- Paperback: 248 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press (October 14, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195173686
- ISBN-13: 978-0195173680
- Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 0.5 x 5.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #936,256 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Nature of Design: Ecology, Culture, and Human Intention
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"David Orr backs his talk with tactics and deeds that include his own actions. He convinced Oberlin College to construct a science building that 'did not impair human or ecological health somewhere else or at some later time.' That was a big order and not easily done, but he attracted and
organized the multi-talented team that did it.... The chapter labeled 'Education, Careers, and Callings' is particularly fine, and presents...solid suggestions for doable changes in education that will be considered radical by many ecologically illiterate educators, but are certainly the way to go.
Good stuff, easily read." --J. Baldwin, Whole Earth, Fall 2002
"The creativity of thought displayed is refreshing when compared to the hundreds of texts that criticise current practice without offering substitutes. And Orr's understanding of the role pysical surroundings play in human thinking inspires a vital alternative to the technological
fundamentalism constricting so much current thought."--Ecologist
About the Author
David W. Orr is Professor and Chair of the Environmental Studies Program at Oberlin College. He is the author of Ecological Literacy and Earth in Mind, as well as more than 100 published articles. Among other awards, he has received a Lyndhurst Prize Fellowship and the National Wildlife Federation's National Achievement Award.
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Top Customer Reviews
The professor makes this journey even more enjoyable through his deliciously witty sarcasms and digs at the capitalistic society of today and its spin-doctors of advertising. Through numerous examples and penetrating questions, the writer clearly supports his point of view that humanity today is rushing headlong into the future, with a blind reliance on science and technology/forms of government/economic theories... and this faith he claims, seems to mirror an almost religious fervor. The writer clearly illustrates how humanity is increasingly trading its unknown future for short term gains of a few in positions of power to exploit those gains.
The book deals with the subject of designing the future with Nature in mind, and speaks of the nature of design. Quite a heavy book in terms of the ideas, though the writing is wonderfully simple and straightforward. But aren't the clearest minds with the most elegant and terse prose, the hardest to comprehend? Simply a brilliant book that is a must read, and replete with a wonderfully diverse reference list at the end.
He explains and argues for a continually expanded vision of 'education' again, and embeds this process in the larger processes of life; tirelessy showing that there are no boundaries between the two - and what this means for our place in the living world.
Chapters such as "Architecture as Pedagogy" represent some of his past work refined.
It is in the first half dozen chapters, however, that I feel he gets closest to the heart of the matter. In chapters such as "Slow Knowledge" and "Verbicide" he brings forth such elements as time, information, the speed at which we unite (or disjoint) them, and our relationship between such daily elements. I have been on a constant search for commentary on the implications of our relationship with time as it concerns sustainability. (Some of the best writing on it, that I've found is in The Sabbath by A.J Heschel and Spell of the Sensuous by David Abram). There is little written directly about this in the general literature, much of it not embedded in the concept of sustainability. The majority of it is also somewhat hidden in studies of religion, symbolism, and philosophy. Orr brings these relationships into the open and connects our perception and the design of our use of time directly to the ground. He never loses sight of the how such processes impact our prospects for a livable future.
He also contextualizes this relationship in the ever widening definition (largely thanks to Orr himself) of DESIGN - specifically ecological design.
These aspects are only part of this commentary however; other areas focus on the idea of wilderness, political economy, vocation, technology and human development.
David Orr's ability to connect such topics and contextualize them within the qualities of 'usefulness' is needed fundamentally.
He uncompromisingly subjects dominant current (and lesser-discussed, but possible) beliefs, paradigms, technologies and techniques, to the questions:
"What good is it, are they? How does it/do they influence us? How does it/do they inform our actions? Does this further our best intentions? How does this influence the prospects of life now and in the future?"
Never before has such scrutiny been so necessary, and I have found no more enlightening and pragmatic commentary than that offered by David Orr. This book should raise the bar for others in the many fields of sustainability to broaden, deepen and connect these concepts further, and soon.