134th out of 230 books — 202 voters
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Illich is an author that I frequently find being quoted by numerous authors that I value and respect. It was time for me to read directly from the source. This book was originally published in 1973, but it has stood the test of time, and Illich's insights into the nature of present day technologies and the need for fundamental technology reform are as relevant today as they were then. At the core of Illich's argument is a call to develop and implement technologies that promote and sustain the cr...more
May 09, 2011 DJ Seifert rated it 4 of 5 stars
Having read this again in my mid-life and after seeing with more open eyes the manipulative and oppressive state and culture of government, institutions and corporations, while experiencing a more intentional simple life by choosing the harder way (e.g., gardening, a using a bike as alternative transportation) I am beginning to parse services and products on a continuum between convivial and manipulative while tracking aspects that give them their place on the range of these two terms. This exer...more
Having a rather anti-professional stance myself, I was happy to come across Illich's work. He raises a lot of interesting issues and ideas. His basic premise is that over-industrialization has fashioned us into dependent clients of a professional elite. Or, in other words, our tools (using "tools" in the broadest sense, meaning both industry and social systems) have developed beyond our ability to use them as individuals/communities. We cannot learn on our own; we cannot heal on our own; etc. Sa...more
Much as I find Illich's social aims to be congruent with my own I still couldn't get into this book. As radical as Illich is (or is known to be) I found his views almost conservative in this book. For one there's a distorted romanticism with the past, as in admiring the builders of the pyramids because they were physically invested in their labor, as opposed to it being mediated by technology; ancient Egypt hardly seems like a beacon for a progressive labor movement. Also rolled my eyes at a "co...more
One of the more important works by Ivan Illich (others include Deschooling Society and Energy and Equity. He argues for reigning in our technology/tools to support a more livable (convivial) society. He asks us to consider what has been lost in the shift from manual power to fuel power (e.g. walking to cars, hand saw to chainsaw, etc.). His critique of society is fairly fundamental and forces us to acknowledge our underlying operating assumptions.
This is an incredibly dense book with some big thinking. In some ways a typical book from the 70s, but therefore no less urgent today. I would love to have conversation with Illich debating in which ways the Internet and the web are convivial tools and where their risks lie. Next up is Deschooling Society.
Illich's usual fair of gadfly anarchism and pseudo-empirical observations on the immanent collapse of western society under the weight of its radically monopolizing institutions. Read him, get a little drunk, if you can figure out a way to apply it, use it as a hermeneutic, or reference, by all means do so...but most people don't.
Ivan Illich was an Austrian philosopher, Roman Catholic priest and critic of the institutions of contemporary western culture and their effects of the provenance and practice of education, medicine, work, energy use, and economic development.More about Ivan Illich...