Paperback / softback
May 30, 2003
9781558493902
English
344
1.18 Pounds (US)
$25.95 USD
v2.1 Reference

Prometheus Revisited

The Quest for Global Justice in the Twenty-first Century

Understood as a metaphor for the human mastery of nature, the myth of Prometheus has long served as a symbol of the modern world. Industrialization, individualism, the triumph of instrumental rationality and technological prowess in every aspect of life, all can be seen as expressions of the Promethean ethic. Yet as Arthur Mitzman demonstrates in this thought-provoking book, there is an alternative conception of Promethean modernity at odds with the reigning view. Elaborated in the writings of some European romantics, particularly the English poet Shelley, it emphasizes creativity over productivity, and a harmonious union with nature rather than its technocratic conquest.

According to Mitzman, the ideologies of nationalism, socialism, and consumer capitalism all purported to be agencies of liberation and social justice. But they were traps. The mentalities of growth and power they encouraged and their institutional embodiments suffocated the original impulses of Promethean creativity while combining to construct the "double wall" of ecological unsustainability and increasing social inequality that threatens the very existence of humankind.

Although the forces of globalization and neoliberalism dominate contemporary society and may seem irreversible, Mitzman believes in the possibility of a different kind of world. Integrating the insights of critical theory, intellectual history, and psychoanalysis, he offers a reasoned plea for a radical new vision of the future, one grounded in a politics of genuinely self-governing communities, a culture of liberated creativity, and an economics committed to the transcendence of scarcity and insecurity.

About the Author

Arthur Mitzman is emeritus professor of modern history at the University of Amsterdam. His previous books include The Iron Cage: An Historical Interpretation of Max Weber and Michelet, Historian: Rebirth and Romanticism in Nineteenth-Century France.

Review

"Mitzman's timely, forcefully argued book engages many of the most pressing issues of our time. In contrast to other studies that only deepen our despair without offering solutions to contemporary crises, Prometheus Revisited will inspire readers to think about current dilemmas in entirely new ways."—David Gross, author of Lost Time: On Remembering

and Forgetting in Late Modern Culture
University of Massachusetts Press
Critical Perspectives on Modern Culture

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