He published all four of his books within a ten-year span. But one day, catastrophe occurred in sudden. Atlantis entirely sank beneath the waves in only one day and one night. In thousands of years, Atlantis has caught the imagination of people from all over the world.

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Start your review of Technology in World Civilization: A Thousand-Year History Write a review Shelves: hist-of-sci-tech Histories of technology can easily fall into a trap of trumpeting a steady, linear advance of new inventions as they spread across the globe.

Arnold Pacey avoids this generalization and takes great effort to avoid a Euro-centric approach. Technology in World Civilization instead emphasizes that technologies rarely transfer directly to other cultures in their original form. Rather, technological advance emerges from a dialectic, a global dialogue where ideas are combined, rearranged, and adapted Histories of technology can easily fall into a trap of trumpeting a steady, linear advance of new inventions as they spread across the globe.

Beginning in roughly the year , Pacey examines iron smelting and firearms in China, the Mongol use of stirrups, and irrigation systems across the globe, emphasizing that various cultures used technology specifically designed for their local environmental and social conditions. This is evident in the various adaptations of the spinning wheel, which took different forms in different areas. Whether in textiles, gun manufacturing, or shipbuilding, the adoption of new technology almost always goes through a process: First, imitation of the new technology, and eventually adaptation to local conditions, combination with known local practices, and innovation into new applications.

Use of Damascus Steel for gun barrels and Portuguese innovations in sail designs are examples of such localized innovations. Pacey also emphasizes that a culture must have structures in place that facilitate new technology in order for it to thrive.

For example, many historians have viewed the Meiji Restoration in Japan as a case of direct transfer of Western technology. Pacey instead argues that before the restoration, Japan had maintained interest in modern technology and was developing their own techniques. Thus Japan, working with French sources, possessed their first operational steamship before the restoration took place. The presence of textile and agricultural systems in the country allowed it to industrialize rapidly.

Pacey asserts that the advantage of the West was the result of three industrial movements. The third movement centered on the availability of cheap labor in India.

The book shines in its discussion of the inspiration for new technologies. While Pacey admits that material concerns and economics play a large factor in invention, he emphasizes that the visionary and spiritual aspects can be just as motivating.

The creation of clocks as symbols for cosmology and the study of flight based on optimistic dreams demonstrate that innovation can come from a visionary mind based on the desire to progress.

This point is a welcome addition, although more emphasis on the history of science would greatly bolster his argument.

The book is also poorly organized, and would greatly benefit from introductory and concluding sections to contextualize and ease the flow of ideas not only for the work as a whole, but for individual chapters.

Although far too brief to be a definitive guide to the subject, the book serves as a solid introduction for further research.


Technology in World Civilization: A Thousand-Year History

In previous books Arnold Pacey has written about the role of ideas and ideals in the creation of technology, about the global history of technology, and about how the complex interaction of political, cultural, economic, and scientific influences determines the course of technological practice. Stressing that there is no hierarchy of meaning in technology, he argues against reductionism in interpreting technology in a human context, and for acknowledgment of the role of the human experience of purpose when it helps to express meaning in technology. In the first part of the book, Pacey analyzes the direct experience of technology by individuals—engineers, mathematicians, craft workers, and consumers. He looks at music as a source of technology, at visual thinking, at tactile knowledge, and at the generation of social meaning. In the second part, he examines the contexts in which technology is used, relating technology to nature and society. He explores our sense of place and of our relationship with nature, environmental concerns, gender, and creativity.


Technology And World Civilization : A Thousand Year History



Arnold Pacey



Technology in World Civilization


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