a bridge to the 18th century

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Building a Bridge to the Eighteenth

Neil Postman identifies himself as a “neo-Luddite”.
What bothers Postman most is the fact that the great innovators of this time have no frame of reference other than their own experience, and that experience is only that of the 20th century. Advocates of trends such as information superhighways and economic globalization appear to know nothing of history, philosophy and culture; they live digitally in the hollow present. Postman assesses different ideas in each chapter:
Chaper One: A Bridge to the Eighteenth Century Postman heralds the accomplishments of personalities of the 18th Century, including Goethe, Voltaire,
Rousseau, Diderot, Kant, Hume, Gibbon, Paine,
Jefferson
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He examines the perspectives which our language forces us to view situations from and alerts the reader that our language creates an invisible bias in our thinking.
Chapter Five: Information “Information” is a relatively modern noun, and
Postman argues that if one searches hundreds of eighteenth century indexes for the term he will not find a listing for it, even though much information and knowledge was gained during the enlightenment.
Postman warns against viewing information as a secular entity that is not involved in a larger context of wisdom, knowledge, and purpose.
Chapter Six: Narratives Postman states that the narratives of the 20th and
21st centuries should not cause us to view prior narratives and philosophies in a derogatory or condescending light. Quoting Niels Bohr, Postman writes, “The opposite of a correct statement is an incorrect statement. The opposite of a profound truth is another profound truth.” Postman says that we should consider the values of other cultures’ and eras’ vision of Truth to make true progress and attain true wisdom.
Chapter Seven: Children Postman stresses the importance of a childhood, a concept that Postman thinks is disappearing from our culture. Chapter Eight: Democracy Basically reiterating some themes from his chapter on language and also highlighting the works of Rousseau and Tocqueville, Postman emphasizes that we should acknowledge that…

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