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Ideas Have Consequences

4.22  ·  Rating Details  ·  620 Ratings  ·  67 Reviews
In what has become a classic work, Richard M. Weaver unsparingly diagnoses the ills of our age and offers a realistic remedy. He asserts that the world is intelligible, and that man is free. The catastrophes of our age are the product not of necessity but of unintelligent choice. A cure, he submits, is possible. It lies in the right use of man's reason, in the renewed acce ...more
Paperback, 198 pages
Published September 28th 1984 by University Of Chicago Press (first published 1948)
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Community Reviews

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Sep 15, 2009 James rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy
Not exactly what I thought it would be. Heard about this back in college and thought it would be more of an exposition on ideas, agency, morality, etc. Which it kind of was, but not in the way I thought.

Weaver's book was written just after WWII, so that needs to be taken into consideration. This book is focused mostly upon the author's ideas of "The decline of the West", which has been addressed by many others. I guess what disappointed me was that instead of focusing on the general theme that i
Mar 31, 2009 Amberleigh rated it it was amazing
An amazing book, honestly. Many of the ideas propounded in the book, I had heard before and kind of taken as my own because they sounded right. However, this book explained the reasoning behind those ideas and really opened my eyes to what I had been blindly believing before. Equality is a bad thing, democracy is harmful, and Ideas do have consequences no matter how innocent they seem. This was the book that gave fuel to my senior thesis. It has proved invaluable and will continue to do so, I am ...more
Sep 30, 2012 Stuart rated it really liked it
This is a book written in 1948 that tries to diagnose the ills of our time. It reminds me in many ways of C.S. Lewis' Abolition of Man. Weaver believes at the root of our troubles are changes that began in the 14th century by Willam of Occam who propounded the idea of nominalism. These ideas are pervasive in the way we tend to view reality, in politics, religion, art, etc. It's a critical book.
He makes quite a few generalizations about our modern age, some of which I don't find convincing, but I
Oct 21, 2015 D.N. rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy, culture, isi
Tightly-written short book on the philosophical origins of the postwar traditionalist conservative movement in the United States. Weaver opens by stating in a matter-of-fact tone that "this is another book about the dissolution of the West." Weaver attacks moral relativism insistently, suggesting that the "denial of everything transcending experience means inevitably…the denial of truth. With the denial of objective truth there is no escape from the relativism of ‘man is the measure of all thing ...more
Nov 12, 2009 Doug rated it it was amazing
Demolishing of all that is egotistic, 'present', ignorant. Despite the author's here and there contradictions which slightly undermine the rigor, this is one of the best reflective works I've read. Pulling no punches for a scholar-gentleman, in a masterfully coherent style.

Of course, my own fragmentary style he would condemn. Rightly so.

Sample chapter titles:

Egotism In Work And Art.
The Great Stereopticon.
Fragmentation And Obsession.

Weaver's treatment of the corruption of language, of "the spoile
Douglas Wilson
May 14, 2009 Douglas Wilson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: culture-studies
Top ten.
Sep 11, 2012 Sally rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Sobering to think this book was written in 1948. Weaver talks about the decline of our society with the clarity of a prophet. From the back cover: "The catastrophes of our age are the product not of necessity but of unintelligent choice. A cure, he submits, is possible. It lies in the right use of man's reason, in the renewed acceptance of an absolute reality, and in the recognition that ideas--like actions--have consequences." It was distressing to realize as I read that we are getting dumber a ...more
Jan 04, 2015 Amber rated it it was amazing
Written in 1948, this book offers a prophetic account of how modernism will lead to the collapse of Western civilization. I freely admit I was lost on some points (dangers of jazz?), but overall this is one of the best books I have read. Weaver offers up counter actions to our predicament, primarily through resisting semantic manipulation, a liberal education, knowing our history, and securing private property. Sixty years later his positions are still valid; one could argue that stronger measur ...more
"[W]e invariably find in the man of true culture a deep respect for forms. He approaches even those he does not understand with awareness that a deep thought lies in an old observance." p.23
"It must be maintained that property rests on the prerational sentiments in that we desire it not merely because it 'keeps the man up'-- this would reduce to utilitarianism-- but because somehow it is needed to help him express his being, his true or personal being. By some mystery of imprint and assimil
Jan 15, 2016 Michael rated it really liked it
Ideas Have Consequences is best understood not as a philosophical work but as a detailed examination of the mental and social consequences of liberalism. Exploring such phenomena as relativism, consumerism, egoism, fragmentation, the spoiled-child syndrome, aversion to work, and related modern trends, Weaver shows how these mental diseases have infected our society, culminating from seeds sown by innovating and leveling social tinkerers, thereby blasting the notion of progress and revealing its ...more
Gary Sedivy
Jun 27, 2014 Gary Sedivy rated it it was amazing
A powerful book. It just so happened that I was reading Schaeffer's "How Then Shall We Live" at the same time I read this one. Both deal with the same issue: the decline of our society, and the roots of that decline. Schaeffer deals with the spiritual ramifications - starting with the influence of the Reformation and the Renaissance on our societies. Weaver, in this book, comes at the same issues from a secular or philosopher's point of view. It is fascinating to see these two authors, in books ...more
May 30, 2015 Matt rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
I'll give this to Weaver. He was bold (the words audacious or audacity were used a lot in the books first reviews). I don't know that I've ever read anything that made me agree and disagree with the author so strongly on so much. Weaver certainly wasn't following anybody's party line. He's inherently conservative and sees decay of civilization all around him--decay he attributes to starting with the fourteenth century's William of Occam! His larger point is that the abandonment of un-empirical t ...more
Jan 13, 2016 Tika rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"There is ground for declaring that modern man has become a moral idiot.”

