Ivar Ekeland extends his consideration of the catastrophe theory of the universe begun in his widely acclaimed Mathematics and the Unexpected, by drawing on rich literary sources, particularly the Norse saga of Saint Olaf, and such current topics as chaos theory, information theory, and particle physics.
"Ivar Ekeland gained a large and enthusiastic following with Mathematics and the Unexpected, a brilliant and charming exposition of fundamental new discoveries in the theory of dynamical systems. The Broken Dice continues the same theme, and in the same elegant, seemingly effortless style, but focuses more closely on the implications of those discoveries for the rest of human culture. What are chance and probability? How has our thinking about them been changed by the discovery of chaos? What are all of these concepts good for? . . . Ah, but, I mustn't give the game away, any more than I should if I were reviewing a detective novel. And this is just as gripping a tale. . . . Beg, borrow, or preferably buy a copy. . . . I guarantee you won't be disappointed."—Ian Stewart, Science
Raymonde Carroll presents an intriguing and thoughtful analysis of the many ways French and Americans—and indeed any members of different cultures—can misinterpret each other, even when ostensibly speaking the same language. Cultural misunderstandings, Carroll points out, can arise even where we least expect them—in our closest relationships. The revealing vignettes that Carroll relates, and her perceptive comments, bring to light some fundamental differences in French and American presuppositions about love, friendship, and raising children, as well as such everyday activities as using the telephone or asking for information.
When Nathan Wachtel, the distinguished historical anthropologist, returned to the village of Chipaya, the site of his extensive fieldwork in the Bolivian Andes, he learned a group of Uru Indians was being incarcerated and tortured for no apparent reason. Even more strangely, no one—not even his closest informant and friend—would speak about it.
Wachtel discovered that a series of recent deaths and misfortunes in Chipaya had been attributed to the evil powers of the Urus, a group usually regarded with suspicion by the other ethnic groups. Those incarcerated were believed to be the chief sorcerers and vampires whose paganistic practices had brought death to Chipaya by upsetting the social order. Wachtel's investigation, told in Gods and Vampires: Back to Chipaya, reveals much about relations between the Urus and the region's dominant ethnic groups and confronts some of the most trenchant issues in contemporary anthropology. His analysis shows that the Urus had become victims of the same set of ideals the Spanish had used, centuries before, to establish their hegemony in the region.
Presented as a personal detective story, Gods and Vampires is Wachtel's latest work in a series studying the ongoing impact of the Spanish conquest on the Andean consciousness and social system. Its insight into Bolivian society and the legacy of hegemony confronts some of the most trenchant issues in contemporary anthropologyand will be of great interest to scholars of anthropology, Latin American studies, and Native American studies.
The New Ecological Order
Luc Ferry University of Chicago Press, 1995 Library of Congress GF21.F4813 1995 | Dewey Decimal 304.2
Is ecology in the process of becoming the object of our contemporary passions, in the same way that Fascism was in the 30s, or Communism under Stalin? In The New Ecological Order, Luc Ferry offers a penetrating critique of the ideological roots of the "Deep Ecology" movement spreading throughout Germany, France, and the United States.
Traditional ecological movements, or "democratic ecology," seek to protect the environment of human societies; they are pragmatic and reformist. But another movement has become the refuge both of nostalgic counterrevolutionaries and of leftist illusions. This is "deep ecology." Its followers go beyond practical critiques of human greed and waste: they call into question the very possibility of human coexistence with nature. The human species is no longer at the center of the world, but subject to a new god called Nature. For these purists, man can only soil the harmony of the universe. In order to secure natural equilibrium, the only solution is to grant rights to animals, to trees, and to rocks.
Ferry launches his critique by examining early European legal cases concerning the status and rights of animals, including a few notorious cases where animals were brought to trial, found guilty, and publicly hanged. He then demonstrates that German Romanticism embraced certain key ideas of the deep ecology movement concerning the protection of animals and the environment. Later adopted by the Nazis, many of these ideas point to a profoundly antihumanistic component of deep ecology that is compatible with totalitarianism.
Ferry shows how deep ecology casts aside all the gains of human autonomy since the Enlightenment. He deciphers the philosophical and political assumptions of a movement that threatens to infantalize human society by preying on the fear of the authority of a new theological-political order. Far from denying our "duty in relation to nature," The New Ecological Order offers a bracing caution—against the dangers of environmental claims and, more important, against the threat to democracy contained in the deep ecology doctrine when pushed to its extreme.
"A book of intellectual power, full of insights, invention, and not without temerity, from one of the best political philosophers today."—Le Figaro
"Few books have analyzed in depth this phenomenon of the ecological movement as the most recent book by Luc Ferry has done. . . . It is a book that absolutely must be read."—Le Point