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Tools for Conviviality

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  403 ratings  ·  47 reviews
Questo libro analizza la particolare relazione uomo-strumento che si è affermata nel contesto della società industriale.
Paperback, 110 pages
Published July 1st 2000 by Marion Boyars Publishers (first published January 1st 1973)
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Nov 06, 2007 rated it liked it
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. ...more
Bryan Kibbe
Apr 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Jan 12, 2008 marked it as to-read
How to live together without power or dehumanizing each other? Sounds good in my book. I love Ivan Illich.
Jun 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013, education
It is one of the most brilliant book i have ever read in recent time.The book was primarily written for the post industrial era of the west but the book seems more relevant and very appropriate now.He uses the term "Engineering obsolescence" to show how the modern world produces men for the sake of tools once the tools become obsolete the corresponding men also become obsolete and outdated.So the modern world and what he call us "impovershing wealth" with its tools takes away vital skills of the ...more
Q. D.
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
When everyone was a farmer, you simply could not find yourself in your particular line of work. Everyone was a farmer! Illich sees this circumstance as one in which you were forced to find your identity in your character: What kind of farmer are you? That is, what kind of man, or person are you? Are you generous? Are you patient? Are you kind? Are you sober? Are you chaste? Are you temperate? Are you humble?

Just because the modern world is specialized, I see no reason not to look to the way
Daniel Seifert
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 ...more
Kernels of insight buried in piles of manure

An interesting look back at 1970 utopian socialism. Many, if not most of the prescriptions are ridiculous, suggestions such as limiting all transportation to the speed of bicycles or setting maximum and minimum incomes very close.

The book does offer some healthy critiques of technology and its potential for dehumanization (not the language used in the book). Also some of the analysis of institutional structures like education, which is condemned as
Jan 24, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: philosophy
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 ...more
Jul 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Before reading this, I already shared a lot of his theses -- state socialism and capitalism are sides of an industrial coin; it is the structure of growth-focused institutions that is a problem, not who masters the structure; medicine, schooling, and transportation are corrupted and corrupting tools; credentialism and professional-protectionism are damaging society deeply;

But — and — this gave me the opportunity to do much more than self-congratulatorily stroke my pet bailiwick.

Win Win. Within
Jan 26, 2015 rated it it was ok
If you are interested in science and technology studies, this is pretty cool, from a historical standpoint, anyway. If you are not, you will probably be disoriented - as I was - by Illich's occasional casual remarks to the effect that he thinks Mao is doing a great job in China and maybe one day the United States will follow his lead. So.
Oct 15, 2008 added it
Ivan Illich is very smart, and a neglected perspective for radicals that I hope changes. I feel like there are not many people how have a perspective like he does even though he's written a few decades ago now.
The seeds of SonicRim's basic philosophy in respecting, harnessing and empowering the creativity and imagination of everyday people can be found in the brilliant vision of a Convivial Future outlined by Illich
Jul 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This essay takes a critical look at many large systems and structures that we take for granted. Read this if you like to think deeply about how society shapes you.
Dec 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Written in 1973 but so eerily relevant to our world today. “Imperialist mercenaries can poison or maim but never conquer a people who have chosen to set boundaries to their tools for the sake of conviviality”.
Lê Phúc
Dec 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book is a critique to the way specialized knowledge is institutionalized and how technocratic elites play a dominant role in modern society. He claims that basic and fundamental human activities are monopolized by "elite professional groups," which rob indigenous people of their vernacular tools and the skills and know-how they need for survival. He criticizes the dependence that such situation creates, the transformation of humans into obsolete objects, and the emergence of a "modernized ...more
Jun 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Ivan Illich talks about the tools we created. A tool is a mean to achieve a result in a easier matter. Some tools are versatile and enable us to use our creativity and produce an infinity of outputs. Other are very specific, requires training and knowledge. He says not every technology advance results in a better living. Conviviality is what could mesure the real contribution of a given technology.

The book starts with strange examples and even having previously knowledge and interest on the
Jan 27, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: work
The author offers a sketch of convivial society to oppose the current (1970s) utilitarian, consumerist, growth-oriented society.

Tools should be designed and oriented towards conviviality rather than maximum utility because the latter makes tools that are so powerful they eventually enslave us.

I'm not on board with his desires for non-voluntary population reduction (If I followed him correctly) and I'm slightly skeptical that his critique of capitalism is so powerful as to make me want to join
Dec 15, 2007 rated it really liked it
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.

Jan 12, 2014 rated it liked it
Illich argues that technology (broadly interpreted, even including institutions such as education) imposes enormous constraints on how we can live and work together. Industrial technology does not offer tools for conviviality, that would allow us to democratically organize production and nurture each other's development; instead, it largely turns us into parts of a huge machine. We must not only replace capitalism, but also our industrial mode of production. Wow.
MS Glennon
Nov 15, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: credentialled professionals
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.
Rui Coelho
Dec 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
In Tools for Conviviality, Illich critiques the norms, institution, relations and technologies of a productivity-oriented society (socialist or capitalis) while exploring the possibility of the development of tools capable of rebuilding community, common-ownership and autonomy.
Chris Gropp
Dec 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Illich, a catholic priest, anarchist, and general social critic, correctly identifies that our machines possess us (perhaps somewhat like a demon requiring exorcism), and not the other way around as we commonly believe.
Gregory Kaplan
Jan 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Provoking reflection and challenging complacency. A bit of wishful thinking. Many wild assertions. But still a required criticism of tools and the inversion of means and ends.
Jul 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Provocative, challenging and illuminating analysis of our flawed systems.
May 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Ivan Illich is my new Marshall McLuhan.
Linda Mason Hunter
Mar 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A cornerstone of my philosophical library.
Apr 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
I never finished this one, but what I read was fascinating. I think it was an edition from the early or mid seventies.
Sridhar Guda
Feb 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Wonderful book. Relevant even this was written before I took birth.
Jonathan Hockey
Oct 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lot of prophetic insights into our current malaise from a book written back in 1973 when most, if not confident in aspects of the political elite, certainly most still had faith in technological progress and the unqualified goodness of welfare and social state measures. This book explodes the whole faith in technological progress as an unqualified virtue. Showing how this is just the last phase of dependence on an industrial, depersonalised mode of being, of a consumer society that has reached ...more
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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.
“Societies in which most people depend for most of their goods and services on the personal whim, kindness, or skill of another are called underdeveloped, while those in which living has been transformed into a process of ordering from an all-encompassing store catalogue are called advanced.” 12 likes
“Most curable sickness can now be diagnosed and treated by laymen. People find it so difficult to accept this statement because the complexity of medical ritual has hidden from them the simplicity of its basic procedures. It took the example of
the barefoot doctor in China to show how modern practice by simple workers in their spare time could, in three years,
catapult health care in China to levels unparalleled elsewhere. In most other countries health care by laymen is considered a
crime. A seventeen-year-old friend of mine was recently tried for having treated some 130 of her high-school colleagues for
VD. She was acquitted on a technicality by the judge when expert counsel compared her performance with that of the U.S. Health Service. Nowhere in the U.S.A. can her achievement be considered "standard," because she succeeded in making retests on all her patients six weeks after their first treatment. Progress should mean growing competence in self-care rather than growing dependence. 5”
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