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Each thought and thing allied Lewis Mumford on technics
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Name Lynne Hissey,Degree Master of Arts Communication. Title of thesis Each Thought and Thing Allied Lewis Murnford on Technics and Society. Examining Committee,Chairman Dr Martin Laba,Dr William Leiss. Senior Supervisor,Dr paid Heyer,Associate Professor. Prof Liora Salter,Associate Professor,Dr Stephen Straker. Assistant Professor,Department of History,University of British Columbia.
External Examiner,Date Approved 25th September 1986. PARTIAL COPYRIGHT LICENSE, I hereby g r a n t t o Simon Fraser U n i v e r s i t y t h e r i g h t t o lend. my t h e s i s p r o j e c t o r extended essay t h e t i t l e o f which i s shown below. t o users o f t h e Simon Fraser U n i v e r s i t y L i b r a r y and t o make p a r t i a l o r. s i n g l e c o p i e s o n l y f o r such users o r i n response t o a reqbest from t h e. l i b r a r y o f any o t h e r u n i v e r s i t y o r o t h e r educational i n s t i t u t i o n on. i t s own behalf o r f o r one o f i t s users I f u r t h e r agree t h a t permission. f o r m u l t i p l e copying o f t h i s work f o r s c h o l a r l y purposes may be granted. by me o r t h e Dean o f Graduate Studies I t i s understood t h a t copying. o r p u b l i c a t i o n o f t h i s work f o r f i n a n c i a l g a i n s h a l l n o t be a l lowed. w i t h o u t my w r i t t e n permission, T i t l e o f h e s i s P r o j e c t E x t e n d e d Essay. Each Thought and Thing Allied Lewis h f o r d on,Technics and Society. Lynne Hissey,September 25 1986, This thesis examines the work of Lewis Mumford 1895 in an attempt to assess his contribution to the.
study of the social history of technology This examination entails a consideration of Mumford s own. work as well as an effort to contextualize his thought historically An American scholar who is a. self professed generalist Mumford has published more than twenty books in a variety of areas over. the last fifty years Still there has been no full length critical study of his works published. This thesis therefore begins with a general introduction to the range and scope of Mumford s. intellectual pursuits This is presented in the form of two sketches the first biographical and the second. bibliographical The consideration of Mumford s thought on the question of technology deals with his. core works on the subject Technics g Civilization Art and Technics and The Myth of the Machine. Three primary overlapping themes are found to unite Mumford s work These themes are The Critique. of Industrial Society The Critique of False Dichotomies and the Renewal of Life Mumford argues that. the contemporary world is characterisec by a series of artificial divisions In particular the Machine. Age overemphasises the objective technological aspects of our lives and actively devalues the. subjective and organic elements of existence renewal of life demands a reunification of these. elements in a dynamic equilibrium, An examination of Mumford s primary sources reveals a hidden tradition of communication. thought which begins with Ralph Waldo Emerson and continues with John Ruskin Henry Adams. Thorstein Veblen and Mumford s Master Patrick Geddes Mumford s debt to these thinkers is. elucidated through an examination of their major works Several themes are found to unite these diverse. and marginal thinkers a sense of civilization threatened an understanding of technology as a social. construct and a belief in the possibility of a reconstituted new world This thesis argues that Mumford. culminates the line of thought represented by this hidden tradition. The thesis concludes that while Mumford is heir to a rich tradition of thought on the question of. technology his own work is not without originality His claim to originality lies in his ability as a. synthesiser to unite diverse and sometimes disparate strands of thought into a coherent and unified whole. While his ultimate project of the reconciliation and synthesis of the dichotomies of the Machine Age is. unsuccessful this does not negate his achievement as an acute diagnostician of the modern world It is. found that Mumford s primary conmibution to the study of technology resides in the achievement of. shifting the focus of consideration away from technology per se and toward a more extensive and. comprehensive examination of the social matrix within which technology develops and operates. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS, The Department of Communication at SFU is a remarkable world As my home for the last few years. it has afforded me the privilege of meeting and working with a variety of people too numerous to. mention here who have contributed to the making of this thesis In a very real sense this thesis whose. faults naturally lie solely with me is a communal product. I would like to thank my Committee Paul Heyer who is responsible for my introduction to. Mumford and who bears a good measure of responsibility for my entrance to the programme and whose. unflagging support and encouragement far surpasses my ability to thank him adequately Liora Salter. who has taught me much more than she knows and my Senior Supervisor Bill Leiss who although he. sets an impossible example has inspired many of us. Pam Parford Lucie Menkveld Paulette Johnston and earlier Karen Gardiner the staff of the. Communication Department have provided cheerful assistance and generally held the horrors of. bureaucracy at bay, My gratitude is also extended to the community of graduate students in the Department Although. academic work is often solitary and alienating being a part of this supportive community has kept me. human In particular I would like to thank Pat and Roger Howard Janice Peck Roman Onufrijchuk. Richard Pinet and Jane Walker Lynda Drury belongs in a sentence all her own and our friendship is. not the least of the gifts I have received through my association with the Department A group of my. ex students and current friends have also contributed heavily to the production of this thesis Firoozeh. Riahi Suzanne Strutt Catherine Witzell and Anne Francis have each in her own way inspired me. Finally I would like to thank those people outside the Department who have nevertheless been. very much with me in the production of this work Although it is conventional to discharge others of. for one s own work in a literal sense this thesis would not have been written without Chin. Banerjee who gave me the confidence and courage to embark on the project Its completion owes much. to Ruth Harding and I wish to say a very special thank you to her. TABLE OF CONTENTS,Approval ii,Acknowledgements,INTRODUCTION. BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH,BIBLIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 6, A Literary Criticism and American Cultural History 6.
