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Conscientious Thinking: Making Sense in an Age of Idiot Savants (Georgia Review Books Ser.) Hardcover – February 1, 2017
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David Bosworth’s Conscientious Thinking is the most exhilarating cultural critique I have read in a very long time. Bosworth develops his idea of the Idiot Savant into a delightfully frightening analysis of how and why our leaders in all fields are smart but seldom wise. Bosworth is one of those rare, erudite thinkers who writes beautiful, shimmering prose. His project is nothing less than to show us the limits of scientific thinking and to suggest how we might re-ethicize science and revitalize it with artistic insights and humanistic concerns. (Kent Meyers author of Twisted Tree)
David Bosworth is a first-rate cultural critic who brings to vivid life the full range of issues confronting us at the present moment. To read him on what has lately happened in American society is to become suddenly alert to the interpenetration of political, economic, and cultural forces and to the fact that the most important questions we face are not primarily political in nature, however they may seem in a media-saturated age. Though Bosworth operates comfortably within the discourse of the academic left, he is by no means the prisoner of an ideological constituency. In fact he writes with extraordinary grace and lucidity and calls to mind the work of earlier practitioners like Christopher Lasch, Jacques Ellul, and David Riesman, each of them notable for their cogency and for combining a devotion to understanding the past with a passion for confronting the present. (Robert Boyers Editor, Salmagundi)
Conscientious Thinking extends and deepens the important criticism undertaken in The Demise of Virtue in Virtual America. Together these books firmly establish David Bosworth as one of our most insightful social critics. The analysis provided here is both timely and necessary. Not only does it appear on the heels of the manifest failures wrought by a highly rationalized economic orthodoxy; it also walks straight into the farce of our current political dysfunction. And the speech it delivers is crucial to the action playing out before us. Bosworth’s critique of specialization and the dangers of its obfuscating language is as good as any I have encountered. In prose at once elegant and precise―and oftentimes amusing―he tells us that we are paying a very high price for our willingness to be wowed by clever fools. It is our good luck that Bosworth doesn’t suffer them gladly. This book is a real contribution; it is a helpful advisor and a kindly guide in confused times. (Jason Peters editor of Wendell Berry: Life and Work)
Refusing to divorce questions of ethics from those of economics and aesthetics, Bosworth models a fearless and passionate transcendentalism for the twenty-first century. Conscientious Thinking is an intellectual tonic, keen and bracing, that yokes the arts and sciences as few books have done. (Anne Goldman author of Continental Divides: Revisioning American Literature)
David Bosworth has a scary-smart way of writing pithy-but-gracious paragraphs covering entire arrays of knowledge and facts. His piece on Henry Ford, for example, stuns in part because it catches the deep-seated reasons why so many Americans thought of Ford as a sort of lesser god―reasons that still annoy educated readers who cannot even begin to figure out Fordism, or Ford himself. (John R. Stilgoe author of What Is Landscape?)
Bosworth's panoramic sweep―from Henry Ford to Andy Warhol to Richard Dawkins―argues for how much intellectual history the essay can contain. Driven by a passionate mind, this work digs through the ruins of what he terms our 'Idiot Savant' cultural moment seeking a path toward 'reintegration of the self with society and nature,' a cry in the wilderness for wisdom. (Alison Hawthorne Deming author of Zoologies: On Animals and the Human Spirit)
David Bosworth is not only one of the sharpest, most perceptive cultural critics around, he has even come up with a way we might think our way out of the mess we are in. His argument is powerful and worth pondering. No one who cares about the condition of our culture can afford to ignore Conscientious Thinking. (Jackson Lears editor, Raritan)
Forthright commentary on the flagrant failure of our nation’s meritocracy to manage our affairs effectively
Top customer reviews
Through 3 emblematic personalities, David Bosworth tells us that being brilliant is not necessarily grounded in wisdom; provokes us and invites us to return to a more ethical, aesthetic and humanistic way, which is very necessary and urgent in our times; explains the reasons for our modern and postmodern thinking that have resulted in the existential vacuum and American social dissatisfaction in all spheres of human doing. In addition he proposes, in his way of seeing, a scheme of how we could solve ourselves, through a cultural progress that proceeds through transcendental integration (arts, science, economics, ethics and humanism) and not extermination.
These kinds of criticisms are very necessary at a time when we need to move into new paradigms; Which help us break with outdated thinking systems that hinder progress towards more holistic approaches.
My gratitude to the Publisher and NetGalley for allowing me to review the book.