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The Pentagon of Power (The Myth of the Machine, Vol 2)

4.37  ·  Rating Details ·  89 Ratings  ·  6 Reviews
In this concluding volume of The Myth of the Machine, Mumford brings to a head his radical revisions of the stale popular conceptions of human and technological progress. Far from being an attack on science and technics, The Pentagon of Power seeks to establish a more organic social order based on technological resources. Index; photographs.
Paperback, 544 pages
Published March 20th 1974 by Mariner Books (first published 1970)
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Brian
Jan 21, 2008 Brian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone with a brain
The work of Lewis Mumford is incredible. This book is part two of a series, but I much prefer this one. He lays out some concepts that were formative for me and altered and/or greatly refined my outlook on life. His concept of megatechnics and the megamachine is astute. His view is well-rounded, if not a little dated, given his age at the time he was writing. But I have found in few other places such an exhaustive conceptual framework for what is happening in our world vis-a-vis technology. This ...more
Jimmy Ele
Sep 11, 2016 Jimmy Ele rated it it was amazing
This second volume to Lewis Mumford's 2 volume set "The Myth of the Machine" is incredible. It picks up where the 1st volume left off and shuttles us all the way up to the late 60's early 70's. Along the way Lewis Mumford brilliantly deconstructs the motives behind the advancement of technology as well as some of the more sinister and seedier hidden aspects of the society within the machine's psyche.

Modern man's longing for space travel is actually turned upside down in this book and evaluated
...more
Leon M
Jun 09, 2010 Leon M rated it really liked it
Shelves: fromm
In the second part of Lewis Mumford's "Myth of the Machine", he sets out to explore the consequences of the rise of the new sun god science and give an alternative to what he calls the new megamachine - the new organum.

The book starts with Mumford tracing the mechanized world picture present in our society (according to him) back in history to such famous minds as Galileo and Descartes. He explains how these people started a movement that would once lead - without their knowledge - to the creati
...more
Alex
Jun 10, 2007 Alex rated it did not like it

supposed to be an overview of the history of technology, or "technics", except mumford focuses on ideas and beliefs basically the entire book.

he fails to grasp to any satisfactory degree the (actual) reasons behind the events he details, instead focusing almost exclusively on belief-systems as causation.

total lack of understanding of materialist cause-and-effect rationality, to a frustrating degree.
Pat Rolston
Dec 03, 2015 Pat Rolston rated it it was amazing
This is more relevant today than when written 50 years ago. Absolutely a brilliantly written treatise that indicts the relentless quest for technology as trojan horse. The evidence has never been more clear and rather than me site that which is obvious read this incredible book for an intellectually stimulating experience that will long resonate as time well spent.
Seppo
Apr 22, 2012 Seppo rated it it was amazing
I just finished the Pentagon of Power. Mumford presents a broad overview of ancient and modern power relations and how this has lead to the Megamachine now engulfing the world. Still he thinks a renewal of life will rise from the rubble into which he sees we are now descending. His hope is in the purposeful life and its potentialities.
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Lewis Mumford (October 19, 1895 – January 26, 1990) was an American historian and philosopher of technology and science. Particularly noted for his study of cities and urban architecture, he had a tremendously broad career as a writer that also included a period as an influential literary critic. Mumford was influenced by the work of Scottish theorist Sir Patrick Geddes.
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“In short, conquest is in no sense a necessary sign of higher human development, though conquistadors have always thought otherwise. Any valid concept of organic development must use the primary terms of ecology-cooperation and symbiosis-as well as struggle and conflict, for even predators are part of a food chain, and do not 'conquer' their prey except to eat them. The idea of total conquest is an extrapolation from the existing power system: it indicates, not a desirable end, accomodation, but a pathological aberration, re-enforced by such rewards as this system bestows. As for the climactic notion that "the universe will be man's at last"-what is this but a paranoid fantasy, comparable to the claims of an asylum inmate who imagines that he is Emperor of the World? Such a claim is countless light-years away from reality.” 2 likes
“What is more, the whole apparatus of life has become so complex and the processes of production, distribution, and consumption have become so specialized and subdivided, that the individual person loses confidence in his own unaided capacities: he is increasingly subject to commands he does not understand, at the mercy of forces over which he exercises no effective control, moving to a destination he has not chosen. Unlike the taboo-ridden savage, who is often childishly over-confident in the powers of his shaman or magician to control formidable natural forces, however inimical, the machine-conditioned individual feels lost and helpless as day by day he metaphorically punches his time-card, takes his place on the assembly line, and at the end draws a pay check that proves worthless for obtaining any of the genuine goods of life.

This lack of close personal involvement in the daily routine brings a general loss of contact with reality: instead of continuous interplay between the inner and the outer world, with constant feedback or readjustment and with stimulus to fresh creativity, only the outer world-and mainly the collectively organized outer world of the power system-exercises authority: even private dreams must be channeled through television, film, and disc, in order to become acceptable.

With this feeling of alienation goes the typical psychological problem of our time, characterized in classic terms by Erik Erikson as the 'Identity Crisis.' In a world of transitory family nurture, transitory human contacts, transitory jobs and places of residence, transitory sexual and family relations, the basic conditions for maintaining continuity and establishing personal equilibrium disappear. The individual suddenly awakens, as Tolstoi did in a famous crisis in his own life at Arzamas, to find himself in a strange, dark room, far from home, threatened by obscure hostile forces, unable to discover where he is or who he is, appalled by the prospect of a meaningless death at the end of a meaningless life.”
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