B Architecture and Civilization, C The Social History of Technology Technology and Culture 15. D The Renewal of Life,E The History of the City 17. F Political Tracts Anthologies and Autobiographical Works 18. TECKNICS A N 3 MUMFORD 23,INTRODUCTION,TECHNICS AND CIVILIZATION. ART AND TECHNICS,THE MYTH OF THE MACHINE 46,Technics and Human Development. Pentagon of Power 50,SOURCES 65,INTRODUCTION, RALPH WALDO ERSON AND THE FATHERS OF AMERICAN LITERATURE 65.
JOHN RUSKIN 70,1 Art and Society,2 Political Economy. i Mammonism,ii The Defilement of Nature 75,iii Militarism 76. iv Science Technology and Industry 76,Ruskin and Mumford 78. HENRY ADAMS 80,THORSTEIN VEBLEN 85,PATRICK GEDDES 89. Works and Thought 93,Geddes and Mumford 97,Conclusion 101.
1 EVALUATION AND CONCLUSIONS 110,Evaluation i 113,Conclusion 118. BIBLIOGRAPHY 122,INTRODUCTION, One occasionally encounters a thinker who looms large on the margins of conventional thought a. figure who ranges over several disciplines and resides in none Such thinkers who refuse to acknowledge. disciplinary boundaries are often exiled from the realm of acceptable academic pursuits Lewis Mumford. is such an intellectual wanderer who has been banished to relative obscurity for the sin of excessive. scholarly peregrination A self proclaimed generalist Mumford has steadily refused to narrow his. focus to limit his enquiries to a particular field or to classify himself within one of the social science or. humanities disciplines a word which itself suggests inflexible limits and rigid control l. This thesis seeks to present and assess Lewis Mumford s works particularly his thought on the. social history of technology It is a premise of this thesis that since Mumford s corpus revolves around the. two fundamental issues of intersubjectivity and the relationship of people to things he may be considered. a communication theorist, Because Mumford stands so firmly outside the traditional departments of academic thought it is. tempting to see him sui neneris as a lonely and heroic figure without precursors and doomed to a. posthumous oblivion without heirs This thesis argues that Lewis Mumford culminates a line of what may. be termed a hidden tradition of communication thought which begins with Ralph Waldo Emerson and. continues with John Ruskin Henry Adams Thorstein Veblen and Mumford s Master Patrick Geddes. It is suggested f rther that Mumford remains a powerful voice who from the margins has much to. contribute to our understanding of technology, The remainder of this Chapter is devoted to two sketches of Mumford the first biographical and. the second bibliographical Chapter I1 contains the discussion of Mumford s major works in the area of. technology aqd culture This Chapter considers Technics and Civilization Art and Technics and. gvth of the F l a i n e in some detail These works are presented with reference to the three dominant. themes of The Critique of Industrial Society The Critique of False Dichotomies and The Renewal of. Life Chapter 111explores the hidden tradition of communication theorists in an attempt to contextualize. Mumfords thought and in order to better assess in the Concluding chapter Mumford s unique. contribution to the study of technology,BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.
