The Patterning Instinct: A Cultural History of Humanity’s Search for Meaning
A wondrous exhibition of erudition, of history, and of serious analysis turns to political exposition and tedium.
I was fascinated with Mr. Lent’s tracing of world views, of philosophical evolutions. His discussion of evolutions in thinking–from Sumer through Mesopotamia and Egypt, even in almost prehistoric India, then more intimately in Greece and Europe–were entrancing. If you have not degrees in philosophy and the history of civilizations, then read this.
Non-western worldviews tend to be ascribed more . . . benevolence than those evolving in the western world. Authorial reasoning there becomes obvious later in the read. In fairness, the man-vs-nature slant of western views is herein given just condemnation. However, eastern ones, even equally environmentally destructive ones, get a wash.
Here’s fine research and writing!
However, when the author leaves historical development and begins to quote fear-mongering by Al Gore, Ehrlich, and, so help me, Jeremy Rifkin, while arguing for U.N. control of world resources, research and consideration stop and become one-sided exposition. Malthus is exhumed with honors, and the Club of Rome resurrected because they were not “scientifically disproved” (though they confessed publicly to total exaggeration). This segment, totally embracing capitalists-as-demons cant, makes the analogy of a watermelon unavoidable . . . green on the outside and red in the middle!
In presentation, this is a thick tome of tiny print, with the eighty-six pages of notes in a font that literally required me to employ a magnifying glass if not in direct sunlight. Notes of significance receive an asterisk in the text, so constant referral to those notes is a reader’s necessity.
Trying to do everything from summing up societal analyses to exploring the singularity and prospects of transhumanism–all in LONG sentences–makes the later part of this book an exercise in reader endurance.
Jeremy R. Lent • Fritjof Capra, Foreword