She has discussed how in modern times we have neglected the poor and the suffering and although we may say we are Christians and dutifully holding fast to the word, we've forgotten the spirit of Christianity. There are chapters in here on our destruction of the environment as humanity seems to always justify the wants of the many over the needs of the few. She inquires as to what happened to true liberalism and how the politics of the modern day movement seem to be a farce as to what the word really means.

    I was only aware of Marguerite of Navarre as a name, not a real person, a real presence in the early days of the Reformation in France. I learned more of Bonhoeffer and the connection between the early McGuffey readers and the abolitionists. It was a fascinating read.

    I was moved. Her intellect amazed me. I agreed with her in many things as I understand in my heart what she penned so eloquently. I would recommend this book to anyone who has looked around and thought that there was something wrong with the society we have built around us and who perhaps would like a fresh perspective and something new to ponder.

  5. Megan Megan says:

    Marilynne Robinson is a gift. The common thread through all of these diverse essays (ranging in topic from Darwinism to Maguerite de Navarre with many nods to John Calvin) is her loyalty to them. Its rare for a writer to so fully know their own mind and speak about what is important to her with such authority. She knows her subjects well and she knows the biases that the reader (me) carries with them. After reading this book I felt like I had met many historical figures for the first time. Because of her glowing sentiments I now find myself steeped in Boenhoffer (not an easy feat) and enjoying myself immensely. One of the last essays in the book was on wilderness, and she refers to it as our holy land. The sight and smell of the Palouse (my holy land, my wilderness) grew heavy in my head at this thought and I was so glad that those sacred spaces have another advocate. There is no way my review can provide a comprehensive scope of her essays, and to be honest if anyone reading this is interested in reading her works, don't start with this book. Start with Gilead. Then if that captivated you move onto Housekeeping. Then finally read these essays and be glad.

  6. Jacob Jacob says:

    Marilynne Robinson is SERIOUS about ideas and Christianity and primary texts and the prevailing emptiness of American culture at present and the lightweightness of most semi-intellectuals. I love all this rigor.

    And yet... sometimes she seems deliberately difficult. Demanding to the point of obscurity.

  7. Joseph Kugelmass Joseph Kugelmass says:

    If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times -- nobody reads good essays about contemporary Calvinism anymore!

  8. Bryan "They call me the Doge" Bryan "They call me the Doge" says:

    There is a measure of success for a single author collection of essays that is subtly different from simply averaging the overall quality of its compositions; an aspect over and above the intent behind the writing that pushes it beyond mere academic effort. It is difficult to define this quality - but the cumulative effect is similar to the sense of 'humanness' I might perceive from someone after a long conversation. There are moments when the conversation's subject fades into the background, and what's left is the pleasure of watching an interesting mind at work. Essayists who fail to exhibit this added dimension, regardless of the caliber of their writing, may, in the end, feel dry and lifeless and unremarkable.

    I bring this up because it is my impression that Ms. Robinson achieves this delicate and admittedly vague plateau in The Death of Adam, and it is also what tips the collection from four stars to five. By the time I reached the final pages, I felt as though Ms. Robinson had accomplished with her essays what great fiction often does; to intimate, in a calm and deliberate manner, the foreign landscape of another mind - in this case, hers.

    And the striking element of this collection is Ms. Robinson's emphatic support of theology and the church as sources of moral guidance. There should be nothing shocking in this - Christianity as moral inspiration has guided the Western world for well over a thousand years, yet to read a reasonable person advocate it now seems almost controversial. But this is her firm foundation - refreshing actually, to this reader - although she isn't an evangelist, at least not here. Her intention is to 'rescue' historical theological texts and personalities from the disparagement of modern cultural judgment, developed over time on incorrect or unfair readings; and, when the facts are unobtainable, to present alternate, positive possibilities compatible with what is known.

    It is in this way that she attacks the modern canards concerning John Calvin, which she deals with in more than one instance, and also in how she revisits the debate between Darwinism and Creationism, and even the source and impact of the McGuffy Readers. Time and time again, she returns to the original texts to draw her conclusions, but no matter what the ostensible subject of any essay, Ms. Robinson's main thrust is, as she says in her introduction, that the prevailing view of things can be assumed to be wrong, and that its opposite...can also be assumed to be wrong. They (the essays) undertake to demonstrate that there are other ways of thinking, for which better arguments can be made.

