Tuesday 12 November 2013

The Earth, The Gods and the Soul: Pagan Philosophy

Mention the word "philosophy" and - unless you are yourself a philosopher - two things are likely to come to mind: the image of some ancient Greek in a long white robe saying something inscrutable or the Monty Python Philosphers Drinking Song.

So, get those thoughts over and done with, then continue with this review of a book that all pagans ought to read. To my mind at least, The Earth, The Gods and The Soul - A History of Pagan Philosophy: From the Iron Age to the 21st Century does for pagan philosophy what Professor Ronald Hutton' The Triumph of the Moondid for the history of modern pagan witchcraft. It not only outlines the facts and puts them into context, but also helps put modern paganism into its rightful place as a credible system of thought and belief.

The Earth, The Gods and the Soul is written by Brendan Myers who is himself an academic philosopher as well as a practising pagan. His Ph.D. doctorate is in ethics and philosophy, but he is also a very good writer and explains what can be quite complex theories in a manner that is easy to understand and enjoyable to read.

Publisher Moon Books says about The Earth, The Gods and the Soul: "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."

Brendan Myers manages to summarise all of this in one book, and also examines the theories that the different thinkers put forward. He concludes with a chapter outlining the ideas of leading modern pagan intellectuals,written by themselves. These include Emma Restall Orr, Michael York, John Michael Greer, and Vivianne Crowley.

For anyone interested in how pagan thought has developed throughout history - or who wants to put forward arguments in favour of a pagan view of the world - The Earth, The Gods and The Soul - A History of Pagan Philosophy: From the Iron Age to the 21st Century is essential reading.

Links and previous related posts
The Earth, The Gods and The Soul - A History of Pagan Philosophy: From the Iron Age to the 21st Century

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