[Humanist] 31.264 as if doomsday
Humanist Discussion Group
willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Tue Aug 29 07:48:12 CEST 2017
Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 31, No. 264.
Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
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Date: Tue, 29 Aug 2017 06:37:06 +0100
From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
Subject: determinism and the shallows
Without having read Nicholas Carr's The Shallows: What the Internet Is
Doing to Our Brains, reported by Amazon as finalist for the 2011
Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction and praised as "a Silent Spring for
the literary mind" (Michael Agger, Slate), no critical judgment is
possible. But the ease with which this book thus known slides into the
category of tiresome doomsday pronouncements raises suspicions if
not hackles. I'm nevertheless stirred to comment by the evident
determinism in the subtitle. I am tempted to say that anyone whose
brain is that passive deserves whatever damage the internet inflicts on
him or her. Perhaps, now, survival of evolutionary struggle will depend on
doing more than twittering and facebooking oneself into mindlessness?
See Charlie Brooker's "Nosedive", Black Mirror, Season 3
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nosedive) for a taste of that possible future.
Technological determinism is a serious philosophical problem. But to
focus on just one half of the co-evolutionary cycle of us and our
inventions is to help realise the story that Carr's book's title implies.
Or so it seems to me.
My thanks to Marinella Testori for alerting me to the book.
Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor emeritus, Department of
Digital Humanities, King's College London; Adjunct Professor, Western
Sydney University and North Carolina State University; Editor,
Interdisciplinary Science Reviews (www.tandfonline.com/loi/yisr20)
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