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This book presents an annotated edition of the story of a simple, optimistic man whose travels take him from one disaster to another; and includes backgrounds, a selection of critical essays, and a summary of the debate surrounding Voltaire's works. [This text is listed as an example that meets Common Core Standards in English language arts in grades 9-10 at http://www.corestandards.org.]
Most people, including philosophers, tend to classify human motives as falling into one of two categories: the egoistic or the altruistic, the self-interested or the moral. According to Susan Wolf, however, much of what motivates us does not comfortably fit into this scheme. Often we act neither for our own sake nor out of duty or an impersonal concern for the world. Rather, we act out of love for objects that we rightly perceive as worthy of love--and it is these actions that give meaning to our lives. Wolf makes a compelling case that, along with happiness and morality, this kind of meaningfulness constitutes a distinctive dimension of a good life. Written in a lively and engaging style, and full of provocative examples, Meaning in Life and Why It Matters is a profound and original reflection on a subject of permanent human concern.
Technology, perhaps the most salient feature of our time, affects everything from jobs to international law yet ranks among the most unpredictable facets of human life. Here Robert McC. Adams, renowned anthropologist and Secretary Emeritus of the Smithsonian Institution, builds a new approach to understanding the circumstances that drive technological change, stressing its episodic, irregular nature. The result is nothing less than a sweeping history of technological transformation from ancient times until now. Rare in antiquity, the bursts of innovations that mark the advance of technology have gradually accelerated and now have become an almost continuous feature of our culture. Repeatedly shifting in direction, this path has been shaped by a host of interacting social, cultural, and scientific forces rather than any deterministic logic. Thus future technological developments, Adams maintains, are predictable only over the very short term.Adams's account highlights Britain and the United States from early modern times onward. Locating the roots of the Industrial Revolution in British economic and social institutions, he goes on to consider the new forms of enterprise in which it was embodied and its loss of momentum in the later nineteenth century. He then turns to the early United States, whose path toward industrialization initially involved considerable "technology transfer" from Britain. Propelled by the advent of mass production, world industrial leadership passed to the United States around the end of the nineteenth century. Government-supported research and development, guided partly by military interests, helped secure this leadership.Today, as Adams shows, we find ourselves in a profoundly changed era. The United States has led the way to a strikingly new multinational pattern of opportunity and risk, where technological primacy can no longer be credited to any single nation. This recent trend places even more responsibility on the state to establish policies that will keep markets open for its companies and make its industries more competitive. Adams concludes with an argument for active government support of science and technology research that should be read by anyone interested in America's ability to compete globally.
Inspiring, provocative, prophetic, and enigmatic, Utopia is the literary masterpiece of a visionary statesman and one of the most influential books of the modern world. Based on Thomas More's penetrating analysis of the folly and tragedy of the politics of his time and all times, Utopia (1516) is a seedbed of alternative political institutions and a perennially challenging exploration of the possibilities and limitations of political action. This Norton Critical Edition is built on the translation that Robert M. Adams created for it in 1975. For the Third Edition, George M. Logan has carefully revised the translation, improving its accuracy while preserving the grace and verve that have made it the most highly regarded modern rendering of More's Renaissance Latin work. "Backgrounds" includes a wide-ranging selection of the major secular and religious texts--from Plato to Amerigo Vespucci--that informed More's thinking, as well as a selection of the responses to his book by members of his own humanist circle and an account by G. R. Elton of the condition of England at the time More wrote. "Criticism" now offers a more comprehensive survey of modern scholarship, adding excerpts from seminal books by Frederic Seebohm, Karl Kautsky, and Russell Ames, as well as selections from stimulating and influential recent readings by Dominic Baker-Smith and Eric Nelson. In the final section, on "Utopia's Modern Progeny," the opening chapter of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World is now complemented by excerpts from another great work in the complex tradition of utopian and dystopian fiction, Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness. Throughout the Third Edition, the editorial apparatus has been thoroughly revised and updated. An updated Selected Bibliography is also included.