Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Ideas Have Consequences” as Want to Read:
Ideas Have Consequences
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Ideas Have Consequences

4.2  ·  Rating Details ·  813 Ratings  ·  88 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
Hardcover, 190 pages
Published September 28th 1984 by University of Chicago (first published 1948)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Ideas Have Consequences, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Ideas Have Consequences

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Aug 17, 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
Spencer Kashmanian
Before The Closing of the American Mind, there was Ideas Have Consequences. Nearly two decades before Bloom, Richard M. Weaver – rhetorician, Southern agrarian sage, and a founding father of the postwar conservative revival – published this spirited disquisition on the Western intellectual tradition.

Part jeremiad and part prescription, Ideas Have Consequences argues that the 14th-century “defeat of logical realism [by nominalism]…was the crucial event in the history of Western culture.” With phi
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
Douglas Wilson
May 14, 2009 Douglas Wilson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: culture-studies
Top ten.
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
Jan 06, 2010 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
Josh Bauder
Mar 01, 2017 Josh Bauder rated it it was amazing
Weaver's premise is simple. There are two basic worldviews in the history of the West: one that affirms transcendent reality and one that doesn't. In the late 1300s, Weaver argues, the momentum shifted from the former to the latter, and it has remained with the materialists ever since.

We are now, Weaver claims, reaping the final fruits of the materialistic worldview. Most of these fruits take the shape of various losses: the loss of true sentiment, resulting in mere sentimentality; the loss of f
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
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
Jul 08, 2012 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
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
Aug 21, 2013 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.”
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.
Bruno Romano
Richard Weaver é um gênio das palavras, e é certamente um dos homens mais sensíveis que já se propuseram a escrever um livro sobre a dissolução do Ocidente. Ele escreve com o coração na mão, um dom extinto hoje em dia, já que qualquer um que o possua insipidamente é prontamente ensinado a transformar seu texto num enlatado acadêmico tosco.

A introdução é dedicada a persuadir o leitor de que realmente há uma decadência do Ocidente, e por isso ela é valiosa. Por quê? Ninguém parece capaz de perceb
Cadan Mccann
Oct 30, 2016 Cadan Mccann rated it liked it
Nowadays, it's common to hear Republicans complaining about the decline of Western civilization. This isn't a new thing, however, and can be traced back to Richard Weaver's famous 1948 book Ideas Have Consequences.

Ideas Have Consequences was a ten part philosophical treatise by Weaver on an array of topics, including culture, media, modern philosophy, and the movement towards social egalitarianism. Throughout each chapter, Weeaver's overarching argument was that the rejection of old world values
Jan 15, 2017 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enlightening read in the wake of the recent U.S. presidential election. Weaver would probably not be surprised at how things have gone in the almost 75 years since he penned this book (written in 1944; he died in 1963). Very much enjoyed it, but a bit challenging without a background in philosophy.
May 13, 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
Aaron Crofut
Dec 26, 2013 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
Jan 12, 2017 Paul rated it it was amazing
There's more layers of modernity (and postmodernity) debunked here than can be comprehended in one sitting.
Feb 14, 2012 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
May 20, 2012 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
Mar 21, 2013 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
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
Jun 25, 2015 Jacob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Inevitably, some will disagree with Weaver. Maybe even vehemently. But, in spite of his obvious disillusionment with contemporary society, Weaver has valid thoughts regarding the downward slope of modernity and ways in which he envisions the modern world could be saved. The title itself may be all some readers need to be sternly reminded of - that ideas have real consequences and one must be seriously considerate of them. I didn't agree with Weaver on his analysis of art and jazz simply be
Christoffer Skuthälla
Apr 01, 2014 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
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
"[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
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
James Andersen
This book was very insightful, although written long before the current day if the author had been alive today to see the fruition of all things he was setting the alarm over about in seed form back then, he would probably be surprised by how right he was than over all things coming to past. My only issue with him was his treatment of The Golden Mean of Aristotle and into Thomistic thought, claiming that such a system made men less spiritual and more focused on earthly things, I found this treat ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Quest For Community: A Study In The Ethics Of Order And Freedom (Ics Series In Self Governance)
  • The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot
  • Leisure: The Basis Of Culture
  • In Praise of Prejudice: How Literary Critics and Social Theorists Are Murdering Our Past
  • I'll Take My Stand: The South and the Agrarian Tradition
  • Postmodern Times: A Christian Guide to Contemporary Thought and Culture
  • The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945
  • Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals, and Meaning
  • Witness
  • The Idea of a University
  • Christianity and Culture: The Idea of a Christian Society and Notes Towards the Definition of Culture
  • Angels in the Architecture: A Protestant Vision for Middle Earth
  • Eugenics and Other Evils: An Argument Against the Scientifically Organized State
  • The Girard Reader
  • The Closing of the American Mind
  • The Great Tradition: Classic Readings on What it Means to Be an Educated Human Being
  • All God's Children and Blue Suede Shoes: Christians and Popular Culture
  • The New Science of Politics: An Introduction
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...

Share This Book

“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.” 20 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.” 15 likes
More quotes…