"_The Moment of Complexity_ is a profoundly original work. In remarkable and insightful ways, Mark Taylor traces an entirely new way to view the evolution of our culture, detailing how information theory and the scientific concept of complexity can be used to understand recent developments in the arts and humanities. This book will ultimately be seen as a classic."-John L. Casti, Santa Fe Institute, author of _Gödel: A Life of Logic, the Mind, and Mathematics_ The science of complexity accounts for (...) that inscrutable mix of chaos and order that governs our natural world. Complexity explains how networks emerge and function, how species organize into ecosystems, how stars form into galaxies, and how just a few sequences of DNA can account for so many different life forms. Recently, the idea of complexity has taken the worlds of business and politics by storm. The concept is used to account for phenomena as varied as the behavior of the stock market, the response of voting populations, and the effects of risk management. Even Disney has used complexity theory to manage crowd control at its theme parks. Given the startling development of new information technologies, we now live in a moment of unprecedented complexity, an era in which change occurs faster than our ability to comprehend it. With _The Moment of Complexity_, Mark C. Taylor offers a timely map for this unfamiliar terrain opening in our midst, unfolding an original philosophy through a remarkable synthesis of science and culture. According to Taylor, complexity is not just a breakthrough scientific concept, but the defining quality of the post-Cold War era. The flux of digital currents swirling around us, he argues, has created a new network culture with its own distinctive logic and dynamic. Drawing on resources from information theory and evolutionary biology, Taylor explains the operation of complex adaptive systems in social and cultural processes and captures a whole new zeitgeist in the making. To appreciate the significance of our emerging network culture, he claims, we need not only to understand contemporary scientific and technological transformations, but also to explore the subtle influences of art, architecture, philosophy, religion, and higher education. _The Moment of Complexity_, then, is a remarkable work of cultural analysis on a scale rarely seen today. To follow its trajectory is to learn how we arrived at this critical moment in our culture, and to know where we might head in the twenty-first century. (shrink)
Explores the strategies of design, contrast, and resonance in the works of Hezel, Heidegger, Bataille, Blanchot, Derrida, and Kierkegaard The history of society and culture is, in large measure, a history of the struggle with the endlessly ...
"There is no rigorous and effective deconstruction without the faithful memory of philosophies and literatures, without the respectful and competent reading of texts of the past, as well as singular works of our own time. Deconstruction is also a certain thinking about tradition and context. Mark Taylor evokes this with great clarity in the course of a remarkable introduction. He reconstitutes a set of premises without which no deconstruction could have seen the light of day." – _Jacques Derrida __"This invaluable (...) philosophical sampler brings together many of the threads out of which deconstruction is woven. taylor's anthology does not make deconstruction easy; much more usefully, it provides a meticulous guide to the sources – and significance – of the difficulties. – Barbara E. Johnson _"The book will be of great value as a set of readings with authoritative explanation for all those interested in the current relations of literature and philosophy. It is the best book of its kind I know. – _J. Hillis Miller, Yale University_. (shrink)
_A leading thinker asks why “faster” is synonymous with “better” in our hurried world and suggests how to take control of our runaway lives_ We live in an ever-accelerating world: faster computers, markets, food, fashion, product cycles, minds, bodies, kids, lives. When did everything start moving so fast? Why does speed seem so inevitable? Is faster always better? Drawing together developments in religion, philosophy, art, technology, fashion, and finance, Mark C. Taylor presents an original and rich account of a great (...) paradox of our times: how the very forces and technologies that were supposed to free us by saving time and labor now trap us in a race we can never win. The faster we go, the less time we have, and the more we try to catch up, the farther behind we fall. Connecting our speed-obsession with today’s global capitalism, he composes a grand narrative showing how commitments to economic growth and extreme competition, combined with accelerating technological innovation, have brought us close to disaster. Psychologically, environmentally, economically, and culturally, speed is taking a profound toll on our lives. By showing how the phenomenon of speed has emerged, Taylor offers us a chance to see our pace of life as the product of specific ideas, practices, and policies. It’s not inevitable or irreversible. He courageously and movingly invites us to imagine how we might patiently work towards a more deliberative life and sustainable world. (shrink)
The age of information, media, and virtuality is transforming every aspect of human experience. Questions that have long haunted the philosophical imagination are becoming urgent practical concerns: Where does the natural end and the artificial begin? Is there a difference between the material and the immaterial? In his new work, Mark C. Taylor extends his ongoing investigation of postmodern worlds by critically examining a wide range of contemporary cultural practices. Nothing defines postmodernism so well as its refusal of depth, its (...) emphasis on appearance and spectacle, its tendency to collapse a three-dimensional world in which image and reality are distinct into a two-dimensional world in which they merge. The postmodern world, Taylor argues, is a world of surfaces, and the postmodern condition is one of profound superficiality. For many cultural commentators, postmodernism's inescapable play of surfaces is cause for despair. Taylor, on the other hand, shows that the disappearance of depth in postmodern culture is actually a liberation repleat with creative possibilities. Taylor introduces readers to a popular culture in which detectives--the postmodern heroes of Paul Auster and Dennis Potter--lift surfaces only to find more surfaces, and in which fashion advertising plays transparency against hiding. Taylor looks at the contemporary preoccupation with body piercing and tattooing, and asks whether these practices actually reveal or conceal. Phrenology and skin diseases, the "religious" architecture of Las Vegas, the limitless spread of computer networks--all are brought within the scope of Taylor's brilliant analysis. Postmodernism, he shows, has given us a new sense of the superficial, one in which the issue is not the absence of meaning but its uncontrollable, ecstatic proliferation. Embodying the very tendencies it analyzes, Hiding is unique. Conceived and developed with well-known designers Michael Rock and Susan Sellars, this work transgresses the boundary that customarily separates graphic design from the story within a text. The product of nearly three decades of reflection and writing, Hiding opens a window on contemporary culture. To follow the remarkable course Taylor charts is to see both our present and past differently and to encounter a future as disorienting as it is alluring. (shrink)
Taylor (humanities and religion, Williams College, Massachusetts) reconsiders the two philosophers based on the notion that all modern philosophy lies between the poles of their thought. He has added a new introduction to the 1980 original edition.