    This confidence in, and explanation of, possible 'third ways' (or more) is what I found most likable about Ms. Robinson's collection. That, and the inference that it's best to be wary of anyone's interpretation of source materials. Ms. Robinson is included in that 'anyone', although from afar, she strikes me as more reasonable simply because she is less fanatically aggressive. The two default positions for any discussions in this country today seem to be intractable polar extremes, often just as interested in destroying the ideas of others as in promoting their own, and it's a pleasure to read someone capable of realistically defending other beliefs. Discussion of the 'issues' is probably only of limited use no matter what, but it is of no use when the two sides are entrenched in dogma.

    The Death of Adam succeeds best when Ms. Robinson sticks to exegesis. It is informative and enlightening, and although she tends to make assumptions that bolster her arguments when the historical record is thin, they are no less implausible than the prevailing postulations. Where it is weakest, in the essays Facing Reality and Family, Ms. Robinson skips too quickly from topic to topic and loses coherence; while in Wilderness, she raises what will probably be the defining legacy of the human race, yet her antidote, or better yet, her course correction, is weak and improbable, and amounts to the breathless exhortation that 'we must do better'.

    These minor points aside, I admired Ms. Robinson's forthright opinions and her courage to publish them as they are, instead of launching a defensive first strike on people and positions with which she disagrees. I appreciate that she stands for something, instead of simply against something else. If, in this modern life, the possibility still exists to place discussion and intellect onto a useful plane (of which I am uncertain), it will be by supporting the opportunity for unflinching writers and thinkers such as Ms. Robinson to speak their mind, regardless of how well it fits into our own patterns of belief.

  9. Joseph Pensak Joseph Pensak says:

    A defense of John Calvin from the halls of the UIowa Creative Writing Department? The sky is falling.

  10. Bryn (Plus Others) Bryn (Plus Others) says:

    Maybe it is wonderful; I have been awfully cranky lately, refusing to finish all kinds of books, and it might be that in two or five or fifteen years I come back to this shaking my head at my earlier blindness.

    But right now I am just *so annoyed* by this book, and I will explain three reasons why for my future edification and then stop:

    1. An important historical “proof” very current among us now is that Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence unconscious of the irony of the existence of slavery in his land of equality. The most ordinary curiosity would be a sufficient antidote to the error of imagining that Jefferson was such a knave or fool as this notion implies. Jefferson attacked slavery as a terrible crime in the first draft of the Declaration...

    Okay, yes, I know that Jefferson's relationship to slavery was enormously complex, but what it comes down to (for me) is that all the lovely things he wrote about ending slavery and all the work he did to try to end slavery was done while he held slaves and when he died 130 human beings were sold whom he could have chosen to free. 130 people. Actual people, not words on paper. If Robinson was trying to point out that it was complicated I would be very much cheering her on, but she isn't engaging in the actual complications of it, she's just complaining about a position she claims some people ('us' -- who is this 'us'?) have. Which brings me to point #2...

    2. It is not 'rigorous thinking' to claim that an idea exists out there somewhere in the world and set about vociferously attacking it without in any way substantiating your claim. Her taking apart of Acton's views on Calvin -- yes, that was rigorous, because she quotes Acton and then she demonstrates how he was wrong by quoting Calvin. But throughout the portions of the book I read, Robinson takes advantage of passive voice to create a claim (The idea is very well established now that... or They [ideas] are not designed to...) and then she proceeds to take that claim apart, without ever giving any evidence that anyone believes this in the first place. Where is this idea established, and by whom? How was it established? Who else speaks against it? If Darwin's ideas were designed to veer so predictably toward ugliness and evil, who was it that designed them? Darwin himself? Why isn't she demonstrating this? If people believe that Freud and Darwin dispelled the gloom of an unvalued present life (whatever that means), who are those people? And when she says that Puritan civilization in North America quickly achieved unprecedented levels of literacy, longevity, and mass prosperity, or happiness, as it was called in those days -- called by whom? This is cheap rhetoric, creating a dark background for Robinson's assertions to explode against like fireworks, but it is not argument because there is only one actual side.

    3. Finally and most personally, I despise the use of the first-person plural when the writer really means 'I'. We are all aware that... or We all distinguish instantly between... or We all learn... -- no, I am not part of this 'we' and I am sure many people who might otherwise be interested in Robinson's thoughts and ideas are also not part of her 'we'. I find it bad faith to set oneself up as a defender of humanity and human ideals and all that is good and vital and important in human life, and then address it all to such a narrow 'we' as she seems to be imagining.

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