Rather astoundingly large-minded vision of the nature of humanity, civilization, and science, by Borgmann (Philosophy/Univ. of Montana at Missoula). To recap: As if climbing out of the sea and becoming a land creature, man now climbs out of the once modern, now postmodern era into a being that finds him thinning out as he covers more space. The great thinkers and explorers (Bacon, Columbus) came, shattered, and remade the past and changed us all forever. Luther broke the bond to a central authority; Copernicus decentralized us from the sun; Descartes gave us rational method; Locke overthrew the rule of kings and headed us toward individualism and democracy. Then came the rise of industrialism, as the railroad and the corporation squeezed us into the modern era and we split up our spiritual center into work, family, and community, which are now fading before the flood of information technology, TV, and our privileged classes' lack of interest in the poor. And we have lost faith, too, while living in our ``sullen'' postmodern era, with its rampant individualism and meaningless institutions. The more we grasp, the more ghostly our lives: ``The hyperintelligent sensorium, just because it is so acute and wide-ranging, presents the entire world to our eyes and ears and renders the remainder of the human body immobile and irrelevant.'' Borgmann finds hope in once-dying, now reviving Missoula, Montana, where daily city life has real spaces, real people, real tasks, and favors a ``bodily vigorous, richly connected, and securely oriented life.'' It is a place of charms and traditions, festivals and ``the holy game of baseball.'' The author ends with a ringing of church bells in his ``heavenly city'' and calls for all churches to follow Manhattan's St. John the Divine with its commitment to social works. Not a light read—and never disingenuous.
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