Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Threat to Individuality

A short, thought-provoking piece by Sven Birkets on the Britannica Blog:

"Certainly within the scientific disciplines, and the other fact-driven disciplines, the prospect of collaborative intelligence seems likely. But in our zeal to take the part for the whole, we risk making a larger and entirely unwarranted assumption—that the other, the value-laden disciplines are likewise there to be collectively colonized. This misunderstands the essential nature of value-based intelligence, which is that it is subjective, informed by individual experience, and that its noblest end has always been individuation rather than the submergence of the self into a group-mind of any kind."

Birkets has published several books of literary essays, including An Artificial Wilderness: Essays on 20th-Century Literature and The Electric Life: Essays on Modern Poetry. His widely acclaimed Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age was a New York Times Notable Book. Other works include My Sky Blue Trades, and Reading Life: Books for the Ages.