Confronting the dilemmas of modernist and postmodernist thought, Roger Kimball in this new collection of his work explores the literary and philosophical underpinnings of modernity as well as the state of our culture today. Experiments Against Reality displays the sophistication, breadth of knowledge, and clarity of argument that have made Mr. Kimball one of the most trenchant critics of our contemporary culture. He begins by considering the influential poet and theorist T. E. Hulme, and shows how the work of Eliot, Auden, Wallace Stevens, Robert Musil, Elias Canetti, and others can be seen as efforts to articulate a convincing alternative to the intellectual and spiritual desolations of the age. Turning to the philosophical tradition, Mr. Kimball suggests how figures from Mill and Nietzsche to Bertrand Russell, Wittgenstein, Sartre, Heidegger, Foucault, and Roger Scruton have addressed ― or in many cases evaded ― the defining moral imperatives of modernity. Finally he steps back to consider more generally the career of contemporary culture ― the trivializing nature of the contemporary art world; the academic attack on historical truth and scientific rationality; the fate of the "two cultures" controversy. "Enlightenment," Mr. Kimball writes, "sought to emancipate man by liberating reason and battling against superstition. But reason liberated entirely from tradition has turned out to be rancorous and hubristic ― in short, something irrational." Experiments Against Reality offers continuing evidence of Mr. Kimball's stature as one of our most important cultural critics.
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