The Promethean Illusion

The Western Belief in Human Mastery of Nature

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About the Book

This book explores two contradictory realities: our continuing belief that nature is subject to our willful control and nature’s refusal to abide by this belief. It investigates particular aspects of modern science and spotlights the impact Newtonian science had upon the Western world. It then critically assesses twentieth century developments in science, presenting a number of biological and ecological case studies that document the various limitations that the natural world places upon human knowledge. The analysis argues against programmatic proposals to control nature via genetic engineering and planet management.

About the Author(s)

Bob Tostevin, who received his doctorate in political theory at York University in Toronto, teaches history at the Pembroke Hill School in Kansas City, Missouri.

Bibliographic Details

Bob Tostevin

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 272
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2010
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6063-2
eISBN: 978-0-7864-6228-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii
Preface      1
Introduction      5

1. Mastery in the Making      13
2. Authorizing Human Dominion      33
3. Ironies of Scientific Progress      58
4. Science in the Land of Sometimes and Perhaps      89
5. Elusive Elements of Organic Change      116
6. Ecological Detective Stories      149
7. Planetary Thinking      174

Conclusion: Rethinking Our Being with Nature      207
Notes      227
Bibliography      247
Index      257