In this slim and engagingly personal book, William Barrett attempts to sketch the fate of the self in Western philosophy from the seventeenth through the twentieth century. He variously describes his theme as “the drama of mind within our modern Western civilization,” “the search for the self,” and “the loss of the self in the modern world.” Like Irrational Man (1958), which probably remains Mr. Barrett’s best-known work on philosophy, the present volume is gently existentialist in orientation; like his more recent The Illusion of Technique (1978), it exhibits a deep suspicion of modern science and technology; and like all Mr. Barrett’s work, Death of the Soul is clearly written and easily accessible to the general reader. Mr. Barrett remarks in the course of his discussion that “philosophy loses much of its vitality if it loses contact with...


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