When Souls Had Wings Pre-Mortal Existence in Western Thought

ISBN-10: 0199916853
ISBN-13: 9780199916856
Edition: 2012
Authors: Terryl L. Givens
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Description: The idea of the pre-existence of the soul has been extremely important, widespread, and persistent throughout Western history--from even before the philosophy of Plato to the poetry of Robert Frost.When Souls Had Wingsoffers the first systematic  More...

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Book details

List price: $28.95
Copyright year: 2012
Publisher: Oxford University Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 4/1/2012
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 400
Size: 6.25" wide x 9.25" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 1.298
Language: English

The idea of the pre-existence of the soul has been extremely important, widespread, and persistent throughout Western history--from even before the philosophy of Plato to the poetry of Robert Frost.When Souls Had Wingsoffers the first systematic history of this little explored feature of Western culture.Terryl Givens describes the tradition of pre-existence as "pre-heaven"--the place where unborn souls wait until they descend to earth to be born. And typically itisseen as a descent--a falling away from a happier and untroubled state into the turbulent and sinful world we know. The title of the book refers to the idea put forward in antiquity that our souls begin with wings, and that only after shedding those wings do we fall to earth. The book not only traces the history of the idea of pre-existence, but also captures its meaning for those who have embraced it. Givens describes how pre-existence has been invoked to explain "the better angels of our nature," including the human yearning for transcendence and the sublime. Pre-existence has been said to account for why we know what we should not know, whether in the form of a Greek slave's grasp of mathematics, the moral sense common to humanity, or the human ability to recognize universals. The belief has explained human bonds that seem to have their own mysterious prehistory, salved the wounded sensibility of a host of thinkers who could not otherwise account for the unevenly distributed pain and suffering that are humanity's common lot, and has been posited by philosophers and theologians alike to salvage the principle of human freedom and accountability.When Souls had Wingsunderscores how durable (and controversial) this idea has been throughout the history of Western thought, the theological dangers it has represented, and how prominently it has featured in poetry, literature, and art.

Prologue
Introduction
Ancient Near Eastern Traditions
Classical Variants
Philo to Christian Beginnings
Neo-Platonism and the Church Fathers
Augustine and the Formation of Orthodoxy
Middle Ages to the Renaissance
Cambridge Platonists and the Miltonic Heritage
The Eighteenth Century and the Cartesian Aftermath
Philosophy and Theology 1800-1900
Romanticism and Transcendentalism 1800-1900
Pre-Existence in the Modern Age
Parallel Paradigms
Epilogue

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