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Although still attracting students and economically sound, the center was not accomplishing its original purpose. Therefore, in it was closed. The next several years Illich traveled and studied oriental languages and culture with the dream of writing the history of Western ideas in an oriental language. Subsequently, believing the task to be too great, he returned to an old intellectual home, to the study of 12th-century philosophy.

ABC: The Alphabetization of the Popular Mind

Here, while teaching at the University of Marburg in Germany, he sought to find a fulcrum for lifting contemporary people out of their socially-constructed, conventional perspectives and out of a worsening world situation. He sought to enable them to understand how their commonly viewed reality what is taken for granted or as certain was historically constructed and can be changed.

In the early s Illich taught part of the year at Pennsylvania State University and continued to reside in Cuernavaca, Mexico. Illich became known as a brilliant satirist and critic of contemporary institutions. In the early s he called for a reexamination of existing social institutions.

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For example, he argued that schools are a lottery in which everyone invests but few win. As a result of perceived failure, those students who don't succeed in schools are stigmatized and suffer discrimination. In contrast, he proposed to correct this unjust situation by de-schooling society and thereby making it impossible to discriminate on that basis. Later, his thought penetrated to new depths when examining the professions, particularly the medical profession and how it leads individuals to become dependent and to assume less responsibility for their own lives.

In the s Illich's thought shifted and again reached new levels of analysis.

He stated that changes in our current situation can be attained if individuals "awaken" to the fact that each person's understanding or perspective of his or her world, a world that each of us takes for granted and as certain, is seen as being formulated and handed down over the centuries. Such conventional perspectives lock individuals into certain solutions and prevent recognition of new ways of living in the world.

For example, in his work ABC: The Alphabetization of the Popular Mind he shows how our way of thinking has made three shifts throughout time.

ABC: The Alphabetization of the Popular Mind - Ivan Illich, Barry Sanders - Google книги

The first shift that changed our ways of seeing resulted from the introduction of the alphabet. A second shift in our thinking came in the 12th century with the development of the written page as we moved from an oral public and a spoken reality to a written reality and a literacy paradigm.

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And finally, the computer and word processing have created a new watershed of change in which our thoughts were increasingly arranged more by the logic and efficiency of a technical tool than by the natural meanings embodied in a live discourse and spoken tradition. Transcripts and this highly informative dialogue can be ordered from Ideas, P. A major political article by Francis Duplex is Gray, including biographical information, "Profiles," appeared in the New Yorker By continuing, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Tools is the most general statement of Illich's principles; the other three expand on examples sketched in Today in order to critique what he calls "radical monopolies" in the technologies of education, energy consumption, and medical treatment.

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This critique applies equally to both the so-called developed and the developing nations but in different ways. Two subsequent collections of occasional piecesToward a History of Needs and Shadow Work stress the distorting influence on society and culture of the economics of scarcity, or the presumption that economies function to remedy scarcities rather than to share goods. Toward a History of Needs also initiates a project in the history or archaeology of ideas that takes its first full-bodied shape in Gender , an attempt to recover social experiences of female-male complementarity that have been obscured by the modern economic regime.

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H2O and the Waters of Forgetfulness extends this project into a history of "stuff. In the Mirror of the Past is a collection of occasional essays and talks from the s, linking his concerns with economics, education, history, and the new ideological meaning of life. The first was the result of my preliminary explorations into the subject, which made me realize for the first time in my life just how deeply I am a reader - someone who depends on the sense of stablility and permanence that writing imparts to my words and ideas.

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It wasn't that I didn't know how much time I spend reading and writing, but that I had never really considered that there might be an alternative. Illiteracy, in modern societies, is generally treated as a state of deprivation, rather than as a different form of consciousness.

Thinking of oral society, and of the possible emergence of a post-literate society, I grew more aware of some of the unique, curious and possibly transient features of the island of letters on which I have lived my life. The second momentous happening was re-encountering Ivan Illich, someone I hadn't seen since I had helped to organized a lecture by him in Toronto in , though I had continued to be an avid reader of his books.


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Meeting him again led me into a relationship that continues to preoccupy me to this day. I am currently at work on an intellectual biography of Illich. So, as well as producing what I think is still an interesting radio series, those three days at Emmanuel College in the summer of also changed my life.