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Myth of the Machine: Technics and Human Development

4.11  ·  Rating Details  ·  141 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
Mumford explains the forces that have shaped technology since prehistoric times and shaped the modern world. He shows how tools developed because of significant parallel inventions in ritual, language, and social organization. “It is a stimulating volume, informed both with an enormous range of knowledge and empathetic spirit” (Eliot Fremont-Smith, New York Times). Index;
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Paperback, 352 pages
Published September 29th 1971 by Harvest/HBJ Book (first published 1967)
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Jimmy Ele
Rarely do I add a book to the Uber Favorites shelf prior to finishing it. The amount of erudition, depth, focus, and writing ability that the author employs is astounding. Every paragraph is like a box of encrypted thought that holds magnificent images once deciphered. The bird's eye view of the history of mankind that is enabled in the mind, translated faithfully from the author to the mind of the reader gives an exhilarating view of the development of man and (through man) the emergence of the ...more
metralindol
Aug 30, 2013 metralindol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
книга, яка лишає змішані відчуття, хоч і переважно приємні. можливо, вартувало читати її паралельно з іншими дослідженнями і не розтягувати процес у часі. тим не менше, дочитати вдалося, чотири зірочки поставлено, але в надії прочитати "Міф машини" колись іще раз, із конспектуванням.
масштабність розмаху книги співставна із задумом Джареда Даймонда у "Зброї, мікробах та сталі", коли не більша. Правда, Люїс Мамфорд менш акцентує на цифрах і всьому, що потребує чіткості й тривкості статистики. Одна
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Neil
Apr 17, 2013 Neil rated it it was amazing
This book makes more sense in the context of the intellectual environment to which Mumford was responding in the early to mid 20th century. Many prominent thinkers (including Mumford himself in the 1930s) were primarily concerned with explaining the development of humanity ("the rise of man", as they said in the pre-feminist era) principally in terms of tool use. Humanity's distinguishing feature, that which separated humans from the "lower" animals, was this adaptability in tool use.

Against thi
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Dylan
Jan 26, 2009 Dylan rated it liked it
After one false start three or four years ago, I picked this up again early last year. I'll admit, it was pretty rough going for me, but that's largely because the first half of the book doesn't concern the "megamachine"--my main interest in Mumford's thought. His roundabout phrasing structure also makes for reading that sometimes feels something like a maze and can be difficult to settle into. There were still enough significant insights to justify reading it. Some standouts below.

Mumford on th
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Leon M
May 30, 2010 Leon M rated it really liked it
Shelves: fromm
In the "Myth of the Machine", Lewis Mumford depicts his version of human development from a hunter-gatherer society to our present, technology focused society.

The first interesting idea mentioned is the thought that language and rituals were far more important to human development than tool-making, which only followed when the cultural context allowed for it. Mumford discusses in depth the influence of dreams on early human development and comes to the conclusion that language worked as a tool t
...more
Dave
Sep 25, 2014 Dave rated it liked it
Mumford was definitely ahead of his time. This is too dated for me to say I'd actually recommend it at this point though.
Bryan Kibbe
Sep 15, 2011 Bryan Kibbe rated it really liked it
I continue to enjoy reading Lewis Mumford. He is both a versatile and expansive thinker, and his writing is often punctuated by interesting images and comparisons. The Myth of the Machine is part 1 of a 2 volume series, and it represents a different tone then his earlier work, Technics and Civilization. Nonetheless, I found Mumford's concept and account of the megamachine to be thought provoking and I look forward to reading the second volume (The Pentagon of Power).
Carl Stevens
Jul 11, 2013 Carl Stevens rated it really liked it
The themes stretching back over millennia are still powerful even if an occasional contemporary reference is 45 years out of date. I read this as background for a novel I am writing about a character who will "remember" the ancient history Mumford elucidates so well.
Nathalie
Jan 13, 2008 Nathalie rated it really liked it
'I have taken life itself to be the primary phenomenon, and creativity, rather than the `conquest of nature,’ as the ultimate criterion of man’s biological and cultural success.' (Myth of the Machine, xi) ...more
Mel
Jun 13, 2014 Mel marked it as to-read
Shelves: library
I just don't have the energy to read this right now. I can tell from the first chapter that it will be interesting, though. Setting it aside until I have the brainspace to properly process it.
DryTung
Sep 13, 2014 DryTung rated it liked it
The Myth of the Machine addresses our relationship with technology. I found Mumford's consideration of dance and dreams as catalysts to human evolution refreshing.
Patrick\
Apr 16, 2008 Patrick\ rated it liked it
Shelves: architecture
A bit of an over-reach from his usual solid perspective. Sort of like C. S. Lewis when he strays into minutiae from the one big picture he knows so well.
Owen
An analysis well ahead of its time. Chapters 9 and 10 are particularly important.
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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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“Common sense was exactly what kingship, almost by definition, lacked: when the king's orders were executed no one dared to tell him honestly how they had turned out. With the absolute powers bestowed by kingship came an arrogance, a ruthlessness, an inflexibility, a habit of compulsion, an unwillingness to listen to reason, that no small community would have endured from any of its members-though the aggressive and humanly disagreeable qualities that make for such ambitious leadership might be found anywhere-as Margaret Mead discovered among the Mundugumor, whose leaders were known to the community as "really bad men," aggressive, gluttonous for power and prestige.” 1 likes
“But we must not overlook the vital connection between all physical movement and the acquisition of speech, for this has now been established independently by psychologists. In the case of children whose speech has been retarded or has become disordered, they have found that the child's ability to handle words can be recovered by re-training his motor behavior through inducing him to resume the earlier posture of crawling, the stage that usually accompanies, or slightly precedes, the first efforts at speech.” 1 likes
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