History, Guilt & Habit
This brief, accessible book (from lectures given on the West Coast of North America) outlines Barfield's primary ideas: the distinction between the history of ideas and the evolution of human consciousness; a discussion of modern idolatry, the literalness of language, and feelings of guilt; and the danger of mental passivity becoming habit.
The new edition includes 'Evolution', Barfield's only essay on physical evolution and how it relates to the evolution of consciousness.
“ You can dig into the earth with a spade in order to get beneath the surface. The spade is itself a product of the earth, but that does not bother you. But if, by some mysterious dispensation, the spade were part of the very path of earth you were splitting up, you would be rather nonplussed, because you would destroy the instrument by using it. And that is the sort of difficulty you are up against when it is not the earth you are digging into, but consciousness; and when it is not a spade you are digging with, but language. . . . However quickly you turn around, you can never see the back of your own head. ”
Table of Contents
History of Ideas: Evolution of Consciousness
Modern Idolatry: The Sin of Literalness
The Force of Habit