"We approach a condition in which we shall be amoral without the capacity to perceive it and degraded without the means to measure our descent.”
May 21, 2015 Chris rated it it was amazing
A challenging book in the best sense. While reading it forced me to reconsider long held notions about society and the individual's place in it as well as the social forces that work to shape modern man. Much of the book can be boiled down to the idea that modern man is in a state of moral confusion because of choices society has made and not as part of a natural evolution (or devolution) resulting from progress.

He argues that we have abandoned the very idea of truth and this has fractured our
Sep 22, 2014 Christopher rated it really liked it
Written immediately following World War II as a reaction to the world that had been destroyed and the one that had been festering for 400 years but was then setting fully in motion - a world with a loss of any type distinction, that had abandoned order, that was increasingly fragmented, both in idea and in place - in short, a world occupied by resentful and bitter men that had finally committed parricide.

After a description of the body-laid-bare, Weaver offers three prescriptions that he thought
Aaron Crofut
Apr 18, 2014 Aaron Crofut rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy
This was definitely an interesting book. It made me think. The theme in general is that individualism, materialism, and pop culture in general are destroying the teleological ends that we psychologically require to really function in this world. The Introduction and the chapter on The Great Stereopticon are definitely worth reading in full; in fact, the Introduction was incredible.

The organization could be clearer; there were large segments where I knew I had lost the forest from the trees, but
Christoffer Skuthälla
Jun 24, 2015 Christoffer Skuthälla rated it it was amazing
An eye opening book in many ways. I always knew that democracy was bad from an economic perspective, but Richard Weaver makes the case that democracy also is bad from a moral perspective.

As another reviewer said, there are parallells to the "men without chests" that C.S. Lewis describes in "the abolition of man". Mass democracy will always drive the masses to give up their freedom in exchange for safety. "The great stereopticon" (meaning the governments' propaganda machine) will tell the people
Christopher Rush
It can be frustrating to read a book that is sixty years old and yet more meaningful and relevant today than it was when it orginally came out. Ideas Have Consequences is, unfortunately, such a work. The only people who should read this are those who care more for others and the wellbeing of society than for personal sensual enjoyment. Weaver makes trenchant comments on various categories of life, such as self-centered psychology, the nature of freedom, the importance of proper language/communic ...more
The Thousander Club
May 31, 2013 The Thousander Club rated it liked it
Adam C. Zern shares his thoughts . . .

"I find books in several different ways. One way I like to find books is by reading what others have referenced. I have bought and read several books because they were referenced in a speech or talk. I have bought and read others because they were referenced in another book, and I checked the sources. Richard M. Weaver's book was referenced twice, multiple times in each case, in two books that I enjoyed: Thomas Sowell's A Conflict of Visions and George Roch
Peter N.
Jun 04, 2013 Peter N. rated it it was amazing
It would be difficult to express how much impact this book had on me as I read. As numerous reviewers stated, it is not an easy read. I had to reread numerous paragraphs and sections. But his post WWII analysis of cultural decline was worth the time. Another reviewer mentioned his tight prose, which I also enjoyed. Not a wasted word. As I read, I did not just think about our cultural decline, but I thought about my family, my church, and my own life. I felt rebuked for my slovenly thinking and m ...more
May 08, 2014 Kenneth rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
Great classic of ideological history. Weaver defends the rights of tradition here with eloquence.

Richard M. Weaver has been long considered an important light of the fugitive poets at Vanderbilt. Widely read by conservatives in the Goldwater years, Ideas Have Consequences is an important book even today. Perhaps more so now.

