Art and Technics by Lewis Mumford

By Lewis Mumford

Featuring a brand new advent by means of Casey Nelson Blake, this vintage textual content offers the essence of Mumford's perspectives at the distinctive but interpenetrating roles of know-how and the humanities in sleek tradition. Mumford contends that glossy man's overemphasis on technics has contributed to the depersonalization and vacancy of a lot of twentieth-century lifestyles. He concerns a decision for a renewed admire for inventive impulses and achievements. His repeated insistence that technological improvement take the Human as its measure―as good as his impassioned plea for humanity to utilize its "splendid prospects and promise" and opposite its growth towards anomie and destruction―is ever extra proper because the new century dawns.

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22 Art and the Symbol an expression of that part of the personality from which emotion and feeling and desire and sympathy— the stuff of both life and art—have been eliminated. Strangely, it is only in our own day that the work of George Mead, Ernst Cassirer, W. M. Urban, and Suzanne Langer in philosophy has drawn attention to the constant part played by man’s propensity to symbolize his experi­ ence; and in particular to the dynamic role of the esthetic symbol, in revealing man’s nature and further modifying it.

Man’s dreams and wishes, his emotions and feelings are, as I shall continue to insist, an essential part of his life, but they are certainly only a part; and it was important for man’s further development and maturity that he should 42 The Tool and the Object recognize that there are certain conditions of nature that can be mastered only if he approaches them with hu­ mility, indeed with self-effacement. This respect for processes and functions did not come easily to man; indeed, his very invention of signs and symbols, though it widened the sphere of human coop­ eration, made him impatient of activities of a nonhuman kind whose nature he could not effect by purely symbolic means.

Order of any kind gives man a sense of security: it is the changeful, the unexpected, the capricious, in other words the unpredictable and uncontrollable, that fill him with anxiety and dread. Hence whenever man becomes unsure of himself, or whenever his creative powers seem inadequate, whenever his symbolisms breed confusion and conflict, his tendency is either to find a refuge in blind Fate, or to concentrate upon those processes in which his own subjective interests are not directly in­ volved.

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