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The Myths We Live by
Mary Midgley
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The Myths We Live by (Routledge Classics)

3.76  ·  Rating Details  ·  87 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
Mary Midgley argues in her powerful new book that far from being the opposite of science, myth is a central part of it. In brilliant prose, she claims that myths are neither lies nor mere stories but a network of powerful symbols that suggest particular ways of interpreting the world.
ebook, 208 pages
Published September 1st 2005 by Routledge (first published 2003)
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Aug 20, 2015 Trevor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the second Midgley books I’ve read – and I would really recommend this one too. Not least because it makes very clear the problems with ‘memes’ and that is a very important thing to be made clear. I want to talk about the problem of ‘science’ and how we have somehow come to the view that a very particular kind of rational thinking is the criterion for all true knowledge, and even of all worthwhile knowledge. That is a very terrifying idea.

This is a book that stresses that much of what we
Koen Crolla
Jan 17, 2011 Koen Crolla rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Writers of the world: if you're going to write about how all of science is wrong, have the decency to understand at least one of the specific topics you intend to write about.

*Every fucking sentence* in this book is wrong in some way.
She whines about memetics (which apparently says ideas are like alien insects that can be exterminated with the right pesticide), objectivity (apparently the fact that there are degrees of objectivity means that it's an incoherent concept), social contracts (incompa
Joshua Buhs
In general, I am allergic to philosophy. It seems so abstracted from real life as to be meaningless, so caught up in minutiae as to lose track of the things we care about. But philosophical writing did play a role in my intellectual development. Reading Mary Mdigley’s “Science as Salvation” (along with Richard Tarnas’ grant “The passion of the Western Mind”) during one summer in college provoked one of my semi-regular existential crises, and also helped push me out of the sciences and back into ...more
Nancy Schober
I didn't find the writing very accessible. And yes we've swung too far in the direction of reductionism- especially in medicine where the human body is broken down into a series of unrelated parts. But you can't blame science for bad science. And I think Midgley used bad science in some of her examples. (reminds me of the joke of the grain farmer who switched to chickens and didn't know if he should plant them head down or feet down. After the 2nd batch died he calls the university extension to ...more
Gabriel Clarke
Oct 29, 2015 Gabriel Clarke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finished-in-2015
A polemic but a closely argued one. Midgely traces back the intellectual failure of nerve and imagination in the face of issues such as climate change or gender/race/wealth inequalities to the faultline imposed between the (in themselves) problematic categories of mind and body or the civilised and the wild. She shows how certain monomyths colonised our attitudes to science and the humanities and argues that we have to recognise and challenge those myths if humanity is to have any hope of making ...more
Aug 15, 2013 Lance rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy, rhetoric
I didn't actually realize this book was about environmentalism/ecologies until about halfway through. In the process of examining the fundamental premises and conceptual structures that underly our general attitudes towards the earth and animals, Midgley does a nice job exposing the legacy of Cartesian duality in Western philosophy and how that sets up a "disembodied" thinker that can somehow exist outside our ways of knowing, experiencing, and relating to the world. Ironically, this thinker wit ...more
Andrew Langridge
Mary Midgley's instincts on key issues of our time are invariably correct. Her arguments in this collection of essays are well worth exploring and reward futher analysis. Scientific reductionism is her main enemy and her guiding principle is a sort of holism or dual aspect theory for subjective and objective attitudes, with knowledge partial in both spheres. But should not objectivity always be our goal, even if it is ultimately unattainable? In Kantian terms, the subjective is the ground of the ...more
"Myths are not lies. Nor are they detached stories. They are imaginative patterns, networks of powerful symbols that suggest particular ways of interpreting the world. They shape its meaning." I was tracking with Midgley's argument to about 3/4 in, then I found myself wearied under the weight of the "Prometheus" myth which informs (so it seems) the majority of mis-steps humanity has taken in its relation with the world (the 'world' in this work principally being the biosphere and intellectual hi ...more
Evan Morris
May 20, 2013 Evan Morris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If, like so many intelligent people in the modern world, you have drunk the Kool Aid of reductionist materialism, or have otherwise been unfortunate enough to be deceived by the smug and self-promoting cheer leading of the self-proclaimed 'brights', then this book is good medicine.
Oct 06, 2014 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this and really liked it but I cannot find any documentation as to when, which is truly sad as it has only been in the last several years.
May 06, 2016 Lindsey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Clear-cut and a seriously essential read.
Apr 26, 2014 Robert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Philosophy with a passion for action. This is one of the best books I've read. Very accessible, each point is clearly weighed up. Read it if you want a revelation into how we are tricked by myths in every aspect of society. This book o
Is a call to waken up to moral, social, environmental and species responsibility. A call to stewardship (to steal an idea from Genesis but thankfully Midgely does not refer to).
Mark L
Feb 11, 2014 Mark L rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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Mary Midgley is an English moral philosopher. She was a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Newcastle University and is known for her work on science, ethics and animal rights.
More about Mary Midgley...

Other Books in the Series

Routledge Classics (3 books)
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  • The Rule of Metaphor

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“Hubris calls for nemesis, and in one form or another it's going to get it, not as a punishment from outside but as the completion of a pattern already started.” 11 likes
“By contrast, if one conceives the idea of human rights as centring on the notion that each individual is completely autonomous and should have entire control over its own fate, this seems to me unrealistic even for human beings, and far too one-sided to be used as a central tool of morality.” 5 likes
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