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The Arrogance of Humanism

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  45 ratings  ·  6 reviews
An inquiry into the origins, dissemination, and consequences of the modern belief that humans can solve any problem and overcome any difficulty, given time and resources enough.
Paperback, 304 pages
Published February 5th 1981 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published January 1st 1981)
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This is now one of my very favorite non-fiction books. It very succinctly put humanism (i.e., human supremacy) in its very ugly little place. The best chapter by far was number 7; Ehrenfeld eviscerates liberals -- which arrogantly believe themselves to be different than conservatives. On the surface this may be true, but underneath in the depths of truth, liberals are just the other side of the same human supremacist coin. The same chapter puts paid to communism and by extension paints socialist ...more
Aug 14, 2011 John marked it as to-read
Review: David Ehrenfeld, The Arrogance of Humanism, Oxford University Press, 1981

I bought this book when I was a graduate student in Oxford. That must have been rather soon after it was published, though my memory is that the copy I still own was bought second-hand or remaindered. Perhaps this book’s uncompromising message meant that it was far from popular.

One possible conclusion should be cleared up at the start. At that time, many books and articles could be found which aimed to mobilize ev
Not a bad look at the role our obsession with technology and development has had on our species and our interactions with the world. However, this book is rather dated, and the author tends to emphasize Cold War examples. Also, he advocates, what seems to me to be, the precautionary principle, which in its standard form, is incomprehensible in inconsistent and incomprehensible from a logical point of view. Instead of arguing for the precautionary principle, he should have supported the applicati ...more
This is not a religious screed against the non-religious. It describes how most of us have untested tenets within our normal operating mind, some of which have no more "scientific basis" than religions. Which makes it another sort of faith--faith in humanity, or the scientific method, or what have you.

The leads to a belief that we can solve any problem with science, or engineering or politics--when our history is that we have nearly always produced quasi-solutions, with residual problems that a
My husband gave me this book over 20 years ago. It's one that shifted the way I think about technology and has informed my point of view ever since.
Opened my mind in the most amazing and memorable "aha!" moment I think I've ever had while reading.
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American professor of biology at Rutgers University, New Jersey.
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