Technics and Civilization

ISBN-10: 0226550273

ISBN-13: 9780226550275

Edition: 2010

Authors: Lewis Mumford, Langdon Winner

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Technics and Civilizationfirst presented its compelling history of the machine and critical study of its effects on civilization in 1934before television, the personal computer, and the Internet even appeared on our periphery. Drawing upon art, science, philosophy, and the history of culture, Lewis Mumford explained the origin of the machine age and traced its social results, asserting that the development of modern technology had its roots in the Middle Ages rather than the Industrial Revolution. Mumford sagely argued that it was the moral, economic, and political choices we made, not the machines that we used, that determined our then industrially driven economy. Equal parts powerful history and polemic criticism,Technics and Civilizationwas the first comprehensive attempt in English to portray the development of the machine age over the last thousand yearsand to predict the pull the technological still holds over us today. "The questions posed in the first paragraph ofTechnics and Civilizationstill deserve our attention, nearly three quarters of a century after they were written."Journal of Technology and Culture
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Book details

Copyright year: 2010
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication date: 10/30/2010
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 528
Size: 6.00" wide x 8.75" long x 1.25" tall
Weight: 1.540
Language: English

Lewis Mumford has been referred to as one of the twentieth century's most influential "public intellectuals." A thinker and writer who denied the narrowness of academic speciality, Mumford embraced a cultural analysis that integrated technology, the natural environment, the urban environment, the individual, and the community. Although he lacked a formal university degree, Mumford wrote more than 30 books and 1,000 essays and reviews, which established his "organic" analysis of modern culture. His work defined the interdisciplinary studies movement, especially American studies; urban studies and city planning; architectural history; history of technology; and, most important in the present context, the interaction of science, technology, and society. Mumford was the editor of Dial, the most distinguished literary magazine of its era, and in 1920 he served as editor of Sociological Review in London and was strongly influenced by Sir Patrick Geddes, the Scottish botanist, sociologist, and town planner. In 1923, Mumford became a charter member of the Regional Planning Association of America, an experimental group that studied city problems from a regional as well as an ecological point of view. Mumford's well-known principle of "organicism" (the exploration of a cultural complex, where values, technology, individual personality, and the objective environment complement each other and together could build a world of fulfillment and beauty) was discussed in all of his work, spanning a career of nearly 70 years. Mumford's first book, The Story of Utopias (1922), introduces reliance on history to understand the present as well as to plan for the future. His books on architectural history and his works in urban studies established Mumford's reputation as the leading American critic of architecture and city planning. Each book views and analyzes the city, or built environment, in the context of form, function, and purpose within the larger culture. Mumford's books are focused on technology's role in civilization, especially "the machine" and "megatechnics." As a result, they have provided formative direction and structure to science, technology, and society studies and have established Mumford's stature as one of the foremost social critics of the twentieth century. Mumford's most profound and important analysis of technology (and the work that most directly influenced interdisciplinary technology-society studies) is the two-volume The Myth of the Machine:Volume 1, Technics and Human Development (1967), and Volume 2, The Pentagon of Power (1970). It was written following World War II (during which Mumford lost his son) after the deployment of atomic weapons by Russia and the United States, and during the arms race. This major work reflects a noticeable reinterpretation of the role of technology and a deep pessimism regarding "megatechnics," a metaphor Mumford uses for intrusive, all-encompassing systems of control and oppressive order. He views the military-industrial complex (the most horrendous "megamachine") as destroyer of the emotive and organic aspects of life. Mumford argues against the loss of personal autonomy and the organic world by electricity-based computer systems. Despite deepening pessimism, Mumford continued to write and to lecture in order to foster the values that could reshape technologies for creative and constructive purposes. He always retained the hope of realizing his vision of the "good life" in which objective and personal worlds complement each other through integration of tools, machines, knowledge, values, skills, and arts. Although Mumford refused to define himself narrowly as a historian, sociologist, urbanist, or architectural critic, he became the ideal interdisciplinary observer to inspire and articulate the contextual study of science, technology, and society.

Introduction to the 1963 Edition
Captions to Images from the 1934 Edition
Cultural Preparation
Machines, Utilities, and "The Machine"
The Monastery and the Clock
Space, Distance, Movement
The Influence of Capitalism
From Fable to Fact
The Obstacle of Animism
The Road Through Magic
Social Regimentation
The Mechanical Universe
The Duty to Invent
Practical Anticipations
Agents of Mechanization
The Profile of Technics
De Re Metallica
Mining and Modern Capitalism
The Primitive Engineer
From Game-Hunt to Man-Hunt
Warfare and Invention
Military Mass-Production
Drill and Deterioration
Mars and Venus
Consumptive Pull and Productive Drive
The Eotechnic Phase
Technical Syncretism
The Technological Complex
New Sources of Power
Trunk, Plank, and Spar
Through a Glass, Brightly
Glass and the Ego
The Primary Inventions
Weakness and Strength
The Paleotechnic Phase
England's Belated Leadership
The New Barbarism
Carboniferous Capitalism
The Steam Engine
Blood and Iron
The Destruction of Environment
The Degradation of the Worker
The Starvation of Life
The Doctrine of Progress
The Struggle for Existence
Class and Nation
The Empire of Muddle
Power and Time
The Esthetic Compensation
Mechanical Triumphs
The Paleotechnic Passage
The Neotechnic Phase
The Beginnings of Neotechnics
The Importance of Science
New Sources of Energy
The Displacement of the Proletariat
Neotechnic Materials
Power and Mobility
The Paradox of Communication
The New Permanent Record
Light and Life
The Influence of Biology
From Destruction to Conservation
The Planning of Population
The Present Pseudomorph
Compensations and Reversions
Summary of Social Reactions
The Mechanical Routine
Purposeless Materialism: Superfluous Power
Co-operation versus Slavery
Direct Attack on the Machine
Romantic and Utilitarian
The Cult of the Past
The Return to Nature
Organic and Mechanical Polarities
Sport and the "Bitch-goddess"
The Cult of Death
The Minor Shock-Absorbers
Resistance and Adjustment
Assimilation of the Machine
New Cultural Values
The Neutrality of Order
The Esthetic Experience of the Machine
Photography as Means and Symbol
The Growth of Functionalism
The Simplification of the Environment
The Objective Personality
The Dissolution of "The Machine"
Toward an Organic Ideology
The Elements of Social Energetics
Increase Conversion!
Economize Production!
Normalize Consumption!
Basic Communism
Socialize Creation!
Work for Automaton and Amateur
Political Control
The Diminution of the Machine
Toward a Dynamic Equilibrium
Summary and Prospect
Prefatory Note
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