"How did we come to a modern understanding of our bodies and souls? ... Roy Porter charts how, through figures as diverse as Locke, Swift, Johnson, and Gibbon, ideas about medicine, politics, and religion fundamentally changed notions of self"--p.  of jacket.
Flesh in the Age of Reason is wonderful. I mean, I cannot give this book enough credit. One can easily find books on various aspects of Enlightenment period philosophy. Adams, Hume, Locke, et al., are easy to find. But, put into context with their day, their battles with each other, and the growth of their ideas in that context is something not as easily found.
Roy Porter passed away just after finishing and publishing this work and it is a fitting end to his career. In fact, in retrospect, it seems a fitting exploration for one on the verge of death himself. Was Porter, aware that the end of his days was approaching, was he seeking to locate that final truth? I cannot say, but he certainly gave the rest of us who are still shuffling about this mortal coil a great resource to assist us in our own search.
This book neatly "historicizes" the ebb and flow of Enlightenment philosophy and gives us all something to think about.
Thanks Roy Porter and R.I.P.
Read June 2007