Regarding the excellent critique by Michael S. Kimmel in his review (March 27) of Thomas Moore's two books, "Care of the Soul" and "Soul Mates"; If several years in a monastery qualifies anyone to be a theologian, it accounts for Moore's skimming the surface with his observations about soul values, characteristics and desires.

In downgrading the use of the mind and the intellect, Moore is denying one of the greatest gifts possessed by man. Not that mind alone can move us forward but a spirit of inquiry and a willingness to entertain other concepts may lead us into the promised land.

Advancement of civilization comes only from a renewed search for better understanding and that creativity and productivity that derives from a rigorous application, testing and experiencing of what we believe about ourselves as living souls.



Where anything resembling a pattern, a commonality within the soul of humankind, is thought possible, men like sociology professor Michael S. Kimmel put their faith in government instead. According to Kimmel, Moore's ideas about the importance of our relationship to others, if accepted, would depoliticize every day life, which Kimmel says means destruction of "the vision of politics as the promise of collective action to transform the world."

Since he is quick to mention the evils of Reaganomics and the backwardness of conservatism, it is plain that, for Kimmel, collective action means giving power to a few people in government with the appropriate moral outlook who know what's best for everyone and who can then change the world.

A philosophy that says the soul thrives on connection, that the soul needs other people, could upset this grand plan. What if we started caring for one another? An impossibility, says the professor, nothing more than a nostalgic longing for the mythic past, a sop for the downwardly mobile.

But still, there is a small window into Kimmel's heart. Although he is committed to the view that all of us are separate, and thus in need of a unifying collective action, he talks about the hard work of psychoanalysis "that some of us believe is necessary to clear away the layers of defensive armor." I take it that he is aware that the unconscious part of us is at least similar if not actually connected.

Kimmel says the downwardly mobile seek solace "because the rewards of wealth and power are no longer available" and didn't work anyway. Where has he learned this crippled view of life? Who has given him the platform from which to preach it? Today, people pay him and others of like mind to define reality, but who will pay them tomorrow?



Kimmel was informative in "Soul Man", until he concluded that Moore "wants us to feel good, not do good." But Moore knows that good feelings can make for good actions. Witness his deed as an author.

Kimmel's is the same argument that asserts that a belief in the unity of things make us amoral or indiscriminate. Or that meditation is stupor. Or that home is not the real world. Actually, wakefulness and activity follow from rest. And life at home echoes abroad. Understanding empowers the individual, which is hardly without social consequence. Kimmel's is a purely intellectual reading. He mistakes the sign for the road, a classic symptom of lack of soul.



Something obviously happened to Kimmel on the way to his Ph.D. in sociology: He lost the ability to recognize the soul, in the analysis of the work. Often happens to the over-educated, formalized intellectuals, the very point Moore is addressing in "Care of the Soul" 's section of "Ideas With Soul"!


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