He notes that the order of the book is random and arbitrary, and that there is no unity, thematic or otherwise--an innovative approach to making sense of the universe. Several of the dozen essays have been previously published. No index.
With fundamentalists dominating the headlines and scientists arguing about the biological and neurological basis of faith, religion is the topic of the day. But religion, Mark C. Taylor shows, is more complicated than either its defenders or critics think and, indeed, is much more influential than any of us realize. Our world, Taylor maintains, is shaped by religion even when it is least obvious. Faith and value, he insists, are unavoidable and inextricably interrelated for believers and nonbelievers alike. Using scientific (...) theories of dynamical systems and complex adaptive networks for cultural and theological analysis, After God redefines religion for our contemporary age. Taylor begins by asking a critical question: What is religion? He then proceeds to explain how Protestant ideas in particular undergird the character and structure of our global information society—the Reformation, Taylor argues, was an information and communications revolution that effectively prepared the way for the media revolution at the end of the twentieth century. Taylor’s breathtaking account of religious ideas allows us to understand for the first time that contemporary notions of atheism and the secular are already implicit in classical Christology and Trinitarian theology. Weaving together theoretical analysis and historical interpretation, Taylor demonstrates the codependence and coevolution of traditional religious beliefs and practices with modern literature, art, architecture, information technologies, media, financial markets, and theoretical biology. After God concludes with prescriptions for new ways of thinking and acting. If we are to negotiate the perils of the twenty-first century, Taylor contends, we must refigure the symbolic networks that inform our policies and guide our actions. A religion without God creates the possibility of an ethics without absolutes that leads to the promotion of creativity and life in an ever more fragile world. The first comprehensive theology of culture since the pioneering work of Paul Tillich, After God is a radical reconceptualization of religion and Taylor’s most pathbreaking work yet, bringing together various strands of theological argument and cultural analysis four decades in the making. (shrink)
Nots is a virtuoso exploration of negation and negativity in theology, philosophy, art, architecture, postmodern culture, and medicine. In nine essays that range from nihility in Buddhism to the embodiment of negativity in disease, Mark C. Taylor looks at the surprising ways in which contrasting concepts of negativity intersect. In the first section of this book, Taylor discusses the question of the "not" in the religious thought of Anselm, Hegel, Derrida, and Nishitani. In the second part, he analyzes artistic efforts (...) "to figure not" in the work of artists Arakawa and Madeline Gins, architect Daniel Libeskind, pop artist David Sallee, and pop icon Madonna. The final section consists of a deeply personal and scientifically informed chapter that discusses the workings of negativity in immunology and illness. Taylor's essays work toward a sense of the not as unnameable as it is irrepressible--an "unthinkable third" that falls between being and nonbeing. Bringing together concerns that span Taylor's early investigations of Hegel and Kierkegaard and recent studies of art and architecture, Nots is an important contribution by one of the most original and distinctive voices now writing on the American scene. Religion and Postmodernism series. (shrink)
The journey to the cemetery is always solitary even when I am with people who are closest to me. In the graveyard, the we is dispersed and the I stripped bare." In Grave Matters, Taylor's ghosts become our own.
Kierkegaard’s critique of Hegel and Hegelianism anticipates major twentieth-century philosophical movements ranging from structuralism, existentialism, and phenomenology, to post-structuralism and postmodernism. This paper analyzes Kierkegaard’s interpretation of the relationship between subjectivity and temporality in pivotal passages in The Sickness Unto Death and The Concept of Anxiety. Heidegger’s account of the interplay between presentation (Darstellung) and representation (Vorstellung) imagination points to Kant’s theory of the imagination and suggests the way in which the Kierkegaardian subject is constituted by an irreducible alterity that (...) is never present but is always already past. The infinite qualitative difference of the divine is reflected in the inescapable interiority of the subject. Kierkegaard’s abyssal other returns in Barth’s wholly other God, Heidegger’s aletheia, Derrida’s différance, and Lacan’s real. For each of these writers, subjectivity is haunted by another it can neither exclude nor appropriate. This interior exteriority is the condition of the possibility of both desire and hope. (shrink)