I really did like this book. Despite warning myself against it, I find my notes a little too concerned with where Lent did “drive-by” history to make his points, so I’ll change my tack.
With everyone’s permission I would like to open this thread to discussion specifically of the concluding sections of the book: Chapter 20 “Consuming the Earth in the Modern Era” and Chapter 21 “Trajectories to Our Future”. It is here that Lent most eloquently outlines his main quest and I would love to hear opinions on it. Lent, ultimately, would like to see our metaphor for nature change from “MACHINE TO BE ENGINEERED” to “WEB OF MEANING”.
However contributors are able to get a hand on the book and whenever over the next few months it fits into the schedule, if it does, is OK.
But here are some hors d’oeuvres :
“Has our global civilization found itself in [Goethe’s(!)] Sorcerer’s Apprentice dilemma? Has the technological magic unleashed by scientific knowledge placed us on a trajectory accelerating ever faster out of control? Or do we have it within ourselves to find the sorcerer’s spell that can restore harmony in our world?” (p. 375)
“The busy façade of modern life, with its endless flurry of cell phones, sports updates, e-mails, and celebrity news, covers an emptiness that no one wants to feel.” (p.376)
“Once based on tangible objects, money has become an increasingly abstract entity, now residing solely as a symbol in our shared consciousness. And yet, the more abstract it has become, the more powerful its hold over the human trajectory.” (p. 381)
“The story of our civilization’s inadequate response to the threat of climate change is illustrative of how society’s predominant values are at odds with humanity’s own intrinsic well-being.” (p. 392)
“This self-defeating collective dynamic… highlights a crucial flaw in capitalist ideology: the notion that it is inevitably beneficial for society when each person seeks to maximize his own gain. Underlying this notion is an even more fundamental defect of classical economic theory; the assumption that nature is inexhaustible. When the framework of modern economics was developed in the eighteenth century, it seemed reasonable to view natural resources as unlimited because, for all intents and purposes, they were… As we’ve seen, the experience of the past fifty years has proven that assumption to be wrong.” [my italics] (p. 397)