This book represents one of the deepest traditions in American history. The localism of the agrarians is instilled with the gravitas of an uncommon intellect embedded in the
Lance Cahill
Jul 01, 2013 Lance Cahill rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
This book was written shortly after World War II. The author's concerns regarding various practical things - such as the radio, the introduction of vocational education in universities, and the splitting of the atom - are discussed in a wider context of Weaver's critique of what he perceives as the creeping nominalism (rejection of universals and abstract logic) in modernity (pinpointed to around the time of William of Occam). One of the more important parts of Weaver's book is his discussion of ...more
Eduardo Garcia-Gaspar
Sep 11, 2014 Eduardo Garcia-Gaspar rated it liked it
Shelves: filosofía
Publicado en 1948, el autor concibe a su libro como "otro libro más sobre la decadencia de Occidente". De gran éxito en sus tiempos, y con poderosa influencia en la mentalidad conservadora de los EEUU, la obra tiene sus cualidades. Se lee en la superficie como cuando de adolescente se escucha al abuelo despotricar contra los tiempos modernos, su relajamiento moral, su pérdida de valor, su decadencia. Y uno reacciona pensando que el abuelo es un exagerado, otro viejo que no entiende los tiempos m ...more
Nov 09, 2011 John rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011
This book is a marvel. It is an intrusion of a bygone era into the miasma of modernity. It is no wonder that the left loathes Weaver. His is a prophetic voice of denunciation against the tides of modernity assaulting human dignity and personhood.

Weaver argues that the Nominalism of William of Occam has opened the floodgates of relativism, egotism, and sentimentality upon the West, with little traction left for a revival of traditional values.

This is a remarkably dense book. His sentences are a
Charlene Mathe
Jan 14, 2013 Charlene Mathe rated it it was ok
I found this book a real labor to read. I think if he were writing today, this book would be more straight-forward in style. I felt like the author lived in his head and peered down upon the rest of humanity. He made disparaging comments about American soldiers in World War II. So what was he doing while they were fighting? I think he was around 32 when America entered the war. At the same time, he makes many good points. I had to keep reminding myself that he is writing in 1948, because so much ...more
Roma Jones
Sep 17, 2014 Roma Jones rated it liked it
Shelves: read-it-again
Hard read. Mostly just because of the language used. I had to look up a bajillion words. Which was great for my learning and all but it just made for a much slower read. For the most part I understood his approach and what he was trying to say. There were a lot of good gems the resonated well with me. I'm still not quite sure though what exactly he was trying to say when talking about egotisim in art & his view on feminism. I'm all "so like do you not like feminism or do you?" and then he'd ...more
May 18, 2012 Dwight rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
This is a very excellent book. The author's worldview resonates very strongly with my own.

The odd part for me was when he started talking about the dangers of jazz. Just like Plato in The Republic and Bonhoeffer in Life Together, the dangers of music just don't sit right with me. Especially since his point seems to be something like "jazz is rebellion against form". I've heard music that rebels against form and it is terrible. Even so, it seems to me that music and other arts are relatively safe
Aug 28, 2013 Cori rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
Ideas Have Consequences provides a vast amount of food for thought. It is a thesis of sorts on the conservative philosophical beliefs of Richard M. Weaver. Overall, I enjoyed his conservative slant, but I was not surprised to read elsewhere that Richard M. Weaver was a socialist in his youth, even though he became a staunch conservative. There are a few chapters that push a "community" mentality and criticize "individuality," although I understand his reasoning. Overall, it is a highly satisfyin ...more
Jonathan Watson
Nov 15, 2015 Jonathan Watson rated it it was amazing
An everlasting work. One could say work of "social commentary," but to do so, I think, would be to limit its importance and scope.
Alwyn Swanepoel
Nov 21, 2014 Alwyn Swanepoel rated it really liked it
Fantastic on the chain effect of ideas and already warning against nominalism.
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American scholar who taught English at the University of Chicago. He is primarily known as a shaper of mid- 20th century conservatism and as an authority on modern rhetoric. A solitary figure in 20th-century American academic life, briefly a socialist in his youth, a lapsed leftist intellectual conservative by the time he was in graduate school, a teacher of composition, a Platonist philosopher wh ...more
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“Hysterical optimism will prevail until the world again admits the existence of tragedy, and it cannot admit the existence of tragedy until it again distinguishes between good and evil. . . Hysterical optimism as a sin against knowledge.” 15 likes
“The issue ultimately involved is whether there is a source of truth higher than, and independent of, man; and the answer to the question is decisive for one’s view of the nature and destiny of man.” 12 likes
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