Lewis Mumford was born on the Upper West Side of New York in 1895 the same year as the. invention by Edison of the motion picture projector and the year before Marconi premiered the radio. telegraph The Wright Brothers historic flight would not occur until 1903 and the New York of the turn. of the century was still characterized by pedestrian and horse powered locomotion Mumford was born. into a world on the brink of profound changes both social and technological With one foot planted in. the nineteenth century and the other firmly rooted in the twentieth Mumford has been in the dubiously. enviable position of witnessing indeed participating in the transformations taking place visibly around. The domestic situation of Mumford s early years was slightly unorthodox There was no father in. sight nor any mention ever made of him paternal parentage was a forbidden topic It was not until. Mumford was forty seven that he learned the circumstances of his birth Lewis was born out of. wedlock and his mother s marriage to John Mumford had long since been annulled probably on. grounds of non con ummation, His mother despite repeated pleas from Lewis father never remarried. The young Mumford was not however divest of male companionship He credits his lifelong. interest in the history of the city to the frequent rambling walks with his maternal grandfather through the. streets of New York These perambulations left a lasting impression on Mumford in each of his. autobiographical works he refers to them fondly and sometimes reverentially. At school age Murnford attended Stuyvesant High School an industrial scientific and technical. school at which he received the rudiments of a sound technical and scientific education and in particular. achieved familiarity with the basic tools and mechanical process in cabinet making smithing wood and. metal turning and foundry work 3 His first foray into publishing was with articles for popular technical. journals on improvements to the radio set he had built when he was twelve This early predilection for. writing is also see in his editorship of the high school newspaper. After high school Mumford enrolled as an evening extension student at City College New York. City College at this time was a free university requiring no tuition fees and the extension programme had. no formally designated programme for graduation Mumford took courses in several areas including. He eventually accumulated enough credits for a,English poetry politics psychology and philo ophy. B A but never applied to graduate One wonders to what extent this lack of formal academic. qualifications has contributed to the relative coolness of Mumford s reception by the Academy. After a short stint in the Navy April 1918 to February 1919 during which time he trained as a. radio telegraph operator Mumford returned to New York to work on The Dial The Dial had had an. illustri u, history being founded by Ralph Waldo Emerson and edited by Henry David Thoreau It. published during Mumford s tenure there first as a writer of book reviews and then as an Associate. Editor many of the luminaries of the day One such contributor was Thorstein Veblen and Mumford s. acquaintance with him dates from this time This literary apprenticeship at The Dial constituted. Mumford s last formal job aside from infrequent periodic stints as visiting professor at various. universities, New York during these very early inter wa years seems to have been a place of buoyant optimism. Along with the excitement of building a new world went an intense interest in discovering an American. heritage Works of American history literature and letters flourished alongside a quickening interest in. the events taking place in Russia Although this mood was not to last long Mumford enjoyed its spirit at. the time He was part of a group of exuberant young intellectuals intent on reconstruction and renewal. A group reminiscent of Emerson s famous Saturday Club met regularly to discuss the state of. contemporary civilization Membership in this group at one time or another included John Dos Passos. Harold Stearns J E Spingarn Katherine Anthony Van Wyck Brooks Elsie Clews Parsons Geroid. Robinson Paul Rosenfeld Walter Pach Ernest Boyd Clarence Britten and of course Mumford him elf. Mumford s first book The Stow of Uto ias 1922 seems to reflect this climate in microcosm as. will be seen belo This book which marked the end of Mumford s literary apprenticeship was made. ossibleprimarily through the financial support of Sophia Wittenberg who had married Mumford in. september 1921 Although our knowledge of her is indirect through Mumford s own writing Sophy. seems a remarkable woman whose early socialist and feminist sympathies had their influence on. Mumford s thought and work, From 1922 onwards Mumford devoted himself to his writing pausing briefly for several trips to.
Britain and Europe and in 1942 for a teaching position at Stanford in the Humanities Department The. battlefield death of Mumford s only son Geddes at the age of nineteen left Mumford with a profound. personal grief and may also have contributed to his gradually intensifying concern with the subject of war. 1946 found Mumford engaged in a one man campaign against the nuclear arms race an issue with which. he was passionately identified, While this quote may contain elements of hyperbole it is true that both in his writings and deeds. Mumford came to be very closely identified with a number of political issues The first of these positions. was Mumford s urgent call during the early years of the Second World War for American intervention to. help stem the tide of Nazism and Fascism This earned Mumford much unpopularity and criticism. friendships were strained and lost and be was attacked at a war monger even as a Fascist Mumford s. battle against nuclear weapons from the mid nineteen forties to the present constitutes the second of these. political positions Finally Mumford took an early and leading position against American involvement in. the Vietnam war This again earned him great unpopularity with the establishment It seems likely that. Mumford s intellectual marginality has been reinforced by his vociferous and oppositional political. involvement, Mumford currently lives and works in Amenia New York his home for over fifty years. These brief and bare outlines of Mumford s life reveal little about the man and his thought It is. necessary to look at Mumford s publishing history to put some flesh on the skeleton of this intellectual. BIBLIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH, A comprehensive overview of Mumford s books articles newspaper columns addresses and. reviews is beyond the scope of this thesis Elmer S Newman s bibliography which is exhaustive is. available to those with a more detailed interest in Mumford s oeuvre The following catalogue and. description is not therefore complete but does include all of Mumford s book length publications. The span of Mumford s book publishing career to date is exactly sixty years beginning in 1922. with The Stow of Uto iasand ending with the autobiographical Sketches From Life in 1982 While there. is a fair amount of repetition in these works the scope and depth of Mumford s thought is remarkable. The corpus of Mumford s works taken together form an organic whole which in fact says more than the. sum of its parts This is true in at least two ways first readers with their own knowledge and life. experiences are able through their engagement with the books to make fresh connections with and. develop deeper insights into both the corpus itself and the immediate world second the works seen as a. whole and spanning a period of over half a century are a testimony of our times. The catalogue and review which follows is organized into six major themes or subjects This. division is for convenience only and there are some works which would readily fit under more than one. heading While the discussion follows a rough chronological order this is occasionally interrupted in the. interests of brevity or clarity,A Literarv Criticism American Cultural Historv. Mumford opens his literary career with a series of works devoted to literary criticism combined. with American cultural history These books in many ways set the stage for Mumford s later. investigations both thematically and methodologically.

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