Reviews

Revolution in Technology, the Arts, and Politics

"In the end physics will replace ethics just as
metaphysics displaced theology. The modern
statistical view of ethics contributes toward that."

—Soren Kierkegaard

When the historical sequence of men, of societies, of time and thought failed Henry Adams—sequences that might have yielded him some meaning about life—he remarked in The Education that he found himself in the Paris Gallery of Machines at the Great Exposition of 1900, "his historical neck broken by the sudden irruption of forces totally new." But despite such anxieties about the rise of machine culture, between 1850 and 1925 in nearly every area of human activity a machine was introduced, improved, or perfected. The invention of the locomotive, the automobile, the airplane, the reaper, the dynamo, the telegraph, the telephone, the radio, the typewriter, and the sewing machine—together with construction feats like the tunnel, the canal, the suspension bridge, the steel tower, and the skyscraper—all of these transformed Western culture, unarguably for the better. In A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, Twain went so far as to name "the creators of this world—after God" as Gutenberg, Watt, Arkwright, Whitney, Morse, Stephenson, and Bell, the inventors, respectively, of the printing press, steam engine, cotton spinner, cotton...

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