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Philosophy Political

Modern Classics: Voltaire's Bastards

The Dictatorship Of Reason In The West

by (author) John Ralston Saul

Penguin Group Canada
Initial publish date
Aug 2014
Political, Social, Rationalism
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2014
    List Price

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In this provocative analysis of modern society, John Ralston Saul shows that throughout the West there is a crisis, due largely to our blind faith in reason. Instead of a basis for ethical behavior, reason is often reduced to mere practicality. If we continue to allow process-minded experts, “Voltaire’s bastards,” to run society, we risk the breakdown of our legal, financial, and cultural systems, thus endangering our societies. 

About the author

John Ralston Saul is one of Canada’s leading social and political commentators. He is the author of numerous books on philosophy and contemporary politics, including Voltaire’s Bastards, Reflections Of A Siamese Twin, and most recently The Collapse of Globalism. Saul was the Massey lecturer in 1995, and won the 1996 Governor General’s Award for nonfiction for The Unconscious Civilization, based on those lectures. He is the former president of PEN Canada and the creator of the acclaimed LaFontaine Baldwin Lecture series. A regular speaker and panelist across Canada and internationally, John Ralston Saul currently lives in Toronto.

John Ralston Saul's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“Rejecting the exhausted stereotype of Left versus Right, [Saul] opens up new lines of enquiry and creates new constellations of meaning. With his sophisticated international perspective and blunt freedom from cant, he offers a promising persona for the future: the intellectual as a man of the world.” - Camille Paglia, The Washington Post

“John Ralston Saul takes his readers on a passionate and personal tour of the follies of our age. The banner of Reason, he claims, can as easily lead to disaster as to victory. Scientists are only one of the groups that can readily identify with this argument.” - John C. Polany, winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, 1986

"Saul has decided to take the axe to the root and to challenge the assumption that our method is one of rational choice.” - Christopher Hitchens, New York Newsday

Voltaire’s Bastards may be one of those rare books that changes the way society sees itself.” - Maclean's

“The central thesis of this erudite and brilliantly readable book is that we have now fallen under the insidious grip of the third major ideology of the twentieth century: corporatism's outstanding piece of polemic, which at heart is a plea for a return to a now forgotten set of humanistic values, should, at very least, be read by those who are responsible for determining the curriculum. It might remind them that education is more about teaching people how to read and write. After all, there's not much point in learning to do either if it merely enables you to understand the next redundancy better.” - The Observer (U.K.)

“This book is so welcome, and so necessary. This is, at the very least, an aid to self-examination, and frankly, anyone who chips away at the corporate wall needs a helping hand.” - The Guardian (U.K.)

“A whole new way of looking at the political mess we currently inhabit.’” - Chicago Tribune

Other titles by John Ralston Saul