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HUMANITIES 487 Of the education harvest since 1976, then, his book in my judgment deserves the widest readership. (WILLARD G. OXTOBY) Lawrence Haworth. Decadence and Objectivity University of Toronto Press. xi, 169. $12.50 The great advances in technology over the past two centuries have made for ever greater productivity. Haworth seeks to bring enlightenment to the growing concern today that such productivity is bought at too high a cost. Environmentalists are appalled at pollution and the squandering of resources, conservationists at technology upsetting the ecological equilibrium of natural environments. Haworth thinks both responses short-sighted, the conservationist forgetting that man is part of the ecological system, the environmentalist uncritically assuming that the rest of nature exists only for man - if not for his use, for his appreciation of it in its unsullied state. Another by-product of advanced technology has been the dissolution of traditional communities. Some welcome it for liberating the individual from the group, exposing him to the variety which induces him to develop in sensitivity and intellect. Haworth is sympathetic to those who see in it a great loss. With changing jobs there is no place in which a man has roots, no place he can call home. There are no settled neighbourhoods . Each has few continuous acquaintances. Each is surrounded by man-made objects; natural things are seen only for human use. The public domain is but a place for working and shopping, the fruits of which each squirrels away for himself, turning inward, absorbed in his private concerns. In traditional settled communities each lived among others with whom he had common concerns and a common past, gaining meaning for his life from the way of life in which he shared. While sympathetic to these v~lues, Haworth thinks it an idle dream to wish to recover them by a return to villages or communes. Technology gives emancipation from toil. Yet heĀ·urges that continually increasing productivity to provide ?till more consumer satisfactions is now no longer possible. The earth's resources cannot sustain it. Even if they could, the greater means for satisfaction have only intensified the dissatisfaction of most men in not sharing in the abundance of the most affluent, while increasing the dissatisfaction of the affluent with the emptiness of their lives. Assuming zero population growth, Haworth envisages only two over-all options for the future, the leisure-oriented model and the workoriented model. Both would retain advanced technology but reduce consumption levels. The first would make for leisure by drastically reducing the hours of work for all while retaining the dehumanizing 488 LETTERS IN CANADA 1977 efficiency of technology. While each would still put in a portion of his time in work intrinsically distasteful, through working far fewer hours each would become far less dependent upon others. Under the other model, work would be made intrinsically satisfying to each, albeit less efficient. Such a model, Haworth urges, would enable each to recover in the social milieu of his vocation the lost values of the settled community of the past. As he proceeds, Haworth increasingly employs pejorative epithets in depicting the leisure-oriented model, while eulogizing the workoriented . In the leisure-oriented life the individual exploits both the public domain and the natural environment for his own satisfaction. The self-absorption of each with his private concerns makes this life-style one of decadence. Three eulogistic epithets Haworth particularly employs in depicting the work-oriented model - 'responsibility: 'professionalism : and 'objectivity' - endowing each with meanings of his own. Under the work-oriented model. each fulfils himself through transcending himself; his work gives significance to his life; his work is his way of life; it is to his work that he is 'responsible.' In the commitment of everyone to his work in a 'professional' spirit, it is the canons of his profession which provide 'objective' measures of fulfilment. He is not exploiting the resources of nature; instead they provide 'objectives' for him to help to bring to fruition; through them he 'objectivizes' himself. If Haworth were but reaffirming Mill's view that anyone's life is far more satisfying if largely engaged in activity he feels important, few would disagree. Paradoxically, he regards Mill...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 487-488
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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