On Equilibriumby John Ralston Saul Published 01 Jan 1970
|Publisher||Penguin Books Canada|
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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 different qualities give us the intelligence, self-confidence and ability to think and act as responsible individuals.
Saul argues that when human qualities are worshipped in isolation they become weaknesses, even forces of destruction or self-destruction. In short, they become ideologies. But as he explores the qualities he has identified as being necessary to integrated human behaviour, he shows us that the key is to use these qualities in combination. How can we use these qualities as positive forces in our own lives and in society? How can we use them to reinforce us as humans?
On Equilibrium is an intelligent, persuasive and controversial exploration of the essential qualities of humanity and how to use them to achieve equilibrium for the self and for an ethical society. It is a logical, compelling and humane successor to his bestselling trilogy.
"On Equilibrium" Reviews
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.
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 tendency to repetitive writing will frustrate the reader. It appears that he has reached the pinnacle of a public intellectual -- no-one is willing to tell him to move on. Having attempted to read straight through the book more than once, I have been bogged down by needless repetition each time. As for Equilibrium, Camus expressed the idea much better in the Rebel.
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!
common sense is not common to everyone
Still Reading.. feeling the message
Simply not worth the time. There are some great anecdotes and very insightful material in this book but Saul takes forever to make his point. This is not a distracted 2019 criticism, he take far too long to get to where he is going - 60 page chapters that could be articulated in 20. One reviewer stated that it was a difficult read, it's not actually. Saul regularly quotes literature and other philosophers without context or background. In my mind that is just poor writing, not challenging writing. I shouldn't have to know the background to every work of philosophy or literature to understand what Saul is trying to say.
Bottom line, it could be quite insightful at 130 pages, at 330, it's just annoying.
I learned some good things but largely finished it out of spite. Saul's arrogant pontificating was not going to make me put the book down.
If you've got a lot of time on your hands you'll learn a few things, otherwise there are a lot better books out there.