Phoebe's Reviews > The Discoverers: A History of Man's Search to Know His World and Himself

The Discoverers by Daniel J. Boorstin
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Oct 22, 2008

it was ok
Read in August, 2006

While Boorstin identifies the aspects of human culture and interaction that define us over time - our self-created myths - with extraordinary insight and impressive documentation (hey, with the Library of Congress at your feet, research is the easy part) he really misses the point on this one.

In the opening paragraphs of the very first chapter, Boorstin celebrates the destruction of the moon as time-teller, essentially invalidating the entire process of human thought and universe understanding up to the point when we started to number everything according to an absolute (out-of-this-world) math.

This is not to say that numbers, map-making and calendars haven't contributed to our cultural development as well, but rather creates a distance between us and our observed (aka chaotic, uncertain) reality that has evolved into complete isolation from birth, life, death.

I couldn't get past that.
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03/02/2017 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Daniel (new)

Daniel C i have to agree with his viewpoint. boorstin is to
Euro-centric and simplistic in approach. his book would be a great high school seniors or college freshman but once read one has to move on.



Wayne Sure is alot of words, but let me see if I can cut through all the hack and get to the gist.

Are you saying that Boorstein celebration of mans journey from not knowing the world around him to a point in which he is able to perceive the boundaries of world is a bad thing? You would rather remain in the dark, and make up stories?


Phoebe Wayne wrote: "Sure is alot of words, but let me see if I can cut through all the hack and get to the gist.

Are you saying that Boorstein celebration of mans journey from not knowing the world around him to a..."


If you think my review was a lot of words, I'm surprised you could get through the whole book.

In answer to your extremely dismissively worded question: No. That is not what I'm saying.


Wayne Well Boorestein is a bit more engaging in his prose, so if you would be so kind as to break down into smaller thought fragments for simple little me.


Phoebe Wayne wrote: "Well Boorestein is a bit more engaging in his prose, so if you would be so kind as to break down into smaller thought fragments for simple little me."

Boorstin cites the moment that humans broke away from the universal cycle as the impetus for intellectual inquiry. That flippant dismissal of our predecessors' curiosity seems colonialist in its closed mindedness and philosophically provincial.

The conceptual structures that arose from this rejection of the natural flow are no more enlightened than myth; they introduce an additional source of information about the world. It's equivalent to purposely paralyzing one half of your body.

Light and dark are both valuable; we exist in a world that is afraid of the dark.


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