THE COMING OF THE GOLDEN AGE: A View of the End of Progress by Gunther S. Stent

THE COMING OF THE GOLDEN AGE: A View of the End of Progress

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Gunther Stent is a molecular geneticist philosophically considering what lies ahead for man in the arts and sciences. He believes that some of man's entrenched concepts are about to be consumed in their own fire. Thus ""progress,"" the belief that mankind is headed for a better world, was a post-Enlightenment phenomenon which went hand in hand with the Nietzschean will to power and the Faustian personality. Inculcating children with the work ethic, deriving satisfaction from the conquest of ""hostile"" nature, were characteristic of western civilization in the past 200 years but now, owing to an accelerating rate of success, ""progress"" and these related concepts are fast reaching an end. Faced with an affluent society and a supreme technology there is a lessening of drive in the new generation; an anti-rational attitudes, a negative feedback exemplified by the Beats and hippies. The ""meaningful statements"" of the arts and science have led to today's ""meaninglessness""; i.e. the random approaches of aleatory music, antinovel novels and action painting. The analyses and arguments are provocative but not conclusive (how does the recent ""beautiful"" group experience of today's rock festival celebrants jibe with the inner-directed anti-social drug experience?). Mr. Stent is on firmer ground when he reviews the ""rise and fall"" of molecular genetics from classical through romantic, dogmatic and currently academic phases. This section has considerable historical value and philosophical insight.

Pub Date: Nov. 28th, 1969
Publisher: Doubleday