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On Equilibrium

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  210 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
What does John Ralston Saul's influential philosophical trilogy Voltaire's Bastards, The Doubter's Companion and The Unconscious Civilization mean for the real lives of individuals? Is it possible to apply his groundbreaking theories to everyday life?

On Equilibrium presents us with a virtual "how to"of the ways that ideas can translate into action. Saul explains how our di
Hardcover, 370 pages
Published 2001 by Penguin Books Canada
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Verity Bracken
Dec 02, 2011 Verity Bracken rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People interested in philosophy, history, humanism, complexity
Recommended to Verity by: My Teenage Self
I first read On Equilibrium in my early twenties and I remember it making quite an impression on me. Now in my mid-thirties I've decided to re-read it to see if I feel the same way about it.

John Ralston Saul's earlier books argue that Reason and Rationality hold too much influence over Western Society, an influence that has spun out of control to the extent that Reason has become another ideology ruined by it's own dogma, easily manipulated by people seeking power for it's own sake. In On Equil
Nov 05, 2009 Andre rated it really liked it
Shelves: social
It's a fairly hard read, but the author's insights are both valuable and timely. I'd recommend it to anyone that feels/believes that our society often behaves in an irrational manner, that contradicts what one might expect from an "intelligent" species.
H Wesselius
Not his best. In Voltaire's Bastards he produced a seminal original work illustrated by historical detail and in Unconscious Civilization he extends his ideas advocating for history, memory etc to compliment reason as opposed to being subjected by reason. Unconscious Civilization originated from the Massey Lectures a format that served the book well as it forced Saul to compress and tighten his ideas. In On Equilibrium he clearly needed someone or something to provide focus and brevity. His tend ...more
Ranmalee Gamage
Jan 14, 2011 Ranmalee Gamage marked it as to-read
Shelves: must-continue
Still Reading.. feeling the message
Mar 12, 2016 Vince rated it liked it
Shelves: dnf
I started this some years back - perhaps 2010. I enjoyed his remarks about the need to avoid elevating virtues in isolation - and the risks of doing so. His criticism of worshiping reason and discussion of its limitations was well-founded and has stuck with me.

Weighty stuff and I didn't get very far before my interests moved on. Three stars.
Harper R
Jun 15, 2011 Harper R rated it it was amazing
This is such an important book to read in these times. A sobering yet inspiring fidelity to shared forms of common sense that are what we need to look at to handle today's challenges in an ethical and intelligent manner. It is also a great antidote to narcissism tendencies in self-improvement ideologies.

I believe that the only true flowering from this book will come if more people talk about it. So I give this a strong recommendation to be recommended to others!
Sep 02, 2008 Mike rated it really liked it
A good (but hard) read on gaining various insights to the human experience. Recommended when one is in an introspective mood.
Oct 19, 2015 Huyen rated it liked it
The chapters on Ethics and Common Sense are excellent and insightful, the rest put me to sleep.
Keith Seekwhence
Jun 23, 2009 Keith Seekwhence marked it as to-read
Has been sitting on my shelf for some time and I haven't given it a proper read. Getting to it.
May 06, 2009 Seligne rated it it was ok
I tried, but could not make head or tails of this book's point.
Oct 05, 2007 Matt rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people with a good vocabulary
common sense is not common to everyone
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John Ralston Saul is a Canadian author, essayist, and President of International PEN. As an essayist, Saul is particularly known for his commentaries on the nature of individualism, citizenship and the public good; the failures of manager-, or more precisely technocrat-, led societies; the confusion between leadership and managerialism; military strategy, in particular irregular warfare; the role ...more
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“We all need a bit of self-delusion. It gets us over the difficult spots." - John Ralston Saul, On Equilibrium” 2 likes
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