Ishmael

Introduction

Ishmael is a 1992 philosophical novel by Daniel Quinn. It examines the mythological thinking at the heart of modern civilization, its effect on ethics, and how this relates to sustainability and societal collapse on the global scale. The novel uses a style of Socratic dialogue to deconstruct the notion that humans are the pinnacle of biological evolution. It posits that anthropocentrism and several other widely accepted modern ideas are actually cultural myths and that global civilization is enacting these myths with catastrophic consequences. The novel was awarded the $500,000 Turner Tomorrow Fellowship Award in 1991, a year before its formal publication.

Ishmael ultimately comprises a loose trilogy, including a 1996 spiritual sequel, The Story of B, and a 1997 followup, My Ishmael. Quinn also details how he arrived at the ideas behind Ishmael in his autobiography, Providence: The Story of a Fifty-Year Vision Quest. Yet another related follow-up book to Ishmael is Quinn's 1999 short treatise, Beyond Civilization.


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