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Ideas Have Consequences

4.2 of 5 stars 4.20  ·  rating details  ·  528 ratings  ·  60 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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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
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
Outstanding, 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", and as an example of its kind can hardly be bettered. 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 i ...more
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
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
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
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
Gary Sedivy
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
Weaver argues that modern thought has destroyed the pursuit of what is true and replaced it with various self-seeking isms that have no grounding in a belief in ultimate truth. Instead of seeking to align one's life and behavior with ultimate truth, we are a generation of spoiled brats creating self-serving "truths" that have no lasting value. In other words, the only truth becomes "there is no truth but what advances my interests." This leads to social breakdown and a general feeling of angst.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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 5 of 5 stars
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
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
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
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
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
Alwyn Swanepoel
Fantastic on the chain effect of ideas and already warning against nominalism.
Though this book has a few places that one may cringe in reading this book, recognizing how little we often think about the ideas and concepts we adopt and take for granted due to the cultural environment we're born into, it was definitely refreshing to read. I would recommend this to everyone. The writing is engaging and interesting, even though some of the subject matter is uncomfortable. It really pinpoints the places in our society that things are happening on a daily basis that just don't m ...more
This book is supposed to be a classic conservative work. It didn't resonate with me, although I'm sympathetic to the general perspective.

The author was a Southern, loosely associated with the agrarians, although he taught in Chicago, I believe.

He lost me when he denigrated jazz as so much noise. Love it or hate it, jazz, or some of it, can be quite deep. I don't need to know Weaver's prejudices; I have enough of my own.

Perhaps this is a case of the book judging me, rather than I the book. So be
Christoffer Skuthälla
Superb treatment of the philosophy of nominalism
This book challenges a lot of commonly accepted notions about what is important in life. It is a good re-focus agent when I feel as though my comfort and convenience are the most important things in life. This is about my second or third time through it, and I am still learning from Weaver. I'm not sure if I agree with everything he says about property and the remaining areas in which we can exercise choice, but I certainly agree with his thoughts on specialization, temporal provincialism, and a ...more
A cuttingly sharp and insightful look at modern culture. This book is still applicable today, if not even more so. Pessimistic, cynical, and in many ways right on target. Unfortunately, for all his critiques of culture, Weaver has nothing good to put in place of the bad - Weaver longs for days long gone with some measure of nostalgia. He has little optimism for the future, however. This book would be greatly helped if he had some sense of man's sinfulness and of the theological truths of Christi ...more
Written in 1948, it is deep look at the first causes of our current (last 150 years) cultural sickness, decline in beliefs and standards, and the problems of Modern man. Chapter 5 ("The Great Stereopticon") alone would make this a superb piece of conservative philosophical observation and prescription. One of my favorite quotes on the media: "They are protecting a materialist civilization growing more insecure and panicky as awareness filters through that it is over an abyss".
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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
More about Richard M. Weaver...
The Ethics of Rhetoric The Southern Essays of Richard M Weaver Southern Tradition at Bay Visions of Order: The Cultural Crisis of Our Time In Defense of Tradition

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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.” 9 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.” 7 likes
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