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The Veil of Isis: An Essay on the History of the Idea of Nature Hardcover – Oct 30 2006

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
The Trembling of the Veil Nov. 10 2012
By toronto - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is about 2/3 of a great book, which is still very good. Hadot is a very well known French philosopher of a not post-modern kind, and writes very clearly (and the translation by Michael Chase is beautiful). The book is a survey of the theme of penetrating the secrets of nature, and it is surprising how much mileage the author gets out of the idea. The first 2/3 of the book is spectacular, handling a range of ancient sources with aplomb and care. After that, it sort of winds down, and becomes spotty in dealing with the 19th and 20th centuries. I don't usually want books bigger, but this one should have been. The dealings with Heidegger and Nietszche, though interesting, are really just sketches for arguments that need a lot more material and discussion; the same with the Romantic poets. The Orphic approach to Nature doesn't really come off: it needed a lot more work. Nevertheless, I learned a lot. One hardly reads anything as ambitious as this, and carried off.
27 of 36 people found the following review helpful
Nature as a Mythopoetic matrix April 2 2009
By Luca - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
There is much in Hadot's The Veil of Isis to ponder and appreciate: the scholarly vein, the invaluable insights, the clarity of presentation, the sensibility of the philosopher and the ethical intrigues that art haunts us by. This is the best book on such matters since Joseph Campbell and Lewis Hyde have written on the subject, as it manages to expose analogies and interpretive intuitions that will lend you an intent to create more through art, literature and self-discovery than ever before. The ethics of the subject are unveiled with distinction and a verve that makes philosophy exciting, mythology pertinant, and the epistemic realm of nature a poetic art that enchants and inspires. Highly recommended.
5 of 33 people found the following review helpful
seminal ideas, oh my! Oct. 31 2011
By Jemima McFarland - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book charts important territory that was brilliantly explored, as the authors note, by Carolyn Merchant in her Death of Nature. I almost gave up on this volume at once, due an ominously careless reference at the beginning (Thorvaldsen was not Swedish), but the material is vital and the approach appealing so I persisted and can offer two quotes to illustrate where the thinking goes afoul:
First,"[t]he Promethean attitude, which consists of using technical procedures to tear Nature's "secrets" from her in order to dominate and exploit her, has had a gigantic influence. It has engendered our modern civilization and the worldwide expansion of science and industry." (p. 101) Yes, folks, it is our 'attitude" that changes the world, not an expanding population's need to utilize limited resources! Thought, not necessity, is the mother, or rather the father, of invention!
Second, there are not-so-veiled imperatives of sentiment that warp the procedure of the thought:
"The Christian character of this mechanistic revolution of the seventeenth century cannot be overemphasized." This, we are told, is because that revolution "echoes God's exhortation to Adam and Eve to "Subjugate the earth."" (pp. 129-30). Nevermind that 'subjugate' is not a translation of the Hebrew, that one line does not a story make, and that said mechanistic revolution caused contemporary Christian theologians to wail in dismay; if we desire to jump on the bash-religion bandwagon, let us lose no opportunity to ride, however intellectually far-fetched.
Again, this is an appealing approach to important material, and represents fascinating scholarship. Ultimately, however, the thinking is hasty and even irresponsible at times. Regretfully, I laid it aside midway, for life is short.