Philosophy

The Education of Henry Adams

Perhaps the most unabashed case for rejecting Adams’ “inhuman” theories, however, comes from someone who actually takes them seriously. In his 1919 review of The Education, Robert Shafer criticizes what he understands to be the human costs of Adams’ “suicidal doctrines”:

“Everything recognizable as distinctly human is swept away, swallowed up in the anarchy of mechanical energies into whose presence the modern scientist proudly ushers us . . . a waste place inhuman and desolate beyond words to cry our woe. . . . Let us by all means admit that the universe is real . . . but let us not therefore deny our own humanity, distorting ourselves into mere helpless mechanisms. . . .

Every man is aware of a different world within himself which is his sole possession, by virtue of which he is an individual. . . . And only the man who is conscious that there is a portion of his being which thus differs from, and even opposes itself to, his mortal constitution and its surrounding world of nature and society — only that man has become in the full sense of the word human.”

Taylor, Matthew A. Universes without Us: Posthuman Cosmologies in American Literature. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013. 68. Print.

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